SJS playoffs first round
Tuesday, Feb. 20
(9) Vista del Lago at (8) East Union
(10) Manteca at (7) Patterson
(13) Hilmar at (4) Lathrop
(12) Calaveras at (5) Ripon
(6) Sac. Waldorf at (3) Ripon Chr.
All games start at 7 p.m.
Two flips of a coin ended up producing some head-scratching results for the three girls basketball postseason qualifiers from Manteca Unified schools.
The Sac-Joaquin Section released playoff brackets on Thursday.
“Today has been pretty interesting, I can tell you that,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said.
Valley Oak League co-champion Lathrop (20-5) has been dropped to Division IV because of its enrollment — and the coinflip. Meanwhile, Agostini’s Lancers (15-11) were awarded a first-round home game in Division III despite finishing the regular season with a lower MaxPreps ranking — which heavily factors into the seeding process — than rival Manteca (17-10), the No. 10 seed in this bracket.
The coinflips broke ties in the VOL. Kimball won its coinflip with Lathrop for the first of three automatic berths. Lathrop would have been in Division III had the coin dropped in its favor, or if the Spartans claimed the outright league championship.
Lathrop coach Dwayne Davis wanted another shot at Kimball. The two split in league play, but the Spartans won two out of their three overall meetings with the Jaguars this season counting their final-round matchup in the Stagg Delta Queens Classic. Head-to-head results is the first tiebreaker, but in this case only the league games were factored in.
Lathrop was given the fourth seed in Division IV and opens with No. 13 Hilmar (16-11) next Tuesday.
“I don’t understand how we can be moved to No. 4 in Division IV but be (ranked) No. 3 (according to MaxPreps) in Division III,” Davis said. “But they line it up and all we can do is play. We still have to beat everybody in front of us. It doesn’t matter how we get there.”
The Spartans are lined up for an interesting second-round matchup should things play out as expected. They could take on a familiar foe in Trans-Valley League champion Ripon (21-4), the No. 5 seed that starts with No. 12 Calaveras (14-11). Lathrop and Ripon have not played each other this year but squared off in the previous eight, with the Indians winning seven of them.
“I’m just happy that we got a pretty good seed,” Ripon coach Ron Inderbitzin said. “A few years ago, Ripon was 12-0 in league and they ended up being a No. 14 seed and played Venture Academy. We get to play a home game, so we’re excited about that.”
Foothill (23-3) and Union Mine (25-1) are the top two seeds in Division IV, respectively. Third-seeded West Campus (20-7) is the defending champ.
Back to Division III, where No. 1 Christian Brothers (19-7) of Sacramento is favored to repeat and Kimball (22-5) holds the No. 2 spot.
East Union will welcome Vista del Lago (14-13) in the Nos. 8-9 matchup at Dalben Center. Manteca travels to No. 7 Patterson (20-7), which Christian Brothers beat in the title round last year. For winning the coinflip against Manteca, East Union got the third automatic berth while the Buffaloes advance with an at-large berth.
“When we won the coinflip I didn’t realize it would have that kind of impact,” Agostini said. “I just thought Manteca would be a 7 or 8 seed and we would stay around 10 or 11. We’ll definitely take it. When I told the girls we get to play one more at home they were excited.”
The good news for Manteca is that it won’t have to travel far, and an upset win over Patterson likely gives it a chance to avenge last year’s quarterfinal loss to Kimball.
“We’re disappointed in losing a home game for the playoffs, but we’re excited to be in the playoffs,” Manteca coach Ryan Bono said. “Whether we are home or away, we still gotta win.”
Ripon Christian (14-12), which finished third in the TVL, is seeded third in Division VI. The Knights play host to No. 6 Sacramento Waldorf (14-11).