COLUMBIA BASKETBALL DENIED HOME PLAYOFF GAME

February 25, 2003 12:00 am

By DAN GOLDMAN

In what has become an early spring tradition, the Columbia College basketball team once again got the short end of the seeding stick when the Northern California playoff bracket was released yesterday.

Instead of getting a first-round playoff game at Oak Pavilion, the No. 19-seeded Claim Jumpers (19-12, 9-5 Central Valley Conference) will visit the 14th-seeded American River College Beavers of Sacramento (16-15, 6-4 Bay Valley East) for a 7 p.m. tipoff Friday.

This despite the fact that Columbia won more overall games, won more conference games and won the head-to-head criteria matchup used to determine seedings with American River.

"Well, we're going to have to wins games no matter where we are," Columbia coach Andy Vasher said. "I figured that's who we'd play. I just figured it would be here instead of there."

The top 16 teams in the 32-team NorCal field host first-round playoff games.

The CVC, as a whole, garnered little respect from the seeding committee this year. Although all eight league teams made the postseason, seedings left a lot to be desired from the CVC standpoint.

CVC champion and No. 1-ranked Fresno (33-1, 13-1) could not be denied the top seed, but CVC runner-up College of the Sequoias (18-11, 11-3) barely rated a home game, falling all the way to No. 15 after losing its regular-season finale to Merced on Saturday.

The Columbia-American River winner will play Wednesday, March 5, against either No. 3 Diablo Valley of Pleasant Hill (31-2) or No. 3 Porterville (11-21).

In addition to Columbia, other CVC teams in first-round action on Friday will be No. 15 COS (18-11) vs. No. 18 Shasta (14-16); No. 20 Modesto (15-17, 7-7) at No. 13 Yuba (21-10); No. 21 Reedley (13-18, 5-9) at No. 12 Skyline (18-14); and No. 23 Merced (14-16, 5-9) at No. 10 Chabot (26-5).

On Saturday, No. 1 Fresno (33-1, 13-1) vs. No. 32 Alameda (12-18); Porterville at Diablo Valley; and No. 31 West Hills (10-19, 4-10) at No. 2 Santa Rosa (25-6).