Posted On: 03/4/18 9:10 PM
As the state regional playoff begin this week let’s take a look at the eight Northern California Open Division teams (listed in order of their seeding). The pairings for Friday’s games are as follows: 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5. The higher seed is the home team.
#1 Salesian (Richmond) – North Coast Section Division 3 Champs, 30-1/8-0
The Pride were a lock for the overall #1seed in the North. Only 5 of their 30 victories have been by single digits. They have wins over Dublin, Capital Christian, Modesto Christian, Morgan Park (IL) and San Joaquin Memorial. Their only loss is to Nevada state champion Bishop Gorman. They are deep and they defend consistently.
They are lead by Connecticut-bound point guard James Akinjo. Akinjo is a supreme transition playmaker and an elite passer who can really score. Junior twin guards Jovon and Jaden Mc Clanahan are big time defenders who can handle, pass and shoot. Big-bodied sophomore postman Te’Jon Sawyer is emerging as a real presence inside on both ends. Sophomore combo forward Tyler Brinkman has the ability to score inside and outside.
#2 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) – North Coast Section Division 2 Champs, 25-5/10-0
The Dragons are on a roll having won 20 games in a row. They have wins over Fairfax, Capital Christian, Clark (NV), Pleasant Grove (UT State runner-up) and Las Lomas in a highly-competitive schedule with losses to Fairfax, Mission Bay and Westchester who are all So Cal open teams. They have a deep and talented roster and compete on a consistent basis.
They are lead by their two senior guards, Washington-bound Elijah Hardy and Utah-bound Naseem Gaskin. Hardy is ultra- athletic and excels on the fast break. Gaskin is an athletic big-time scorer who is a difficult match-up. Senior point guard Ross Williams plays with a ton of confidence. Junior two guard Will Chavarin is an accomplished all-around scorer. Juniors Brenden Patrick and Iniko McNeil provide back-court dept and junior center Raymond Hawkins comes off the bench to impact the game on both ends.
#3 Modesto Christian – Sac Joaquin Section Division 1 Champs, 28-3/14-0
The Crusaders have won 15 in a row since an MLK day 14-point loss to Salesian. They have two victories over capital Christian and a climactic win over Sheldon in the section finals. They have perhaps the most versatile roster in Nor Cal with a blend of size, strength, athleticism and the ability to score from all levels.
Cal Poly SLO-bound guard Junior Ballard is athletic, has a nice motor and can really score. Junior guard Dathan Satchell is long and athletic and finishes very well. Sophomore Michael Pearson and junior Earv Knox are point guards who are very effective making plays in transition. Senior wing Tyler Williams is ultra-athletic and creates havoc at both ends of the floor. Senior Gabe Murphy and juniors Aaron Murphy and Tsotne Tsardsidse provide unique front court dept.
#4 Sheldon (Sacramento) – Sac Joaquin Section Division 1 Runner-up, 26-5/14-0
The Huskies have won 19 of their last 20, the loss being to Modesto Christian in the section final (by 4 points). They have wins over Capital Christian, Dublin and Prestonwood Christian (TX). Losses have been to Capital Christian, Grandview (CO) and Pinnacle (AZ State Champion) and Trinity International (NV). They are a deep and athletic team who defend as well as anybody.
Senior combo guard Dale Currie leads the way. He plays in attack mode and really pushes the break hard. He shoots it well with deep 3- point range. Junior combo guard Kaito Williams is a highly skilled scorer and is an excellent passer. Senior Ronald Agebsar is a freak athlete who is a Rodman-like rebounder. Senior center Chris Wriedt provides solid defense and rebounding.
Sophomore Xavion Brown is an elite athlete who comes off the bench to provide high energy and makes a lot of plays in transition. Junior point guard Justin Nguyen is a floor general who runs the team and is deceptively athletic.
#5 San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) – Central Section Division 2 Champs, 25-6/9-1
The Panthers have won 11 of their last 12 with the loss being by 12 points to Salesian at a neutral site. They have wins over Clovis West and Modesto Christian. They have losses to Clovis West, Modesto Christian and Desert Vista (AZ State runner-up).
They are lead by all-everything sophomore wing Jalen Green who is a supreme athlete that can score in bunches and it is next to impossible to contain. Senior point guard Lunden Taylor runs the team and is a capable scorer himself. Senior wing Jonah Geron (Washington walk-on) is a nice shooter with long 3-point range. (Loyola Marymount-bound wing forward Dameane Douglas suffered a season-ending injury in late December.) To a great extent, how Green goes is how San Joaquin Memorial goes…
#6 Bellarmine (San Jose) – Central Coast Section Open Champs, 24-3/13-1
The Bells have won 17 of their last 18 including their second consecutive WCAL championship, the best league in North California. They are a disciplined team, who shoots it as well as anybody and they will not beat themselves.
They are lead by league MVP Jake Wojcik. Wojcik is a heady combo guard who is a big-time shooter and a really good passer. Senior four-man Kendall Stubblefield is a clever post area scorer and a very aggressive rebounder who maximizes his abilities. Senior Nathan Metzger and junior Kiran Kruse are both good perimeter shooters with 3-point range who force the opponent to come out and guard them.
#7 Capital Christian (Sacramento) – Sac Joaquin Section Division 1 Semi-Finalist, 22-8/12-0
The Cougars record is a little mis-leading. They struggled early for various reasons but have since found themselves. They have wins over Folsom and Sheldon. Among their losses are Salesian, Garfield (WA State Champion), Modesto Christian (twice), Rancho Christian and Bishop O’Dowd. Their roster is guard dominant and they rely on perimeter shooting and individual talents a great deal.
They are lead by their senior combo guard Zach Chappell. Chappell is a talented all-around scorer who is a very difficult matchup. Senior wing Rick Barros provides consistent scoring from all three levels. Senior Micah Filer and junior Preston Hall are two guards who can shoot it with 3-point range. Junior point guard Trey Jones is the key cog in the arsenal who makes a lot of plays for his teammates.
#8 Folsom – Sac Joaquin Section Division 1 Semi-Finalist, 25-5/11-1
The Bulldogs had won 15 of their last 16 until an overtime loss to Sheldon in the section semi- finals. They have a win over Bishop Gorman (NV State champion) and losses to Capital Christian, Garfield (WA State Champion) and Pinnacle (AZ State Champion). They are a veteran team that starts five seniors. They are comfortable in an up-tempo or a half-court style of play.
They are lead by Harvard-bound postman Mason Forbes who can score, rebound and block shots. Point guard Eljay Gallegos is a hustler with a big-time motor and he ignites his team. Wing man Isaiah Jones and two guard Jayce McCain both provide consistent perimeter shooting. Strong-bodied wing Martis Johnson gets to the basket on the drive and is a solid rebounder.