Vanden girls, Fairfield, Rodriguez boys land home games for NorCal Regional openers

By From page B1 | March 10, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Going deep into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs paid off for three city basketball teams.

The brackets for the CIF State Basketball Championships were released Sunday, and the Vanden girls, along with the Fairfield and Rodriguez boys, landed home games in the opening round of the Northern California bracket.

The only local team to open on the road will be the Vanden boys.

The NorCal Regionals get underway Wednesday, with all games scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

If any of the teams are winners Wednesday, they will all be on the road for second-round games Saturday.

The Fairfield boys (25-6) earned the highest travel priority of the four teams, coming in at No. 5. The Falcons will open against Miramonte High after falling to Modesto Christian 61-50 in the SJS Division III championship at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Friday.

“I think this is the first NorCal game that we’ve hosted, at least in my tenure,” Falcons coach Eddie Wilson said. “I think in the NorCals, playing in front of your fans is important, but avoiding the long travel is also important. You get to stay in your routine.

“We gave the guys the weekend off. We’ll  show up Monday and try to address a couple of things as we move forward.”

The Vanden girls (23-6) and the Rodriguez boys (26-3) come into the tournament at No. 6, the Vikings in Division III, the Mustangs in Division I.

The Vikings are coming off an upset as the No. 1 seed in the SJS playoffs, falling to No. 4 Florin 45-38 in the Division III semifinals. Vanden will open at home against San Marin.

Getting to open at home is a good thing for the Vikings and coach Allison Johnson. Just don’t expect her to spend too much time worrying about things she can’t handle.

“I kind of have a general idea (about where the Vikings would be seeded), but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to predict it. A No. 6 looks good to me. It definitely was an abrasive learning lesson that they weren’t ready to experience (losing in the SJS semifinals).

“They are super focused. They just love playing. I don’t know how much location plays a part in it, but they will be excited to play a Round One game at home after a disappointing semifinal game.”

Vanden opened last year’s NorCals with a win at home over Encinal before losing in the next round on the road to St. Ignatius of San Francisco 57-53.

The only other city team to make the NorCals last season were the Armijo girls, which fell in the first round to McClymonds of Oakland.

Rodriguez, coming off a 96-68 loss to Jesuit of Carmichael in the SJS Division I final at Sleep Train Arena Saturday, will open at home against Menlo of Atherton.

“That was a good team,” Mustangs coach Nate Rankin said of the Marauders. “We tried so many things, but sometimes you just run into a good team. We’re a fast team, but that team had it all, the size and the speed.”

Rankin is savoring one last chance to play at home.

“Home games are important,” the coach said. “You get a chance for your fans to be there. The kids put themselves in that position. With the loss, I want to see how they respond.

“There were so many things we can take away (from the loss to Jesuit), especially defensive rotations, how we get back on transition defense. And I have to do a better job coaching. As a coach, you learn to make adjustments with play calling and personnel.”

The Vanden boys (19-11), coming into the tournament as a No. 10, open on the road at Aragon of San Mateo. The Vikings fell to Fairfield 80-59 in the SJS Division III semifinals at Cosumnes River College.

Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.

Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold

1992 graduate of San Francisco State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism.

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