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Manteca, RC are win away from NorCal berth
Kiwi Gardner and the rest of the Manteca Buffaloes will look to carry over momentum from their 81-63 playoff-opening victory against Placer to today’s quarterfinal matchup vs. Vista del Lago. - photo by Bulletin file photo


Sac-Joaquin Section Second-round games
Division III
No. 8 Lincoln at No. 1 Sacramento
No. 5 Rio Americano at No. 4 St. Mary’s
No. 6 Center at No. 3 Del Oro
No. 7 Manteca at No. 2 Vista del Lago

Division V
No. 8 Global Youth at No. 1 Victory Christian
No. 5 Sac Waldorf at No. 4 Valley Christian
No. 6 Brookside Ch. at No. 3 Bradshaw Ch.
No. 10 Forest Lake Ch. at No. 2 Ripon Ch.
The area’s two remaining boys basketball teams are a win away from advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff semifinals and earning a berth to the California Interscholastic Federation Regional Championships.

But two of the section’s best players stand in their way.

In the Division III bracket, two-time Valley Oak League champion and seventh-seeded Manteca High (23-5) heads to Folsom today to meet upstart Vista del Lago (26-2).

Second-seeded Ripon Christian (20-6), meanwhile, plays host to upset-minded No. 10 Forest Lake Christian (13-11) of Auburn in the second round of the Division V playoffs.
Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

Vista del Lago earned a No. 2 seed for the second straight year. The Eagles’ have soared to prominence quickly.

Last season was the school’s first in the varsity ranks, and it played small-school powerhouse Modesto Christian tough in a 64-60 loss in the Division IV semifinals. Modesto Christian went on to claim its 10th straight section championship.

Vista del Lago is led by Hayden Lescault, a 6-foot-4 senior guard with outstanding range. He averages 19 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game (all team highs) on a squad loaded with height, athletic ability and balanced scoring.

Point guard Jaquai Wiley (9.6 ppg), 6-3 wing Mike Young (9.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg), 6-5 forward DeMarcus Wishom (9.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and 6-4, 240-pound center Marques White (6.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg) make up the rest of the Eagles’ dangerous starting five.

Vista’s only losses came against playoff-caliber teams: Sierra Valley Conference rival and traditional power Oak Ridge (49-48), and Foothill (74-66) of the Northern Section.

Two of the Eagles’ wins were against opponents familiar to Manteca. They downed Weston Ranch 77-35 to open the non-league season, and Weston Ranch split its two-game VOL series with Manteca.

Vista del Lago also defeated Sonora of the VOL, 50-35, in the first round Wednesday.

Manteca, riding a 14-game winning streak, has stars of their own, and they are coming off one of their best performances of the year in an 81-63 win over Placer.

Point guard Kiwi Gardner had 26 points, six rebounds, four assists and seven steals and was one of five players to finish in double figures.

At Ripon Christian, all eyes will be on the battle of the bigs — 6-7, 220-pound Josh Ritchart of Forest Lake and RC’s own 6-8 center Tyler Goslinga.

Goslinga posts 20.6 points and 11.1 rebounds but has a better supporting cast with the likes of 6-4 forward Logan Vos and senior guards Daniel Van de Pol and Steve Vander Molen capable of taking over a game.

Ritchart, a UC Davis signee, averages around 25 points, 14 rebounds and over five blocks.

The semifinal games will be played at neutral sites next Wednesday, with Division III contests held at Cosumnes River College and Division V at Galt High.