On to Round Two of the Nor Cal High School Basketball Playoffs.
The key number is two. That is also how many local teams are left.
The two teams are the Cardinal Newman and Cloverdale Girls and they literally have different roads to the Nor Cal Finals, which is next Saturday at American Canyon High School.
In the North Coast Section playoffs, both teams took a loss and are still going. There is no margin for error in the Nor Cal playoffs. One loss and the season is over.
It takes two wins to get to next weekend. Cardinal Newman’s road to get there is easier than Cloverdale, at least in travel time. Cardinal Newman is the No. 1 seed in Division 4 and needs two home wins. Cloverdale is No.6 in Division 5 and will probably have to win two road games.
Both the second round games start at 6 pm Saturday.
Some promising news is that based on the Power Rankings, both local teams are favorites.
No. 8 Scotts Valley (24-5) at No. 1 Cardinal Newman (27-5)

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Cardinal Newman’s Britta Irvine goes up with the left hand vs Salesian. Tonight the Cardinals face Scott’s Valley, a team they have meet in each of the past two season’s. (Photo by Jim Rael)

It has been a week since Cardinal Newman played, losing the NCS Division 4 championship game to Salesian 64-47.
While Cardinal Newman had the first round bye, Scotts Valley had a taste of the Nor Cal playoffs with a 70-57 win over Venture Academy in the opening round on Wednesday.
Like Cardinal Newman, Scotts Valley lost in the championship game of their section, a 52-51 decision to Sacred Heart Prep. Scotts Valley was the No. 1 seed, Sacred Heart Prep was No. 2. Because of that score Sacred Heart Prep is the No. 4 Norcal Seed, had a first round bye and with a home win, will meet the winner of this game in the next round.
Scott Valley’s leading scorer is senior point guard Nikiya Bechtle, who is averaging 18 points a game. She has hit half of the team’s three point shots and is an 80% free throw shooter.
Senior Sam Boyle is averaging almost a double-double at 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. She has had 14 double-double games on the season, including six of the last seven. In the game she didn’t double-double during that run, she was one rebound short. In the Wednesday playoff game her numbers were 21-17.
This is a familiar opponent for Cardinal Newman. Scotts Valley has finished 25-6 the last two seasons and two years ago they met in this round of the playoffs and roles were reversed… Scott Valley was the No. 1 seed and defeated No. 9 Cardinal Newman 58-48. They then lost the next round to Justin Siena.
Last year in the December tournament Cardinal Newman hosts, they met in the second round with Cardinal Newman taking a 63-42 win.
Then, like this season, after losing to Salesian in the NCS playoffs, Cardinal Newman was the No. 1 seed. Deer Valley was No. 2 and both lost in the semi-finals.
As for the power rankings, Cardinal Newman is ranked No. 30 in the state, while Scotts Valley is No. 98.
No. 6 Cloverdale (25-7) at No. 3 Woodside Priory (18-6)
This is a matchup where opposites attract.
Woodside Priory is a private school of 370 in Portola Valley which is about fifteen minutes from Stanford.
That isn’t the only opposite about the two teams. It is hard to find a younger team than Cardinal Newman, but Woodside Priory qualifies. They have no juniors or seniors on the team, which means the best maybe yet to come for them. That doesn’t mean much to Cloverdale whose future is now. They have five seniors on the team who combined for 46 points in a 52-33 win over Mariposa County in the first round win.
Actually, it appears something happened to the school’s Girls program. The school is sixty years old but the Max Preps history page is a weird one. From 2004 to 2007 they were a combined 13-37 and 4-33 in the West Bay League. After that there is no Varsity record until last year when they went 7-9 overall and 3-9 in league.
Earlier in this year an article in the San Jose Mercury News called the program “a fledgling one”. Whatever happened to earn that, they have recovered. This year they tied for first in their league and went to the Central Coast Section championship game, where they lost to Eastside College Prep 65-44. Eastside College Prep is the No. 1 seed in this bracket. The loss snapped a 13 game winning streak.
The leading scorer is sophomore Tatiana Reese who is averaging 20.6. She has scored at least 20 points in twelve games and hit over 30 in three. She had a 39 point, 17 rebound game in a 76-66 win over Harker.
In the same game freshman Ila Lane scored 29 and pulled down 18 rebounds. That is one of her 15 games she has had a double-double. She actually averages a double double at 14.8 and 11.5. Lane has the talent and the blood. Her dad is former NBA center Juwan Howard, who was probably more famous as a member of the Chris Weber led Fab 5 of Michigan in the early 90’s.
The Wednesday win was the first one for Cloverdale in the Nor Cal playoffs in three decades. That was a different playoff world then, with only three Divisions and all the game were played on neutral courts. Now one of the disadvantages of trying to win the state playoffs is not only beating good teams, but if you aren’t seeded right you have to do it on the other teams home court. That has already bugged me because the seedings are not an exact science. Having said that, Cloverdale was the beneficiary of that in its Round One win and now they have to beat the traffic and take on the weather. It is a safe bet the Cloverdale fan base will have a good turnout.
It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd and atmosphere will be waiting for them. One thing that might keep the hometown crowd down is that the Boys team, who is the No. 8 seed in Division 5, is on the road at St. Joseph of Notre Dame. That could be where Cloverdale goes next in the Girls bracket, but first things first.
As far as the power rankings go, Cloverdale is No. 227 in the state, Woodside Priory is at 312.
Round one for the Open Division was played on Friday. This is the considered the cream of the crop of high school basketball and each the Boys and Girls is an eight team bracket in the North and South.
In the eight games the high seed (which is the home team) went 6-2. Both the wins were No. 6 defeating No. 3.
One of the No. 6 team that won was the Salesian Girls team that defeated Cardinal Newman for the NCS Division 4 championship. They went to San Jose and defeated Archbishop Mitty 70-66. Minyon Moore, who scored 31 in the win over Cardinal Newman, had a season high 40 in this one.
The Salesian Girls move on to travel to no. 2 Miramonte in the second round next Tuesday. Miramonte is 30-0 on the season and in the Power Rankings is ranked No. 6 in the state. They won their opening round game over Brookside Christian 109-41.
Most of the High School Girls basketball world is looking forward to a championship game between St. Mary’s of Stockton and Miramonte. St. Mary’s of Stockton is 28-0 on the season and No. 1 in the nation in the power rankings. They defeated NCS Division 2 power Carondelet in the first round 89-65.
The Salesian Boys lost a heart breaker. They were Seeded No. 8, so had to go to No. 1 De La Salle and dropped a 51-45 overtime game.
That was one game of quite a first round of the Open Bracket. The most one sided Nor Cal Boys final was No. 4 Sacramento defeating No. 5 Folsom 86-77. Sacramento was 14 down with six minutes left and rallied to win the game in Overtime.
The other two games were decided by three points. One of those was No. 6 Sheldon almost letting a twenty point lead slip away, before holding on to defeat No. 3 Moreau Catholic 88-85
My email address is jacpasquinio@comcast.net