FAIRFIELD — If the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball playoffs started today, at least two local teams would be in pretty good shape.
Both the Armijo and Vanden High girls teams were in the top four in the section power ratings released on Tuesday.
The Indians are ranked fourth in Division I, behind Oak Ridge, St. Mary’s of Stockton and Kennedy of Sacramento.
In Division III, the road gets a bit clearer for the Vikings, who have seen their two biggest rivals for a section crown move to bigger divisions the last two years.
Vanden is No. 3 in Division III behind Christian Brothers and Rio Americano.
Without St. Mary’s, No. 2 in Division I, or Sacramento, No. 1 in Division II, the Vikings would face a new opponent should they reach the section semifinals as they have the last several years.
That said, the playoffs don’t start today, rather there is a lot of basketball to be played before the Feb. 19 playoff openers.
“I like the place we are,” said Armijo coach Christian Stoll. “I think if we are able to go 10-0 in league, we’ll be able to get that (No.) 3 or 4 spot, which is key.”
Stoll added that he thinks the section is deeper than in previous years and there’s not much drop off from the top four.
“The (Delta River League) is pretty deep,” Stoll said of the league that is home to Oak Ridge as well as No. 10 Pleasant Grove, No. 13 St, Francis and No. 14 Sheldon. “Plus McClatchy (and) Kennedy, they’re all pretty good teams. So it’s definitely key to get those first two home games.”
To do that, Stoll said the Indians must keep up the intensity that they maintained through the first five Monticello Empire League games.
“We’ve just got to stay motivated and come out with same intensity and I think other teams in league bring it even harder,” he said. “There’s still a lot to fight for, like the league title. We’re going for our third straight league title.”
Even as highly ranked as the Indians are, Stoll said it’s hardly a sure thing they’ll stay there.
“Stay undefeated is key for that playoff spot, I think if we lose a game, we’ll drop quite a bit,” he said.
Vanden coach Allison Johnson was pleased with her team’s ranking, but lamented the Solano County Athletic Conference’s low league strength rating of 5.3.
“Our league strength rating was unbelievably poor, so that is something that affects us being No. 3,” Johnson said. “The league strength rating was a huge factor.”
Still the Vikings are in an enviable position as they make the push to finish the conference season unbeaten.
“Things can shift, (we want to) be in the top four and just keep improving,” Johnson said. “Keep trying to peak at the end to prepare for that – and the girls are working hard.”
Johnson said that despite a ninth straight 20-win season, her team has yet to really gel.
“It’s scary because we’re not playing well offensively,” she said. “We’e not clicking on all cylinders offensively, which I think is a good thing.”
On the boys side, there are some surprises.
Rodriguez landed in that category after the Mustangs surged to a 5-0 record in MEL play (6-0 after Tuesday’s win), resulting in a No. 8 ranking in Division I.
In Division II, Vacaville is No. 14, and Wood is on the outside looking in at No. 21.
As the Fairfield boys continue to take care of business in the SCAC, they earned a No. 8 ranking in Division III.
Vanden, which started strong but has struggled recently, came in at No. 18, just outside the playoff picture.
In Division V, Buckingham Charter’s stellar play in league earned the Knights a No. 6 ranking.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.