NCS basketball: Gauchos, Jaguars are championship underdogs

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Facing longtime prep powerhouses on the road in section championship contests today adds a degree of difficulty for the Casa Grande girls and Windsor boys.

“We’re the underdog. We’re going to go down and give it our best shot,” said Casa Grande coach Dan Sack, as the Gauchos gird for Carondelet.

The girls North Coast Section Division 2 championship opens a doubleheader at Dublin High that also features Windsor’s boys taking on Newark Memorial. The games are in the East Bay because both Carondelet and Newark Memorial are the top-seeded teams.

“They’ve got a really good team. They are extremely athletic,” said Windsor coach Steve Kramer.

Not that Casa Grande and Windsor aren’t up to the challenge. Windsor is a second seed, and Casa is a No.3, both in NCS Division 2.

Still, the Empire’s best large-school squads must play with poise under sure pressure with the ball. Keeping the opposition out of their comfort zone when on defense also is critical to staying competitive.

“We’ve got to deal with their speed. We need to make them earn what they get,” Sack said of Carondelet, section champions seven of the past nine years. “We play hard all the time. The girls are not easily intimidated by size or speed.”

Casa Grande comes in with confidence having lost just once (30-1) on the season, taking both the Sonoma County League regular season and tournament titles and handling three section playoff opponents.

Carondelet, out of Concord and the east Bay Athletic League, is 25-3 and the state’s third ranked Division 2 team.

On the boys’ side, Windsor is another SCL champion — sharing the title with Analy during the regular season — riding a string of impressive section playoff wins. The Jaguars are 28-5.

Balanced scoring and closing out teams has been Windsor’s strength and the Jaguars — with five returning starters — will need their best bite to bring down Newark Memorial.

“We’re pretty experienced and play together well,” Kramer said.

The state’s second ranked Division 2 team, Newark Memorial has won ten straight Mission Valley Athletic League titles. The Cougars are 25-4.

Prep championship basketball action continues Saturday for Empire teams.

Both the Rincon Valley Christian boys and girls travel to Ferndale, in Humboldt County, for NCS Division 6 title games. Ferndale hosts the doubleheader.

The section’s top two seeds meet in the girls’ game. Number one Ferndale is 17-12. Second ranked Rincon Valley Christian is 16-14. Ferndale defeated the Eagles in a non-league game earlier this season.

After a pair of mild semifinal upsets, fourth seeded Rincon Valley Christian (23-8) concludes the season against third ranked Ferndale (14-12).

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

FRIDAY'S GAMES
NCS basketball championships
At Dublin High School

Division 2 girls final
No. 3 Casa Grande (30-1) vs. No. 1 Carondelet (25-3), 6 p.m.

Division 2 boys final
No. 2 Windsor (26-4) vs. No. 1 Newark Memorial (25-4), following the girls game

ONLINE
Press Democrat online sports editor Eric Wittmershaus will be in Dublin, blogging live during both games tonight at pdpreps.com.