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Crunch Time

Before action gets underway tonight, I thought we’d take a quick look at each of the NCS boys basketball semifinal matchups for Division I through III.

DIVISION I
(5) Monte Vista vs. (1) De La Salle: As well as the Mustangs (21-7) have been playing, I just don’t know what they have left after another emotional game against rival San Ramon Valley. Monte Vista should be able to stay with the Spartans (26-1) for a half, but will likely be worn down by De La Salle’s pressure defense. Prediction: De La Salle 55-41
(7) Deer Valley at (3) Newark Memorial: Whoa! What got into the Wolverines? Deer Valley (19-9) lost four of five to close out the season, and suddenly they’re knocking off the San Leandro team that everyone figured had the best shot at De La Salle. Suddenly Eric Bamberger’s team has rallied, but how long will it hold up? Newark Memorial (22-7) has now won 18 straight and would love another shot title shot against De La Salle — which beat them at the Arena in 2004. Prediction: Newark Memorial 50-46
DIVISION II
(9) Clayton Valley at (4) Richmond: Think that No. 9 seed may have inspired the Eagles (19-9)? Drew Menez is playing his best basketball of the season, and Clayton Valley is playing with some serious purpose. To beat the Oilers (19-7), though, Clayton Valley must control the pace and hope for a low-scoring game. If they are successful in doing that, this one will be really close. Prediction: Richmond 59-58
(6) Eureka at (2) Montgomery-Santa Rosa: I know very little about either program, but Montgomery (22-7) beat a very good Casa Grande team on Wednesday and gets to return to its home floor, where it rarely loses. Eureka (25-5) has the most wins in the bracket, but the travel really takes a lot of out of the Humboldt teams. Prediction: Montgomery 65-55
DIVISION III
(4) Bishop O’Dowd at (1) Campolindo: The Dragons (19-8) are the toughest team the Cougars (24-3) have seen since December. That being said, Campolindo has the talent and the schemes to beat O’Dowd. Rebounding will be the key. If the Cougars win the battle on the boards, keeping the Dragons to one shot each time down the floor, then Campo will be playing for its second straight NCS title. Prediction: Campolindo 53-49
(6) Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo at (2) De Anza: Drake (21-9) was probably seeded a little too low, so it’s no surprise to see them reach the semifinals by beating No. 3 Del Norte-Crescent City. The Dons (22-5) have the talent and athleticism to win, and should look to pressure the ball and get as many fast breaks as possible. Prediction: De Anza 64-62

Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to get to full Division IV breakdowns. But I’ll still throw out predictions.
(4) St. Mary’s 60, (1) Cardinal Newman 58
(2) Salesian 58, (11) Arcata 46

Come back tomorrow morning for breakdowns/predictions on the four championship games.

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