River Valley girls; Gridley, Colusa boys set for CIF state playoffs

March 8, 2018

The prep basketball season isn’t over just yet. In fact, the fourth phase of the season is ready to begin for three local section runner-ups.

After battling through nonleague play, league play and then the section playoffs over a long four-month grind, River Valley High’s girls team, along with boys squads from Gridley and Colusa, will begin their march toward possible state championships tonight as the CIF Northern California Regional Playoffs tip off at host schools across NorCal.

In a big change from previous years, the California Interscholastic Federation switched things up for the state basketball playoffs by moving some smaller schools into higher divisions and placing a handful of larger schools into lower ones under the model of “competitive equity.”

It’s the same format the CIF has used to set the pairings for its 13-division football championships for the last three years, and a huge change from before, when basketball teams were placed in their divisions based solely on school size.

On of the biggest winners under the new format was Gridley, which made it to the Northern Section Division IV championship game but was moved down to Division V for the state playoffs.

The Bulldogs (23-6) were rewarded nicely with the No. 2 seed in the NorCal bracket and will host No. 15 Brookside Christian of Stockton (20-8) today at 7 p.m. at Farmer’s Hall.

Should Gridley win, it will host the winner between No. 7 Redwood Christian of San Lorenzo (21-9) and No. 10 Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento (23-6) in the second round on Saturday.

But while the Bulldogs benefited from the format change by the CIF, the team they lost to in the section championship game received the worst news possible.

Despite winning its second straight Northern Section Division IV title with a convincing 56-36 victory over Gridley last Saturday at Butte College, Corning (25-4) was given the No. 13 seed in Division IV for the state playoffs, and will have to travel to Auburn to take on No. 4 Placer in the opening round tonight.

Placer (23-8) was a semifinalist in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs but was deemed the better team in the eyes of the CIF and given the higher seed, much to the dismay to those in Corning and throughout the Northern Section who thought the Cardinals earned the right to host a state playoff game for winning a section title.

One team that stayed where it belonged was River Valley’s girls squad, which received the No. 13 seed in Division III and will play the second state playoff game in program history tonight when it travels to take on No. 4 Piedmont.

The Falcons (23-8) made their deepest playoff run ever and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game for the first time before losing to defending champion Christian Brothers, 72-58, last Saturday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Piedmont (23-6), which is located just east of Oakland, was a semifinalist in the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs, but was bumped up to D-III for state.

Should River Valley win tonight’s matchup, it will travel to play either No. 5 West Campus of Sacramento (24-7) or No. 12 Yosemite of Oakhurst (25-7) on Saturday night in the second round.

Rounding out the local teams is Colusa’s boys squad, which received the No. 14 seed in Division V, the same bracket as Gridley, and will travel to play No. 3 Colfax tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The RedHawks (24-5) reached the Northern Section Division V championship game and led nearly the entire game before eventually losing to Mt. Shasta, 66-56, last Saturday at Butte College.

Colfax (21-9) was a section runner-up as well, making it to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title game before losing to Argonaut, 74-57.

Should Colusa win tonight, it will hit the road to either Susanville to play No. 6 Lassen (21-8), which was another Northern Section team that was dropped down a division, or to Tuolumne to face No. 11 Summerville (17-12) on Saturday.

State championship games for both boys and girls will be played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24.