One of the plot lines in the Central Section Division II girls basketball playoff bracket is going exactly as planned -- a showdown between the Redwood Rangers and the Garces Rams for a spot in next week's championship game at Selland Arena.
The Rangers are hoping that this year's playoff story is a repeat of what happened in 2012 when the two teams met with the same coveted prize on the line.
Redwood earned a spot in the semifinals with a 47-38 win over the sixth-seeded Yosemite Badgers Thursday night at Redwood High School.
No. 3 Redwood (22-5) will face No. 2 Garces (26-2) on Tuesday in Bakersfield. Game time is 7 p.m.
Garces defeated No. 7 Tulare Western 60-41 on Thursday. The Rangers and Rams met Nov. 27 in Bakersfield with Garces winning 62-48.
"We're in the situation that we wanted to be in -- win one game to get to Valley," Redwood coach Jason Black said.
Tuesday's Redwood-Garces winner will advance to the Division II title game on March 1 at Selland Arena in Fresno.
Defeating the Rams in Bakersfield is not foreign to the Rangers. Redwood defeated Garces in last year's Division II semifinals, 63-53, to advance to Selland Arena for the third time since the Central Section Championships started to be held there in 2005.
But while Black said the Rangers are exactly where they want to be at this point in the season, there is an obvious concern.
The key question should be: Are the Rangers playing like they want to be playing at this point in the season?
Going into last year's semifinal meeting against Garces, Redwood averaged 64 points in its three previous games while giving up just 27.3 points per game.
Redwood has maintained that high level of defensive play this season -- surrendering an average of just 28.3 points per game over its last three contests -- but the offensive production has suffered a noticeable drop, averaging 50 points per game during this latest three-game stretch.
"We have to improve our shooting," Black said. "We have to hit the 3-ball if we're going to go to Valley. We must have better 3-point shooting."
Redwood entered Thursday's game as the unofficial leader in the Central Section in 3-point shooting, averaging 6.3 treys per game. The Rangers were held to three successful 3-point attempts against Yosemite (16-10) and none over the final two quarters.
The shooting woes weren't limited to beyond the 3-point arc.
Redwood was 16-of-55 (29.1 percent) from the floor.
Corissa Turley led Redwood with 18 points. Taylor Carter had eight points, and Jordan Surfus added seven points.
Yosemite was up 10-9 at the end of the first quarter, but the Rangers took the lead for good early in the second quarter by knocking down five of their first six shots in the period. Redwood owned a 20-13 lead with 5:12 left in the second quarter.
Turley had six points over a 75-second span to highlight the Rangers' spurt to begin the second quarter.
The Rangers' shooting fortunes soured for the rest of the first half, but they still managed to hold a 23-14 halftime lead.
Yosemite would get no closer than seven points of Redwood at any point in the second half. Redwood's largest lead was 30-17 midway in the third quarter.