East Union and Ripon Christian’s girls basketball teams are heavy underdogs in their Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs second-round contests tonight.
Both face opponents that are no strangers to the postseason.
Seventh-seeded East Union (23-5) squares off with No. 2 Del Oro (24-4) in Loomis in Division III. In Division V, No. 11 Ripon Christian (11-14) takes on No. 3 Wilton Christian (24-4) at Elk Grove High. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.
All winners of tonight’s games will advance to the section semifinals and qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation Regional Championships.
Head coach Mike Takayama, one of 13 girls basketball coaches in state history to win at least 500 career games, has built a powerhouse at Del Oro.
The Golden Eagles ended the Sierra Foothill League season with their 50th consecutive conference win, have made it to the semifinals three straight years and are 68-4 at home in the last five seasons.
The public school’s accomplishments in girls basketball are impressive considering the division has been ruled by private-school juggernaut St. Mary’s of Stockton and Sacramento, a charter school, in recent years.
East Union’s guard-heavy lineup may have a tough time matching up with Del Oro’s vaunted front line led by 5-foot-11 junior wing Madeline Campbell, who averaged 16.7 points and 5.2 rebounds during the regular season. She is also the team’s leading 3-point shooter with 63 made attempts.
The rest of Del Oro’s top players are also juniors: 5-10 forward Crystal Sewell (12.7 ppg, 7 rpg), 6-1 forward Belle Obert (7.4 ppg, 10 rpg, 4 blocks per game) and 5-6 poing guard Becky Duncan. Brianna Ruiz, a 5-10 freshman, is another key contributor for the Golden Eagles.
Ripon Christian is familiar with the Wilton Christian Patriots having lost to them in the second round of the 2008 Division V playoffs.
Wilton Christian is in its fifth straight year in the postseason and advanced to the championship round in 2008 and 09, losing both times to top-seeded Bradshaw Christian.
The Patriots rolled through the competition in the Harvest Christian League, going 18-0 en route to capturing their fourth title in a row.
Ripon Christian, which steamrolled No. 6 Trinity Prep, 50-28, in Napa Tuesday, figure to be more battle tested having competed in the Division-IV dominated Trans Valley League. Three teams — state-ranked Modesto Christian, Ripon and Hughson — qualified for the Division-IV playoffs this year.
The Knights match up well with Wilton’s size.
Kendra Jeffcoat, a 6-foot sophomore wing, checks in with impressive 19.8-point, 7.6-rebound and 5.1-steal averages. She is complemented by 6-1 senior forward Hayley Arrellano (11.2 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg) and 5-11 sophomore forward Lindsey Meister.
Ripon Christian will counter with its three 5-10 forwards who each played a big part in Tuesday’s victory. Senior Kelsey Tillema finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Mikaela Alger and Raeann De Rousse each turned in 11 points and seven boards.