The North Salinas High gym will likely be rocking tonight as the Viking girls basketball team takes to the court with aspirations of winning a possible state championship.
North Salinas welcomes Santa Rosa to town as both teams play in the first round of the Northern California regional tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
For North Salinas, it will try to keep the good times going. The Vikings are 25-2 and come into the tournament with the best winning percentage of the 14 teams in the bracket. However, the locals are the No. 8 seed, and the road to get to Sacramento is expected to be as tough as their last few matches.
Santa Rosa comes into the game with a 27-4 record. Tonight will be the team’s first game in a week. It was ousted in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division I tournament by eventual runner-up Berkeley, 56-45.
Unlike the Central Coast Section, where only the two finalists advance to the Northern California tournament, four teams from the North Coast Section move on.
And the top half of the Northern California bracket is filled with NCS participants.
Tonight’s winner will advance to play top-seeded Deer Valley, which won the NCS championship, 57-47, over Berkeley on Saturday.
Berkeley is the No. 4 seed in the Northern California tournament.
So it is very possible that the Vikings could deal with nothing but NCS opponents all the way to the regional finals on March 22 in Sacramento.
But first, they must get through the Panthers, who are back in the premiere event for the first time in three years.
Santa Rosa has had its hands full throughout this season. Its four losses have come against teams that are all playing in a Northern California regional tournament.
The Panthers went 13-1 in the North Bay League, finishing as regular season co-champions with Cardinal Newman. In the league postseason tournament final, Cardinal Newman got the best of the Panthers, winning 62-53.
Three girls are leading the way on the scoreboard.
Morgan Bertsch, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, is averaging 17.1 points a game, while junior forward Devin Murray is averaging 15.1 points a game. Kylie Oden is putting in 10.6 points a contest.
Santa Rosa was 24-1 in its first 25 games, losing only to a team from outside its area. That’s something similar to North Salinas’ season so far, where its only two losses have come at the hands of Scotts Valley and Pittsburg.
Tonight’s visitors have averaged 63.4 points a game while allowing 42.6 points a game.
This is the third time in five years Santa Rosa has at least 20 wins, and its 27-4 record is easily the best record of the past five seasons.
The last time Santa Rosa was in the Northern California postseason, it suffered a nail-biting exit, 84-83, against El Camino.
The farthest south Santa Rosa has traveled this season has been 70 minutes to Pacifica for a weekend tournament at Terra Nova High.
They’ll be traveling nearly three hours south to Salinas for tonight’s game.
North Salinas will try to win its 16th consecutive home game dating back to the 2012-13 season. The Vikings are 9-0 this season at home.