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Ranch boys No. 1 in Division III, East Union girls ranked second
BSK--Division III seedings-main photo
East Union guard Ruby Daube tries to work around the defense of Mantecas Lejla Pepic. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

There were no surprises for Manteca Unified basketball programs Thursday when the Sac-Joaquin Section released its Division III playoff bracket.

Valley Oak League boys champion Weston Ranch (23-4) was awarded the highest seed among area squads, while girls titlist East Union (26-1) is No. 2. The postseason tips off with out-bracket games tonight. First-round games will be contested next Tuesday for girls and Wednesday for boys.

Weston Ranch got the nod over Sacramento powerhouse Capital Christian (18-9). The two teams share the same mascot, Cougars, and have met previously in the St. Hope Elite Hoop Classic. Capital Christian won 68-61, but Weston Ranch was without 6-foot-10 center Anthony Booker, who was serving the CIF’s 30-day sit-out period for transfers. 

The section’s playoff committee typically factors in head-to-head results. Both teams have seen a number of quality nonleague opponents, but Weston Ranch may have been favored because of the strength of the VOL. The VOL has four postseason qualifiers in all, and three of them — including top-seeded Central Catholic (21-5) in Division IV and No. 3 Manteca (22-5) in Division III — earned top-three seeds. Weston Ranch is considered a Division IV school based on its enrollment but got bumped up for winning a Division III league. 

Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan, who led his Cougars to the Division III title game last year, said he wouldn’t have been surprised if Capital Christian got top billing.

“I just think getting the top four teams is most important thing,” Teevan said. “Once you get to the semifinal everything is neutral. We have four real good teams in our bracket, but it’s good to be the top one.”

Weston Ranch opens with the winner of the out-bracket game between No. 16 Cordova (16-11) and No. 17 Ceres (11-13). VOL runner-up Manteca takes on Western Athletic Conference champion El Capitan (21-6), the No. 14 seed. 

Sierra (16-10) qualifies as at-large team thanks to its top-12 spot in the MaxPreps SJS Division III rankings. The Timberwolves are the defending champions in the division and have reached three of the last four finals. They’ll head to Folsom to face Capital Athletic League champion Vista del Lago (19-8).

“With the way the rankings were in the last week or so I figured we had a good chance,” Sierra coach Scott Thomason said. “I knew after we won the game (against Lathrop on Tuesday) that we were going in for sure. I figured we’d be around 10 or so. It’s a very tough bracket with some very good teams.”

East Union’s girls are making their 15th postseason appearance in 16 years, but this is the highest they’ve been seeded in that stretch. Christian Brothers (21-6) of Sacramento doesn’t have as good a record, but its strength of schedule warranted the top seed in the eyes of the committee. One of the Falcons’ losses — a 94-29 trouncing — was to St. Mary’s of