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Sierra, Weston Ranch seek first NorCal victories
Dylan Alexander and the Weston Ranch Cougars are heading to San Francisco tonight to open the NorCal playoffs against Mission. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

Sierra and Weston Ranch failed to capture their first Sac-Joaquin Section boys basketball championship last week, but both still have a chance to make school history tonight when the CIF Northern California Division III Regional Championships tip off.

Both squads are 0-2 all-time in the state tournament.

Sierra lost a 73-68 heartbreaker in overtime to visiting Miramonte (Orinda) last year, and in 2001 the 18-14 Timberwolves were dropped by Anderson 59-47 just days after suffering a buzzer-beating loss to Riverbank in the Sac-Joaquin Section finals.

Weston Ranch was drubbed by Burlingame 63-41 in its last NorCal appearance in 2011, but in 2007 the Cougars nearly stunned state-ranked Acalanes (Lafayette), 50-47.

Fourth-seeded Sierra (27-5) can host another NorCal game if it gets past No. 13 Shasta (15-12) tonight. Wade Gulden, a 6-foot-3 junior guard averaging 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, spearheads the Wolves along with Austin Ajamian (10.1 ppg), their best perimeter shooter.

Sierra and Shasta share a common opponent in Placer, a 58-38 nonleague winner over Shasta and 71-51 loser to Sierra in the SJS quarterfinals. The Sierra-Shasta winner faces No. 5 Sir Francis Drake (San Anselmo) or No. 12 Santa Cruz (19-11).

Weston Ranch (21-7) is the only team seeded in the top six on the road for its NorCal opener, as it faces San Francisco Section champ Mission (15-14). The No. 11 Bears appear to be a favorable match for the more battle-tested Cougars. But they could give Weston Ranch some problems with two players averaging at least 20 points in 5-10 guard Kevin Murray 5-9 Antoine Porter. Joji Kurotani, a 5-6 sophomore, is their third-leading scorer at 9.3 per game.

A win would advance Weston Ranch to a second-round matchup with Enterprise (Redding), which has a bye after capturing its sixth Northern Section title in seven years.