Colfax High Falcons ready for Division IV challenge

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If the Colfax Falcons’ boys basketball team was looking to punctuate its Pioneer Valley League championship with a regular-season ending win at Placer last Thursday — not to mention head into this week’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a head of steam - consider it mission accomplished. Putting a exclamation point on a do-or-die week where the Falcons took down their two closest PVL competitors – both ranked among the top ten of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Div. III power ratings - Colfax was looking to use its respective wins over Lincoln and a 71-60 verdict at Placer last week to take a ton of momentum with them into the post season. As anticipated, when the CIF released its tournament pairings on Sunday, the Falcons emerged as the No.1 seed for the 16-team Div. IV playoffs which got underway last night. The Falcons were slated to entertain No. 16 Ripon, a team with a record of 13-14 from the Trans Valley League. If form held true and the Falcons emerged victorious on Wednesday, Colfax would be home again on Friday night for a quarter-final game entertaining the winner of last night’s game between No. 8 Cosumnes Oaks and No. 9 Linden. Game time will be at 7 p.m. Either way — if the Falcons are still alive on Friday — the locals can expect a tough second round match-up. Cosumnes Oaks is a first-year varsity school with all juniors and sophomores which next season because of an increase in enrollment will be either Div. III or Div. II. The Wolfpack finished third in the tough Capital Valley Conference this season and owns a win over perennial Div. III power Foothill. Linden, meanwhile, is playing well right now. The Lions own a win over No. 4 seed Amador a week ago and are led by 6-7 230-pound pivot Aaron Judge who is averaging 18 points a game and is scoring at a 24.0 per tilt clip over his last four outings. Friday’s four-quarter-final round survivors will advance next Wednesday to Tokay High in Lodi for semi-final games. All four teams which reach Tokay will also qualify for the newly expanded NorCal Regional Tournament. In last week’s win at Placer, Colfax had four players reaching double digits, and the Falcons’ defense locked up one of Placer’s scoring leaders. Avenging their lone PVL loss of the season, the Falcons grabbed the lead in the game near the end of the first quarter and didn’t relinquish it the rest of the way in running its season record to 23-4. “We wanted to come in and use this game as a positive step towards the playoffs,” said Colfax coach Mike O’Connell whose team had wrapped up the outright PVL title on Wednesday via its 52-35 win over Lincoln. The Falcons, despite missing four free tosses in a row in the pivotal fourth quarter, were still a decent 23 of 34 from the charity stripe in the contest. Over the final eight minutes, the Falcons converted 12 of 17 free tosses including three each from Joey Jergo and Ryan Salmonson. Both Salmonson and Witt finished with 19 points apiece while Greer added 15 and helped limit Placer scoring leader Michael Jensen to just two shot attempts from the floor and one point after the Placer guard had torched the Falcons for 26 markers in the two teams’ first meeting last month.