With the first set of games in this new series resulting in an upset and an overtime among the three featured, this second set begins Wednesday with a major girls hoops matchup in the Sacramento area. It will continue Thursday with a new State Top 20 boys team in the spotlight and will extend to next Monday when Modesto Christian’s state record league win streak should face a huge test.
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(Note: Most up-to-date information on any player injuries not available)
Wednesday, Jan. 9 Girls Basketball
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) at Del Oro (Loomis)
The host Golden Eagles enter this week at 15-2, but they also just lost their first Sierra Foothill League game to Whitney of Rocklin and will not want to fall to 0-2. Oak Ridge has long been a traditional power in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section under head coach Steve White and began its league schedule with a 57-40 win against Granite Bay. The Trojans improved to 12-5 overall, but have gone out of the area to play tougher competition. Among those they’ve lost to are state-ranked Clovis West, Clovis North and Sacramento. They also lost by two to Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates in one of the title games in one of the top divisions at the So Cal Holiday Classic in San Diego. In the win vs. Granite Bay, freshman Teagan Brown scored all of her team-high 14 points in the second half. Del Oro has been more of a two-headed beast with Madison Parry (19.5 ppg) and Jenna Duley (18.2 ppg) combining for more than 37 points per game. The Golden Eagles were in four preseason tourneys and won three of them — Sonora, their own Mike Taakayama Memorial tourney and the Jan Vitell tourney in Placerville. Their only other loss was to 16-1 Antelope at the Rocklin tourney.
Thursday, Jan. 10 Boys Basketball
Central Catholic (Modesto) at Weston Ranch (Stockton)
Assuming both teams win earlier this week, they’ll both be 3-0 in the Valley Oak League for this matchup. Central Catholic is the defending VOL champions and actually went 14-0 in league games last season en route to going 31-3 overall with an SJS D3 title. The Raiders didn’t lose in the postseason last year until falling at eventual D3 state champ Pleasant Valley of Chico. Weston Ranch has some D3 state title connections since it beat 2016 CIF D3 state champ Manteca three times that season. The Cougars didn’t win state that year since they lost to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the NorCal playoffs and then Manteca beat O’Dowd. This week, Weston Ranch debuted at No. 20 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20 rankings mainly for winning the championship at the Modesto Christian Holiday Classic. The Cougars (14-1) are known for their versatility in that just about everyone on the floor can realistically play offense or defense at any position. Modesto Christian tourney MVP Gavin Wilburn, who also was the Cal-Hi Sports NorCal Player of the Week for what he did that week, perhaps best personifies that versatility. Sophomore Donjae’ Lindsay and sophomore Mi’Son Coilton also can light up the scoreboard. Central Catholic starts this week with seven wins in its last eight outings, but is 11-6 overall. The Raiders just beat Tulare Western at the Central Valley Showcase 75-54 and were led by Justin Traina with 30 points. Myles Clayton, a very promising 6-foot-7 sophomore, had 19 points and 15 rebounds in that game and has been the team’s leading scorer at 14 ppg.
Monday, Jan. 14 Boys Basketball
Modesto Christian at St. Mary’s (Stockton)
The Monday date of this Tri-Cities Athletic League contest causes some difficulty, but nonetheless it’s been stamped as a must-see on the Stockton area prep calender ever since Modesto Christian was added to the TCAL lineup. If you don’t know, the Crusaders haven’t lost a league game in more than 20 years and coming into the matchup at St. Mary’s Morelli Gym will probably have extended that streak to 188 games. That’s by far the longest league win streak in state history and one of the longest league win streaks in any sport in state history. Modesto Christian fell out of the State Top 20 rankings this week, but arguably could have stayed in based on the team’s overtime loss to nationally ranked and unbeaten Salesian of Richmond. The Crusaders also have an 83-66 win over Clovis West of Fresno at the Central Valley Nike Classic. They’re not ranked because Weston Ranch (14-1) won the tournament that they host. If MC plays like it did when it lost to Campolindo of Moraga at its own tourney, then it will definitely be in trouble at St. Mary’s. The Rams recently defeated Campolindo 58-51, but then they lost a game to Mountain View at the Aptos/Santa Cruz Warriors Invitational. They have a tough road game at Tracy on Wednesday of this week and will be looking to be 13-5 entering the showdown vs. Modesto Christian. Players to watch for MC in this game include junior guard Michael Pearson, senior forward Aaron Murphy, junior forward Alex Merkviladze and senior forward Tsotne Tsardsidse. St. Mary’s has three-year starter Bryce Johnson at forward along with junior guard Jamar Marshall and senior guard Carson Simi.
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Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He also is author of “High School Football In California,” which was No. 1 on Amazon.com’s list of bestsellers in the teen/young adult football category for several weeks after it was released. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports