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Ripon Christian hosting NorCal girls soccer opener today
Four local basketball teams hit the road
NorCal Playoffs ADV
Ripon Christian’s Dayna Koolhaas (24) heads the ball over Stone Ridge Christian’s Sarah Raya (15) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship game on Feb. 17. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Three Ripon Christian winter sports teams begin the NorCal playoffs today, but only one of its two Sac-Joaquin Section champions is playing its opener at home.

The girls soccer team earned the No. 3 seed for the California Interscholastic Federation Division V Northern Regionals and will welcome No. 6 Winters out of Yolo County.

The boys basketball team was not so fortunate, as it was catapulted to the challenging Division III bracket after claiming a second-straight SJS championship in Division V. Even worse, the Knights are seeded 15th and traveling to Napa to face No. 2 Justin-Siena.  

Ripon Christian’s girls basketball squad is also a No. 15 seed and bound for San Jose where it squares off with No. 2 Lynbrook.

Manteca’s 10th-seeded girls basketball team is headed to No. 7 San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno. The Buffaloes, coming off their first Sac-Joaquin Section championship-game appearance since 2000.

The Ripon boys basketball team hits the road for the Division IV 8-9 matchup with Palo Alto.

The four basketball games are scheduled to tip off at 7 tonight, while the soccer game at Ripon Christian starts at 5.

Regional finals take place Tuesday, March 5 and are followed by the CIF State Championships March 8-9 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The soccer season ends Saturday with the regional championships at host sites of the higher-seeded teams remaining.

Here’s a closer look at what the local teams are up against:

NorCal Playoffs ADV
Ripon Christian’s Jake Vander Veen attacks from the baseline against Futures defender EJ George last Friday at UC Davis.



Division III

Ripon Christian (24-6) at Justin-Siena (26-3): Both teams are rolling going into NorCals.

Ripon Christian routed Futures 67-47 this past Saturday for its 13th straight victory and 13th overall SJS championship. Meanwhile, Justin-Siena has won 15 in a row after dispatching Ygnacio Valley 76-69 in the North Coast Section Division IV final. It’s the Braves’ first section title since 1970.

Led by George Nessman — whose coaching resume includes successful stops at De La Salle, Porterville College and San Jose State — Justin-Siena has put together an impressive season after graduating the entire starting five that advanced to the NorCal D-III semifinals last year.

The Vine Valley Athletic League outright champion has lost only to other NorCal qualifiers — De La Salle (Open Division No. 4 seed), Santa Cruz (Division III top seed) and Sacred Heart Prep (Division I No. 11).

Third-year varsity seniors Nick Jeramaz and Jaden Washington scored 35 and 27 points, respectively, in the Braves’ NCS final. Jeramaz jump started Justin-Siena’s postseason run with a 29-point outburst in a 91-37 throttling of Kelseyville. He accounted for seven of the Braves’ 19 made 3-pointers, hitting six in the first quarter.


Division IV

Ripon (23-8) at Palo Alto (18-8): The Indians will look to bounce back after losing to eventual champion Venture Academy 92-58 in the SJS Division IV semifinals.

Palo Alto was also ousted from the semifinal round in its section tournament. The Vikings fell short against Menlo Atherton 54-49 in the Central Coast Section Division I bracket. They were paced by 6-foot-2 guard Jorrell Clark’s 15 points. He’s the son of Stanford head track and field coach J.J. Clark.

Palo Alto placed second in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.



NorCal Playoffs ADV
Manteca’s Jada Ikharo (23) shoots on Vista del Lago’s Callie Jacobosky (33) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game last Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.
Division III

Manteca (25-7) at San Joaquin Memorial (18-7): Manteca tangles with another battle-tested opponent after it was outmatched by Vista del Lago in the SJS Division III final

San Joaquin Memorial is the reigning County/Metro Athletic Conference champion and a Central Section Division I quarterfinalist. The Panthers were tamed by Buchanan 76-39, but their top player, 5-8 guard/forward Sienna Evans, did not play. Evans averages 20 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.1 steals.

San Joaquin Memorial is also led by 5-3 junior guard Alexa Perryman (13.6 points, 3.3 assists) and 5-10 freshman forward Amieya Walters (12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds).


Division V

Ripon Christian (16-12) at Lynbrook (18-9): A large school out of San Jose, Lynbrook drops to Division V after reaching the CCS Division II semifinals.

The Vikings lost to league rival Monta Vista in their last contest. Versatile fourth-year guard Maggie Lam led them with 19 points in the 56-42 defeat. Lynbrook finished third in the SCVAL De Anza Division.

Mendota (25-8) is the No. 1 seed in the bracket after mounting a surprising run to the CS Division II final as the 13th seed.



Division V

Winters (16-4) and Ripon Christian (22-3-1): Two youthful section champions clash in this interesting NorCal showdown.

Winters is the two-time reigning North Section Division III champion, and its losses are to Sacramento Valley League rival Live Oak (twice) and SJS mid-division postseason qualifiers Dixon and Pioneer.

The Warriors boast six players with 25 or more points, and the top three are underclassmen: sophomore Ava Muir Vickrey (25 goals, four assists, 54 points), freshman Aylin Molina (17-9-43) and sophomore Idaly Lopez Sanchez (9-16-34). Molina had two goals and an assist in Winters’ 4-0 shutout of Hamilton in the NS Division III final.

The winner plays No. 2 Lowell or No. 7 Hamilton. Hilmar, which handed RC one of its three defeats, is the No. 1 seed.