By Ray Hamill — Fasten your seat belts, Wednesday night is going to be a wild one for local basketball fans, who will have their pick of 12 big games here on the North Coast.
The NCS playoff brackets were released early on Sunday afternoon with 13 of the 18 local high school teams qualifying.
And 12 of those teams will be playing on Wednesday night — two on the road — along with both College of the Redwoods teams, each of which will be looking to secure a conference championship when they host Shasta.
Here then are are five takeaways from Sunday’s seedings.
1 — Eureka girls well positioned
The Loggers received the No. 6 seed in the girls Division-III bracket, and will open at home to Sonoma Valley on Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to play at No. 3 Campolindo on Friday night.
It doesn’t appear to be a bad draw for the Eureka girls, although they had hoped for a higher seed.
The 20-9 Loggers will be expected to beat Sonoma Valley (11-13) at home, and aside from the lengthy road trip for a potential quarterfinal showdown, they should match up well against a Campolindo team that is just 10 spots ahead of them in the state rankings, according to MaxPreps.
The Eureka girls will also carry plenty of momentum and self-belief into the postseason after their thrilling comeback on the way to winning the Dick Niclai tournament, and head coach Michael Harvey says he’s glad they didn’t get a bye.
“We want to keep the momentum going,” he said.
Eureka also is on the opposite side of the draw from No. 1 seed Moreau Catholic.
2 — Fortuna girls well positioned to bounce right back
Like the Loggers, the Huskies appear to have received a pretty good draw, at least in the opening round.
Fortuna (23-3) is the No. 6 seed in a loaded Division-IV bracket and will open against No. 11 Terra Linda (13-13) at home on Wednesday night.
The Trojans are a low-scoring team, averaging just 39.2 points a game and that should play into the hands of a dominating defensive team like Fortuna.
The Huskies will have added motivation too after Friday night’s disappointing loss to Eureka.
3 — Wednesday night will be a wild one
With four doubleheaders on tap, and a total of 12 big games here on the North Coast, Wednesday night will be a busy one for local basketball.
St. Bernard’s, South Fork and Ferndale will each host NCS doubleheaders, with games at 5:30 and 7, while the two College of the Redwoods teams play at 5 (men) and 7 (women).
In addition, the Arcata, Del Norte and Eureka boys will each also host their NCS openers, as will the Fortuna girls, with all four of those games tipping off at 7 p.m.
The only two H-DNL teams who have to travel for their NCS openers are the Del Norte and McKinleyville girls.
4 — Little 4 boys dominate top seeds in Division VI
With three of the top-four seeds in Division VI coming from the Little 4, there is a pretty good chance the NCS crown will be headed to Humboldt County.
St. Bernard’s is the No. 1 seed, with conference rivals South Fork No. 3 and Ferndale No. 4.
All three open at home on Wednesday night and all three will be expected to move on, with SB and Ferndale on course to potentially meet in a semifinal, if each can win their opening two games.
California School for the Deaf is the No. 2 seed in the bracket and appears to be the most likely candidate to spoil the Little 4 party.
5 — Home games for Big 5 boys, but not enough respect for Del Norte
I’m not sure just how much more the Warriors could have done to impress the NCS seedings committee, which must not have seen Friday’s Niclai championship game.
Del Norte (22-1) is seeded No. 5 in Division IV, ahead of conference rivals Arcata at No. 7 and Eureka at No. 8.
The good news is all three will get a home game on Wednesday, but all three will have to travel for a potential second-round clash.
And that seems a little unfair to a team like Del Norte, which has dominated all season long.
One seed higher would have given the Warriors a potential second home game in the playoffs, instead of probably having to travel all the way to San Francisco to take on a No. 4 University team that is ranked No. 166 in the state, 46 spots behind Del Norte (No. 122).
If the Warriors have to hit the road for Friday’s second-round game, it shouldn’t bother them because they’re well used to the travel.
But it would have been a special occasion for the Del Norte fans to have that potential second game in Crescent City, and something the players deserved after playing just six home games all season.