By Ray Hamill — There are rarely any easy matchups at this stage of the prep basketball season, if you’re lucky enough to be still playing.
And that’s the case for the final three H-DNL teams still going, each of which will tip off the NorCal tournament in the next two days.
The Ferndale, St. Bernard’s and South Fork boys all qualified for the Division-VI tournament, giving the Little 4 a sizable presence in the eight-team bracket.
No. 6 St. Bernard’s and No. 8 South Fork will both open on the road against higher seeds on Wednesday night, with No. 4 Ferndale tipping off at home against No. 5 Stockton Christian on Thursday night at 6 p.m.
And all three teams know they’ll have to bring their A game every night from here on if they want to keep going.
The Crusaders play at No. 3 seed Fall River in McArthur, while the Cubs open at top seed Weed.
“We watched film on them and I think we’ve got a good shot,” St. Bernard’s head coach Steve Thrap said of Fall River. “But we need to play our best game. We just need to be sure of our passes. We just have to be on cue for everything we do. We can’t be lazy.”
The Bulldogs are 23-6 on the season after losing 49-47 to Weed in the Northern Section Division-VI championship game.
Because of that, Weed (21-4) secured the top seed for the bracket, and will open at home to South Fork.
Both of Wednesday’s games are set for 7 p.m.
Closer to home, the Wildcats will carry plenty of momentum into Thursday night’s showdown after claiming an NCS Division-VI championship on Saturday night, and beating the top two seeds in the bracket on the road on the way to doing so.
If the Cats continue to play defense as well as they have been, and if they continue to play effectively as a team, they’ll be tough to stop.
In fact, you get the feeling all three of the Little 4 teams will be tough to stop as they look to qualify three teams for the NorCal semifinals, just as they did for the NCS.