Stockdale's girls basketball team got a surprise gift Saturday when the Central Section announced playoff basketball brackets: The Mustangs are the No. 1 seed in Division I.
Stockdale, the Southwest Yosemite League champion, had thought an overtime home loss to Clovis in January would relegate it much further down the D-I food chain, but the seeding committee gave credit to the Mustangs' strength of schedule and a December win over Ridgeview. Ridgeview had defeated Hanford, another candidate for the top seed, though Hanford also had defeated Clovis.
As for Ridgeview, it's no surprise that the No. 3 team in Cal Hi Sports' state Division II rankings drew the top seed in the section playoffs. Garces is No. 2. If form holds, the Wolf Pack and Rams will meet for the D-II title at 6 p.m. on March 1.
Centennial's girls drew the No. 7 seed in Division I, with Bakersfield at No. 9. Independence is No. 5 in Division II. Tehachapi is the top local team in D-III; the Warriors are seeded third behind Selma and Hanford West, with Chavez No. 4, Shafter No. 6 and Golden Valley No. 7.
Taft is the No. 3 seed in Division IV, behind Lindsay and Mendota.
The girls basketball playoffs begin with the first round at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Quarterfinals are Thursday, with boys games running Wednesday and Friday.
On the boys side, SWYL champion Independence (28-1) drew the top seed in Division III, as expected. The Falcons open at home against No. 16 Visalia-Central Valley Christian on Wednesday and can run their record to 32-1 if they should win the championship. Independence has not played the No. 2 seed, Tulare-Mission Oak.
In Division I, Stockdale is the highest local team at No. 6. The first five seeds went to Fresno-Bullard, Fresno-Central, Clovis West, Fresno-Edison and Clovis North.
Bakersfield is the No. 7 seed and Liberty the No. 8. All three will have home games Wednesday: Stockdale vs. No. 11 Clovis-Buchanan, Bakersfield vs. No. 10 Tulare Union and Liberty vs. No. 9 Clovis.
In Division II, Garces drew the No. 2 seed behind Fresno-Sunnyside despite losing the Southeast Yosemite League race to East, which is No. 4.
The Rams beat East three of four head-to-head meetings during the season. Lemoore is No. 3.
South Yosemite League champion South is No. 5 in Division III, with Tehachapi No. 8, Mira Monte No. 9, Golden Valley No. 10 and South Sequoia League champion Shafter at No. 11.