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Manteca hosts Lathrop for boys and girls postseason openers
SJS basketball playoff brackets
Manteca head coach Oscar Calix gives his team instructions from the sideline in a first-round game against Pittsburg during the Tom Hawkins/Tracy Breakfast Lions Tournament on Dec. 27. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Oscar Calix gets to match wits with former mentor Dwayne Davis in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

The first-year Manteca coach and the rest of the Buffaloes welcome Manteca Unified counterpart Lathrop to Winter Gym on Thursday. It’s the first of two Manteca-Lathrop showdowns, as the boys teams go at it Friday. All first-round contests are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.

“I love Lathrop and have nothing but respect for Coach Davis — he gave me my first opportunity of coaching girls high school basketball,” Calix said. He’s a 2011 graduate of Lathrop High. “I’m ready for my first playoff game as a coach, but having it against Lathrop makes this game even more exciting for me.”

Lathrop (21-7) is the 10th seed after its runner-up finish in the Western Athletic Conference. No. 7 Manteca (16-8) placed third in the Valley Oak League. VOL outright champion East Union (21-3) was awarded the No. 3 seed in Division III and opens with No. 14 Pioneer (17-8) of Woodland. The Patriots are runners-up of the Golden Empire League.

If EU holds turf, a tough second-round matchup is ahead in either WAC champ Los Banos (22-5) or Sacramento power West Campus (10-0), which did not play any non-league contests in the regular season.

East Union’s boys team (17-11) is making its first season appearance in nine years on Friday. Coach Charles Legans’ Lancers are at-large qualifiers and the 10th seed in Division III. They’ll head to No. 7 Burbank (17-8) in Sacramento. Also in D-III, No. 13 Lathrop (15-11) makes the short trip to No. 4 Manteca (18-10). Lathrop is a first-time league champion, sharing the WAC crown with Mountain House. Manteca took second in the VOL behind Weston Ranch (18-10), the sixth seed in the loaded Division-I bracket.

The Cougars are in a higher bracket because they were selected for the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state tournament in 2018 and had a successful run to the semifinal round of the 2019 SJS Division I playoffs. They went on to win the NorCal Division II title. The Ranch plays host to No. 11 Oak Ridge (16-11).

Reigning NorCal Division VI boys champion Ripon Christian (19-7) has been elevated to Division V for the SJS playoffs. The Trans-Valley League champion gets a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed in the 14-team bracket. The Knights await the winner of No. 7 Leroy Green Academy (13-3) and No. 10 Bear River (11-16).

TVL runner-up Ripon (15-13) is No. 7 in Division IV and is paired with No. 10 Foothill (10-10). Ripon’s girls team (17-9) is also in Division IV and seeded 12th. The Indians travel to Galt to square off with No. 5 Liberty Ranch (17-10), a Sierra Valley Conference co-champ.

Final-round contests are set for Feb. 25-26 at Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings. All semifinalists qualify for the CIF NorCal Regionals.