Mike Wilson made himself comfortable in the chair, leaning back with his legs cast out in front of him.
His Central Catholic High boys basketball team was just minutes removed from winning its third straight Sac-Joaquin Section title, and the mood inside the champion’s room at the University of the Pacific was …
With a pinch of height and dynamic guard play, a dash of experience, and generous portions of instruction from his staff, Central Catholic’s 13th-year coach cooks with confidence these days.
There’s an expectation, he says, to win at a clip and level long enjoyed by the school’s elite football program. The Raiders have won four CIF State football titles, each in succession from 2012 to 2015.
With the section tournament solved, the boys basketball program now takes aim at its first regional and state championship.
Fourth-seeded Central Catholic (28-2) opens the CIF State Division III Northern California regional tournament on Wednesday at home against No. 13 Monterey (19-8), a Central Coast Section runner-up.
“It’s not a cockiness,” Wilson said. “It’s confidence. They know they can play. They’re very confident they can compete with anyone. We won’t always win, but whoever we play against will feel us and know we won’t quit. That’s been my biggest goal as a coach, is getting these kids to believe.”
In other regional games on Wednesday, Ripon Christian will host a D-VI doubleheader for its section-title winning boys and girls programs. The third-seeded girls will host No. 6 Laytonville at 6 p.m. The top-seeded boys will follow against No. 8 San Francisco Waldorf.
Western Athletic Conference champion Patterson, a No. 14 seed in D-III, will travel to No. 3 University. In D-IV, No. 7 Calaveras will host No. 10 Woodside Piory, and No. 11 Sonora will travel to No. 6 Lick-Wilmerding of San Francisco.
Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion Argonaut is the No. 1 seed in the D-V regional tournament and will host No. 16 Durham.
On the girls' side, No. 10 Lathrop opens the D-III tournament at No. 7 Clovis. In D-V, No. 3 Argonaut welcomes No. 14 Castilleja, and No. 8 Mariposa hosts regional foe Chowchilla. No. 11 Summerville goes on the road to No. 6 Durham.
Central Catholic has qualified for the regional tournament in six of the last seven years.
The Raiders were seeded fourth last year, too, and reached the semifinal round of the Division IV tournament with a band of sharpshooting guards, including Cal Poly freshman Jared Rice and Amrit Dhaliwal, a hero in the team’s overtime victory against West Campus in the section final.
Central Catholic went on the road to top-seeded Palma and lost a thriller, 64-59.
“Every group is different, but it seems like we’re taking steps forward every year,” said Wilson, who has won a career-high 28 games this season. “The expectation is to be at this point in the season, which was always my goal for this program. I want them to have that kind of confidence in themselves.
“Last year’s group was so disappointed, because they had the same goals. The young kids were there watching. Even though they didn’t really play, I hope they learned from that.”
Wilson will know soon enough.
Monterey is no secret.
The Raiders got a chance to watch them play twice at the Carmel Tournament in December. The Toreadores are 19-8, and will future four juniors exclusively: Mohammed and Mohanid Adam, Evan Charles, and Tahjae Odonio.
Monterey had won six straight games before suffering a 61-56 loss to Archbishop Riordan in the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs. The quartet accounted for all 56 of the team’s points.
Mohammed Adam had a team-high 18, Charles netted 16, and Mohanid Adam finished with 13. Ordinio had nine for the Toreadores, whose bid for a second straight D-III title came off the rails late.
“We know their talent level and their effort level,” Wilson said. “They’ll take the game right to you if you let them.
“There are a lot of teams that are very similar and very tough. That’s the constant reminder. This is a whole different deal, regarding respect for your opponent. Everybody is tough."