Four of the five remaining winter sports teams in the area will get some home cookin’ for the CIF State Northern California Regional Championships beginning today.
First-time Sac-Joaquin Section boys soccer champion East Union kicks off the action today at 4 p.m., Manteca girls soccer follows at 6 and Weston Ranch boys basketball at 7. Meanwhile, Ripon’s girls soccer team travels to Fresno County, and the Ripon Christian boys hoops squad has another day to prepare for its NorCal opener on Wednesday.
Placed in the challenging Division II bracket, Weston Ranch is the only team that can vie for a state title. The postseason for Division VI basketball — where Ripon Christian competes — and all of soccer end with the NorCal regional finals.
Admission costs for all NorCal contests leading up to the finals are as follows: $9 for general admission; $5 for students with ID, children 12-under and seniors 65-over; and children under 5 are free
A closer look at what the local teams are up against:
D2 boys basketball
Weston Ranch (20-12) is seeded fourth after its impressive semifinal finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. The Cougars, who compete in the Division III Valley Oak League, are playing up in level after getting selected for the CIF Open Division state playoffs last year.
Visiting the south Stockton campus tonight is No. 13 Piedmont (24-5), the North Coast Section Division IV champion. Luke Harris (18.2 points per game) and 6-foot-5 senior Luke Barrett (17.1 ppg) lead the battle-tested Highlanders.
A victory would guarantee at least one more home game for Weston Ranch, which would host against No. 5 Oakland Tech (26-4) or No. 12 Menlo School (20-6) on Thursday. NCS Division I finalist Granada (24-6) and NCS Division III champ St. Patrick-St. Vincent (22-10) are the top two seeds on the NorCal end of the state bracket.
The Division II state final takes place Saturday, March 14 at Golden 1 Center with a 4 o’clock tipoff.
D6 boys basketball
Ripon Christian was favored to claim the NorCal title as the top-seeded squad in the division two years ago but was upset by Sacramento Adventist; the same team the Knights had beaten a SJS title two weeks prior.
Northern Section champ Weed (21-4) of Siskiyou County has received the No. 1 seed this time and would host the Knights (23-7) in the final if both teams take care of business.
Up first for Ripon Christian is No. 7 California School for the Deaf (24-6) on Wednesday. The Eagles from Fremont lost to Ferndale 60-42 in the NCS Division VI championship.
The regional semifinals are set for Saturday. The Ripon Christian-CSD winner takes on No. 3 Fall River (23-6) of McArthur or St. Bernard’s (16-9) of Eureka.
D3 boys soccer
Fresh off its stunning 2-0 win over top-seeded Galt (22-2-1) in the SJS Division III final, East Union (14-3-8) has been awarded the No. 2 seed for NorCals and welcomes No. 7 Shasta (13-2) of Redding.
It’s the second straight NorCal appearance for the Lancers, who lost to Pleasant Valley of Chico 3-0 in their Division IV opener last year.
Shasta is plenty familiar with PV having beaten the Vikings twice in three meetings this season; including the 1-0 triumph in the NS Division I finale. Shasta scored early on Braxton Flemming’s set-piece header and was able to shut down Pleasant Valley standout Dante Jackson, who burned EU for a hat trick last season.
Top-seeded Ygnacio Valley (14-5-3) of Concord has a first-round bye after claiming the NCS Division III crown. The East Union-Shasta winner faces off with No. 3 Branham (16-6-2) of San Jose or No. 6 Albany (15-4-3) on Thursday.
D3 girls soccer
Manteca (21-2-4) gets one more game under the lights of Guss Schmiedt Field for its NorCal debut. Seeded fourth, the SJS Division III champion Buffaloes await No. 5 Acalanes (17-5-3) of Lafayette
The Dons won a thrilling penalty-kick shootout 1-1 (10-9) over reigning NorCal titlist Branson in the NCS Division III final and claimed their first-ever section title. They’re led by freshman standouts Tatum Zuber and Addie Bailey.
Manteca captured its second SJS banner on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Christian Brothers. A win tonight would likely send the Buffs to a semifinal showdown at No. 1-seeded Mountain View (15-5-3), which begins with fellow Central Coast Section member No. 8 Burlingame (12-4-6). Mountain View is the CCS’ Division I champ.
D4 girls soccer
Ripon (20-5-1) steps up in competition after winning the SJS Division V title the past two years.
The Indians’ 3-1 loss to El Camino in the SJS D4 final has led to a first-round road trip for NorCals, as they’re seeded fifth and headed for No. 4 Kingsburg (20-7-2).
The Vikings have earned four straight Central Section championships but seek their first regional win. Two-sport star Marissa Montelongo spearheads Kingsburg with 29 goals and 11 assists. She has signed with NCAA Division I Saint Mary’s College to play both soccer and softball.
It gets tougher for the winner with Branson (16-4-3) looming as the No. 1 seed. The Bulls from Ross knocked off the top two seeds in Division III last season — including local powerhouse Sierra — for a NorCal title.