Northern California 1st Round Match ups
(19) Merritt (17-11) @ (14) American River (15-11)
In first round action 14th seeded American River will host 19th seeded Merritt on Wednesday as the Northern California playoffs get underway. American River comes into the contest as the higher seed after winning 15 games and finishing in a three way tie for fourth place in the Big 8 Conference with a 7-9 record. Meanwhile, Merritt comes into the contest as the 19th seed and the Thunderbirds finished tied for 2nd place in the Bay Valley Conference.
American River (15-11): The Beavers come into the contest as the possible favorite as American River won 15 games this season and look to advance to the second round with a win. American River started the season 10-2 and picked up solid victories against Los Medanos, Lassen and Columbia (teams that made the post season). When conference came around, the Beavers struggled in conference and come into the post season losing three of their last four games but picked up a 95-91 win over Sierra. American River is led by sophomore Tommy Edwards as the wing is averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest this season. Edwards is a deep ball threat as the sophomore has made 39% from downtown and has made 72 three pointers this season. Sophomore Parker Haven has had a standout season for the Beavers as the forward averaged 15.8 points and 10.5 rebounds this season. Haven averaged a double double on the season and was fourth in the state in offensive rebounds with 111 this season. In the back court, sophomore LJ Smith has been solid as the guard has averaged 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest this season. Smith shot 38% from downtown and has played solid basketball for the Beavers. Freshman Kareem Clark is the last player that averaged in double figures as the guard put up 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds and will be another player that had a standout season. Point guard Jermaine Henderson averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 assists and the sophomore has been a steady leader for the Beavers this season. American River can put up points as the Beavers averaged 82.4 points which was 11th in the state and 18th in the state in 3 point field goal percent (36%). American River is great on the glass as the Beavers average 40.8 rebounds and have a 9.9 rebound margin which is good for 9th in the state in that category.
Merritt (17-11): The Thunderbirds come into the contest as a 19th seed as Merritt has been a surprise team in Northern California. Merritt won 17 games and finished with an 11-5 record in Bay Valley Conference action to get into the post season. Merritt got into the post season as the last available seed and the Thunderbirds picked up a win over Yuba for one of their main victories on the season. The freshman heavy team is led in scoring by Solomon Bland as the freshman is averaging 12.4 points this season. Bland scored a season high of 33 points against Contra Costa and the guard has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games. Sherab Nyima is another threat at the offensive end as the guard is averaging 12.4 points and 3.5 assists in his freshman campaign. Nyima is 31st in the state in three point field goal percentage and the guard averages a team high in assists averaging 3.5 per contest. Jamoni Barber (10.6 points and 3.3 rebounds) and Carlos Harrison (8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds) are two other players that will look to provide some scoring for the Thunderbirds in this first round match up on the road against American River. Merritt averages 70.6 points per contest and may need to score some points to stay in this game as the Thunderbirds give up 67.5 points per contest. If Merritt does not control the glass it could be a long night for the Bay Valley Conference 2nd place team.
(18) West Valley (14-14) @ (15) Sacramento (15-13)
In another first round match up 18th seeded West Valley (14-14) will be on the road and face off against 15th seeded Sacramento (15-13) on Wednesday. It will be the second meeting between the two teams as Sacramento picked up a win in the earlier match up between the two teams. The third place team from the Coast South Conference will look to pick up the road victory over a solid Big 8 opponent. West Valley comes into the game winning three of the last four games and picked up a huge win against Cabrillo on the final game of the season. The Panthers come into the game winners of the last four games and knocked off San Joaquin Delta on the last game of the season.
Sacramento (15-13): The Panthers come into the match up and will have home court advantage in first round action against West Valley. It will be a rematch of a game where the two teams played earlier this season as the Panthers cruised past West Valley 87-71 in Saratoga. In that game earlier this season freshman Greg Milton III made eight three pointers and scored 37 points in the victory, while Chris Lennear added 21 points for the Panthers. The game was tied at halftime but the Panthers pulled away in the second half. Sacramento has two players that are averaging in double figures this season as Greg Milton III leads the team in scoring as the freshman averaged 18.5 points and 5.0 rebounds and the guard shot 38% from downtown. Sophomore Kyle Williams (12.5 points and 4.4 rebounds), and Mason Johnson (9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds) are two other players that could provide a scoring punch to the Panthers in the game. Sacramento averages 74.0 points per contest and the Panthers give up 70.6 points per contest this season. One area where the Panthers strive in is on the offensive glass as Sacramento averages 11.9 offensive rebounds per contest and hold a 7.4 rebound margin per contest.
West Valley (14-14): The Vikings come into the contest as a better team than their record shows as West Valley won 14 games this season. West Valley played a difficult schedule as 11 of their 14 losses game against teams that are playing in the post season. The Vikings picked up 14 wins and went 8-4 in conference action to earn the 18th seed in the post season. West Valley is led by all conference guard Devante Johnson as the sophomore is averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds. Johnson scored a season high of 27 points against Gavilan on February 22nd and will look to have a solid game against Sacramento. Cristian Mejia (10.0 points) and freshman Jacquez Walker (10.2 points) are two other Vikings that score in double figures and will look to provide a scoring punch for the Vikings in first round action. West Valley averages 71.6 points and do a very good job at taking care of the ball as the Vikings averaged 13.0 turnovers per contest which was 24th in the state. The Vikings give up 69.1 points per contest and will look to pick up the road victory over Sacramento in first round action.
(17) Lassen (16-10) @ (16) Cosumnes River (16-12)
In the final first round match up 17th seeded Lassen (16-11) will travel to 16th seeded Cosumnes River (16-12) in Sacramento on Wednesday evening. It will be the second time the two teams have met this season as Cosumnes River picked up a 79-73 win over Lassen at the Mendocino Tournament. Cosumnes River comes into the game winning 16 games and finished third place in the Big 8 Conference, while Lassen won 16 games and finished in 2nd place in the Golden Valley Conference.
Cosumnes River (16-12): The Hawks come into the contest winners of four of their last five games and Cosumnes River finished with 16 wins and went 11-5 in Big 8 Conference action. It will be the second time this season the two teams met as the Hawks came from behind at the half and picked up a 79-73 win at the Mendocino Tournament. In that match up Khari Hutt had 18 points and Drew Buggs and Marcus Robinson each scored 14 points in the win. This season have four players that average in double figures led by guard Khari Hutt who averages 14.1 points and 3.5 assists this season. The sophomore led the Hawks in scoring and scored a season high of 27 points against Modesto on February 12th. Paul Ohiri (13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds) and Drew Buggs (10.0 points and 7.7 rebounds) will provide front court depth and both have had standout seasons for the Hawks. Freshman Marcus Robinson (13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists) has had a standout season and will provide some scoring and versatility to the Hawks as well. Cosumnes River averages 72.7 points per game and the Hawks give up 69.5 points per contest this season. The Hawks will look to pick up the advantage on the glass where Cosumnes River has been solid all season as the Hawks average 13.4 offensive rebounds per game and are 16th in the state in rebounding margin with a 7.5 advantage in that area. Defensively the Hawks have been solid as Cosumnes River comes into the contest holding opponents to a 41% clip from the floor.
Lassen (16-10): The Cougars come into the contest on a seven game winning streak as Lassen finished 16-10 and 7-3 in Golden Valley Conference action with a second place finish. In the meeting earlier between the two teams, Cosumnes River picked up a 79-73 win over Lassen as the Cougars were led by Tarren Storey Way as the forward had 16 points in the loss. Lassen has three players that average in double figures as Tarren Storey-Way leads the Cougars in scoring as the sophomore averages 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Storey Way shoots 55% from the floor and has scored over 20 points eleven times this season. Theo Howard is another player that has been solid for the Cougars this season as the guard averaged 15.4 points and 3.1 rebounds this past season. Howard has had a solid season and the guard will look to have a solid game against the Hawks in first round action. Andrew Rippingham (10.9 points and 2.7 rebounds) and Rikkert De Maertelaere (7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds) are two other players that could provide some scoring for the Cougars in the first round match up. Lassen averages 81.4 points which is 16th in the state and give up 78.0 points per contest. Lassen will look to play up tempo and pick up the first round road victory over Cosumnes River.