Heritage High girls basketball coach Dan Swan has always been a half-court offense, half-court defense type of guy.

But the Patriots' ability to play at a fast pace this season has caused Swan to rethink his tendencies, and the result has spelled success for Heritage.

The Patriots' opportunistic style in the open court has led them to a 16-4 record entering this week, including a 55-36 victory over Northern California power Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills on Saturday at the Campolindo Shootout at Bentley School in Lafayette.

The win avenged a California Interscholastic Federation Division I Northern regional quarterfinal loss to the Trojans last season.

"You can't pull back on the reins when you have horses that can go. Sometimes you have to adapt to your team," said Swan, who is in his second season at Heritage after he coached the Northgate boys team from 1997-2007. "We are opportunistic. When we have numbers, we will take advantage of that.

"When we get steals, it's go time."

The Patriots used a zone defense -- a change in Swan's philosophy -- on Saturday, as Oak Ridge scored just 13 points in the second half.

"Last year, we manned them the whole game and they got back-door layups," Swan said. "Our defense (on Saturday) was better than I've seen it."

The Patriots have five players who average seven to 10 points a game, led by seniors Sabrina Engelstad, a Saint Mary's College signee, and Lexi Campbell.

Heritage's three-guard tandem of Campbell, Erin Asher and Sydney Berry have been instrumental in creating opponent's turnovers and capitalizing on them.

Boys soccer

It's not unusual to see Newark Memorial and James Logan floating around the top of the Mission Valley Athletic League standings.

But Kennedy-Fremont and Washington have also enjoyed solid seasons and are looking to finish in the top half of the MVAL and grab a spot in the North Coast Section playoffs, which begin Feb. 13.

The second-place Titans entered this week just five points behind Newark Memorial with four league games left. With their 9-5-1 overall record and 6-3-1 mark in the MVAL, they have all but assured themselves a spot in the NCS Division II playoffs.

"They are very exited to be so close to making NCS," Kennedy coach Rodrigo Menodza said of his team. "But I just have to keep them grounded and humbled. And just keep doing all the good things and forget all the bad things."

The Huskies are sixth in the league with 11 points but are just two points out of being in sole possession of fourth place. Washington, a Division I team, needs to be .500 against its last three Division I opponents -- James Logan, Newark Memorial and Irvington -- to qualify for the Division I field. Washington is 3-3-7 against Division I teams and has not been to the section playoffs since 2008.

"My boys are very excited," Washington coach Ruben Raygoza said. "They are aware that it's been several years since our last showing in NCS. I continually remind them of the possibility for this year, and as this season has progressed, they themselves can see it. That's given them the motivation to push themselves even more when training and even harder during games."

-- Matt Smith, correspondent