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PREP BASKETBALL RANKINGS: The final push
Mid-Valley teams competing for playoffs
The home stretch is upon us.
Two weeks, 14 days, 336 hours, anyway you look at it, there's not a lot of time left in prep basketball's regular season.
Local squads enter the final games of league play vying for championship crowns and playoff seeds.
Mid-Valley programs have one final shot over the last couple of weeks to make their case for a spot in the section championship bracket.
As we saw with the New York Giants on Sunday, it doesn't matter how you get to the tournament or how good the season record looks — all that matters is getting into the dance.
GAME TO WATCH: Natomas at River Valley, Friday, 7 p.m.
PRIME-TIME PERFORMER: River Valley senior Manik Thiara — Thiara is arguably playing the best basketball of his entire prep career.
Since our last rankings, Thiara put up 27 points against Inderkum and dropped 28 on Yuba City in the top performance of his four-year stint with the Falcons' varsity program.
1. River Valley Falcons
Record: 18-4, 6-1 in Tri-County Conference
Current playoff seed (previous): No. 12 in Division II (15)
Catching up: Since losing at Natomas on Jan. 19, the Falcons have won four in a row, including a 65-61 thriller over Yuba City, the program's first victory over the Honkers.
Last week, the Falcons crushed Woodland and Pioneer.
Coming up next: River Valley can exact some revenge on Friday at home against Natomas. The Falcons close out the regular season next week at Inderkum and Yuba City.
Breakdown: R.V. jumped three spots in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division II power ratings this week to No. 12.
That's a good sign for the remainder of the season, but the Falcons need to take care of business if they hope to continue their ascent.
They're four spots away from getting that coveted first-round home playoff game and one loss down the stretch might hamper that goal.
2. Lindhurst Blazers
Record: 17-6, 5-1 in Golden Empire League
Current playoff seed: No. 6 in D-III (3)
Catching up: The Blazers hadn't lost in a month until Capital Christian spoiled the party last week.
The Cougars' dominant front line that averages 6-foot-5 led them to a 73-58 rout in Olivehurst.
Coming up next: GEL play continues with road contests at West Campus and Dixon this week.
Lindhurst ends the regular season next week at home against Marysville and the season finale is at Capital Christian on Feb. 17.
Breakdown: On paper, Capital Christian is a Division-V program, but the Cougars can hang with many of the top tier teams in the section.
However, that lopsided loss plummeted Lindhurst three spots in the D-III power ratings. That still means a first-round home game, but to retain that GEL title, Lindhurst has to win out, or hope Capital slips up.
3. Yuba City Honkers
Record: 14-9, 6-1 in TCC
Current playoff seed: No. 13 in D-III (16)
Catching up: Yuba City bounced back from that loss to River Valley with big wins over Natomas and Inderkum.
Coming up next: In their next two games the Honkers face TCC bottom-feeders Woodland and Pioneer before a rematch with the Falcons on Feb. 17.
Breakdown: Senior Matt Hayes not only recorded his 22nd consecutive double-double against Inderkum on Friday night, but also recorded his first triple-double of the season with 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
4. Gridley Bulldogs
Record: 10-11, 3-2 in Butte View League
Current playoff seed: No. 4 in D-IV
Catching up: The Bulldogs split their last two BVL games since our last rankings, defeating Wheatland and losing to Orland.
Coming up next: Gridley hosts Sutter today followed by a trip to Winters on Friday night. The Bulldogs end BVL play on Feb. 16 against the Pirates.
Breakdown: Gridley's only two losses in BVL play are to Orland, the No. 1 seed in D-IV and the reigning league champs.
If the Bulldogs can stay unscathed in their final three games, they will likely be assured two home games in the postseason.
5. Faith Christian Lions
Record: 18-4, 6-2 in Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League
Current playoff seed: No. 7 in D-V (7)
Catching up: Faith is 2-2 in its last four SMAL games, including a lopsided 98-74 loss to Valley Christian, along with Friday's 10-point loss at Buckingham Charter.
Coming up next: The Lions will try to get back on track this week, beginning tonight at Wilton Christian. Faith will travel to Sacramento Adventist on Thursday.
Breakdown: That loss to Buckingham Charter didn't do too much damage to Faith as the Lions stayed at No. 7 in the D-V power ratings.
The goal now is to stay in the top eight and earn a first-round home game.
On the cusp: Live Oak (9-9, 2-4 in Sacramento Valley League) — The Lions are at No. 10 in the Northern Section's D-IV ratings.
GAME TO WATCH: Willows at Colusa, today, 7 p.m.
PRIME-TIME PERFORMER: Sutter junior Erika Larsen — The Huskies' lengthy 6-foot-2 center is on a tear.
She's recorded 15 straight double-doubles, which included a triple-double against Victory Christian on Jan. 25.
1. River Valley Falcons
Record: 19-5, 6-1 in TCC
Current playoff seed: No. 11 in D-II (13)
Catching up: The Falcons have won 10 of their last 11 games, the only loss coming to Inderkum, the No. 9 team in Division II and No. 1 squad in the TCC.
Coming up next: R.V. finishes the regular season with road games against Natomas and Yuba City, sandwiched in between is a home game with Inderkum for the TCC title.
Breakdown: R.V. moved up two spots in the rankings. Getting a first-round home game will be tough considering Inderkum (17-4), the top team in the TCC, is only ranked at No. 9.
2. Colusa RedHawks
Record: 26-5, 4-3 in SVL
Current playoff seed: No. 3 in D-V
Catching up: Colusa snapped a three-game losing streak with wins over Pierce and Durham last week.
Coming up next: The RedHawks have a huge game tonight with Willows. The Honkers crushed Colusa 65-42 the last time these two teams met.
Trinity, which is undefeated in the SVL, comes to town on Saturday, followed by the regular season finale on Feb. 14 at Live Oak.
Breakdown: At No. 3, the RedHawks have a strong seed heading into the postseason.
The most difficult part of their schedule is the final three games. They'll need a good performance to surpass No. 2 East Nicolaus, a team Colusa defeated already this season.
3. Live Oak Lions
Record: 13-7, 3-3 in SVL
Current playoff seed: No. 4 in D-IV
Catching up: The Lions had a big win over Colusa on Jan. 26, though have dropped two straight to Durham and Willows.
Coming up next: Live Oak hosts first-place Trinity tonight and ends SVL play with matchups against Colusa County schools Pierce and Colusa.
Breakdown: With a No. 4 seed, the Lions would potentially have two home playoff games.
To hang on to that seed, Live Oak must weather these final three games.
4. Marysville Indians
Record: 12-10, 2-4 in GEL
Current playoff seed: None (No. 19 in D-IV)
Catching up: The Indians have lost three of four in GEL play.
Coming up next: Marysville can recover with two home games this week against Mesa Verde and West Campus.
Breakdown: Marysville is still outside of the playoff picture.
To get into the top 16, the Indians have to knock off a couple teams ahead of them in the GEL standings.
5. Biggs Wolverines
Record: 14-7, 2-1 in Mid-Valley League - North
Current playoff seed: No. 6 in D-V
Catching up: Tim Sheridan's Wolverines beat East Nicolaus on Friday, 51-32.
Coming up next: The Wolverines travel to Esparto on Wednesday, with home dates against Los Molinos and Quincy scheduled after that.
Breakdown: Biggs cracks our rankings for the first time this season with its huge win over the Spartans.
The Wolverines' resume is impressive with their only lopsided loss this season coming to league foe Hamilton (21-0), the top team in D-V and, potentially, the section.
On the cusp: East Nicolaus Spartans (18-5, 3-1 in MVL — South) — The Spartans are the No. 2 team in D-V, but had a huge setback at Biggs on Friday night.