For Mission boys, it's a long trip to Cottonwood 

The home page of the official Web site of Cottonwood describes the town’s historic Front Street as "wide enough for a 12-horse team or a herd of cattle."

It promises to be a long way from Mission High School, both literally and figuratively.

The Mission boys’ basketball team drew the No. 9 seed in the NorCal Division III playoffs and will drive 3½ hours northeast to play No. 8 West Valley of Cottonwood tonight at 7. The winner earns a game at top-seeded St. Ignatius Thursday at 7 p.m.

"None of us are familiar with the [Cottonwood] area," Bears coach Judson Steele said with a laugh. "But I think it’s going to be a great team bonding thing for us. I’m telling the kids it’s like college teams who go on rides like this allthe time."

Mission (15-12) and Eagles are coming off tough overtime losses, as the Bears fell 72-69 to Lowell in the San Francisco Section final and West Valley lost to Enterprise of Redding 51-48 in the Northern Section championship game.

Mission will start no seniors and will continue to try to push the pace behind the energetic backcourt play of sophomore Demaree Hampton and junior Harry Howard.

West Valley (23-4) won the Northern League with a perfect 10-0 record this season and is led by 6-foot-4 junior forward Garhett Parent, who is averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

NorCal notes: Healthy bodies are a must if the No. 4 Lowell boys are to win a quarterfinal game against fifth-seeded De La Salle at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Kezar Pavilion and it appears the Cardinals (27-4) are on their way to fitness. Stars Travis Hom (cramps), Arthur Jones (groin strain, contusion on right index finger) and Jordan Wong (cramps) all missed time during Friday’s overtime win over Mission, but according to Lowell coach Robert Ray, all will likely be ready to play in the NorCal quarterfinals. Jones has also been playing with a cracked bone in his right wrist for the second half of the season, Ray said.

» The St. Ignatius boys proved the importance of a strong finish in earning the top seed in Division III. The Wildcats (23-7) had lost to Riordan three times in the regular season, but topped the Crusaders 51-48 in Saturday’s Central Coast Section Division III title game. Sixth-seeded Riordan (28-4) now must travel to play Sac-Joaquin Section champion Sacramento (25-5), which knocked the Crusaders out of NorCals a season ago.

» The Washington girls are hoping for a bounce-back performance tonight when it plays an outbracket game at Carlmont at 7. The No. 10 Eagles (15-15) lost to Lowell 55-30 in the San Francisco Section title game and face the seventh-seeded and CentralCoast Section Division I champion Scots (20-10).

Shrinking softball field: The Balboa softball team has dropped from Academic Athletic Association play this season after one game, a 15-0 loss to Galileo. The league is now down to nine teams, with Marshall dropping last week.

melliser@examiner.com

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