Plots thicken in section semifinals 

As the boys’ and girls’ sectional basketball playoffs enter their semifinal rounds today and Wednesday, 11 of The City’s teams are still alive and chasing championship dreams. Here’s a quick guide to a few key themes and intriguing plotlines to focus on:

» Can the underdogs survive? The biggest surprise of any of the remaining teams has to be the University girls, who two weeks ago were11-13 and seeded fifth out of six teams in the Bay Counties League West tournament. The Red Devils (17-13) have since won five straight games (including one-point decisions over BCL rival Urban in both the league semifinals and North Coast Section Division V quarterfinals) to advance to the NCS semifinals, where No. 11 University will travel to No. 2 Rincon Valley Christian of Santa Rosa Wednesday at 7:30. Seniors Eve King and Piper Tracy will have to continue to play big for the Red Devils to keep the glass slipper on.

The other big surprise is the Mission boys, who shocked International Studies Academy 84-74 in the first round of the San Francisco Section playoffs after losing to the Cobras 94-76 during the regular season. The Bears (14-11) now meet Lincoln on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Kezar Pavilion for a chance to reach Friday’s final.

» Will revenge have its day? Is the fourth time the charm? Both the St. Ignatius boys and girls are hoping to find out. Each team has lost to a city and West Catholic Athletic League rival three times this year (in the boys’ case, Riordan; in the girls’ case, Sacred Heart Cathedral), including once in overtime and once in the semifinals of the league tournament. Both are seeded second in the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs and must beat No. 3 Burlingame to earn an appearance in the final and what appears to be a likely date against their rival. The Crusaders and Irish are seeded first in the Division III boys’ and girls’ brackets, respectively.

» Can Gateway stun Branson? The No. 4 Gators (27-2) have continued their dominating play in the postseason, having won their two NCS Division V games by an average of 40 points. But next up is top-seeded and two-time defending NCS champion Branson (27-3), one of the state’s best. Wednesday’s semifinal is set for 6:30 p.m. at the College of Marin.

Kings of the mat: Different weight, same result for Galileo wrestler Sam Chue. The junior won the119-pound title in Saturday’s San Francisco Section All-City tournament after wrestling — and winning — at 103 as a freshman and sophomore. He was named the Outstanding Lightweight of the Tournament and now advances to this weekend’s state meet, which starts Friday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

Joining Chue will be Oustanding Middleweight Ernest Tong (Washington, 145), Outstanding Heavyweight Alex Denny (Galileo, 189) and the winners of the rest of the weight classes. For results of the section meet, go to www.cifsf.org. For state tournament pairings, go to www.cifstate.org.

Marshall softball out: The Marshall softball team will not compete in Academic Athletic Association play this season.

AAA softball began last week while baseball teams begin league play Wednesday.

melliser@examiner.com

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