Following Modesto Christian’s 60-56 victory over Sheldon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I boys championship game Saturday night at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, coach Brice Fantazia took time to ponder where his Crusaders might be seeded in the Northern California regional tournament’s Open Division.
“I was thinking two, just because I knew four teams from our section would be in the Open division and it’s a section we won,” said Fantazia, whose team was given the No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Bellarmine (San Jose) on Friday at 7 p.m.. “We have wins over four Open division teams.”
The rest of the NorCal Open Division bracket features No. 1 Salesian, the state’s top-ranked team by CalHiSports.com, hosting No. 8 Folsom, No. 4 Sheldon hosting No. 5 San Joaquin Memorial, and No. 2 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) entertaining No. 7 Capital Christian.
The Crusaders – ranked No. 6 in the state by CalHiSports, five spots ahead of O'Dowd – have wins this season over Sheldon, Memorial and two victories over Capital Christian.
“With the respect they showed this section I thought we might be No. 2,” said Fantazia, who guided MC to the school’s 19th section title, his first as head coach. “It is what it is. We’ve still got to win games and take care of business.”
It may seem like a trivial matter, being seeded second or third, but it’s the difference between two home games or one. Should MC and O’Dowd win Friday, they’d meet for the seventh time since 2013 – three of those previous meetings came in the regional tournament – in Oakland. The Crusaders (28-2) have only beaten the Dragons in Salida or on a neutral floor.
Bellarmine is led by 6-foot-4 guard Jake Wojcik, who has committed to play at Division I Siena, and 6-6, 230-pound center Kendall Stubblefield.
“They’ll be battled tested, coming from the West Catholic Athletic League,” said Fantazia, referring to a conference that has seven of its eight members in NorCal brackets. “But we’re battled tested, too. Our section is ridiculous.
“It should be a great matchup.”
CIF Northern California regional playoffs
(all games start at 7 p.m., unless noted)
Wednesday, March 7
No. 13 Monterey at No. 4 Central Catholic
No. 10 Beyer at No. 7 Sanger
No. 14 Patterson at No. 3 University (SF)
No. 10 Woodside Priory at No. 7 Calaveras
No. 11 Sonora at No. 6 Lick-Wilmerding (SF)
No. 16 Durham at No. 1 Argonaut
No. 11 Summerville at No. 6 Lassen
No. 8 San Francisco Waldorf at No. 1 Ripon Christian
Friday, March 9
No. 6 Bellarmine at No. 3 Modesto Christian
Wednesday, March 7
No. 10 Lathrop at No. 7 Clovis
No. 14 Castilleja at No. 3 Argonaut
No. 9 Chowchilla at No. 8 Mariposa
No. 11 Summerville at No. 6 Durham
No. 6 Laytonville at No. 3 Ripon Christian, 6 p.m.