Long Beach Poly falls to Etiwanda on Tuesday to shake up pecking order but probably does nothing to change open division possibilities. We go through every division after Tuesday games and can offer more detailed explanations regarding open division.
By Mark Tennis
Contributing: Ronnie Flores, Paul Muyskens
The jury is out on whether the new CIF open division state basketball tournaments will be a success or not, but based on all the confusion from many in the media and many coaches it’s been an absolute failure on the CIF’s part to sell the concept and clear up poorly written criteria.
We’ll find out Sunday which teams will be in the new open divisions in the north and in the south (up to eight in each region) and then can begin to get pumped up about potential matchups, especially in Northern California where powerhouse programs like Salesian of Richmond, Sheldon of Sacramento, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose will all be in the same bracket. In the south, since the CIF Southern Section has its own open division-type playoff in the name of its Division I-AA bracket, there’s a good chance the new open division will simply come down to rematches of those teams.
One such rematch could be Etiwanda vs. Long Beach Poly. The two met on Tuesday night at Long Beach Poly in what ended up an overtime thriller and Etiwanda won 59-55. The Eagles knocked off our season-long No. 1 ranked team in the state and will now play No. 2 Mater Dei in Saturday’s finals. The Monarchs downed Inglewood at home 65-48 in other semifinal.
Jordan McLaughlin made two free throws with 10 seconds left in overtime to give No. 5 Etiwanda a 57-55 lead. Poly’s attempt for a game-tying or game-winning basket was then ruined when Delewis Johnson of the Eagles was fouled after Poly star Roschon Prince lost control of the ball. Johnson added two more throws with three seconds left. Prince, who had earlier sent the game into overtime on a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in regulation, finished with a game-high 26 points. McLaughlin led the Eagles with 22.
Both Etiwanda and Mater Dei are eligible to be taken up to the new open division as is Long Beach Poly. Inglewood, which won a CIFSS title in Division II last year, is eligible as well but the fourth team from the section going to the open division (there is a mandated limit of four from any one section) likely will be either Pacific Hills of Los Angeles or Serra of Gardena. Another unknown at this point is which teams, if any, will petition or ask to be put into the open division. We don’t think any will that are below top 10 overall in the state, but you never know.
The most confusing element of the listed criteria for teams being eligible or not for the open division surrounds participation in the regional playoffs. In the actual written criteria it states that teams are eligible if they qualify for the regional “championships” in three of the last four seasons, which to many, including us, meant playing in a regional championship game. The correct interpretation of this criteria, however, is that teams are eligible if they simply qualify for the regional playoffs. Even getting into one regional playoff game (in any division) is enough.
In the future, for something as important as a brand new playoff concept, let’s hope the CIF provides more than just one-sentence lists of criteria and then hoping people will find the criteria by searching its web site. Examples might help tremendously.
All teams have been ranked below according to their CIF divisions, but some will obviously be pulled up into the new CIF Open Division for the Northern California and Southern California regional playoffs. We have indicated which teams in which divisions are eligible for the Open Division so readers can then visualize which non-Open Division teams may end up battling it out for the various CIF divisional state titles.
(After results of Tuesday, Feb. 26 and please note that these rankings below will not match the overall top 20 this week, which were written and posted before Tuesday’s big games)
1. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 30-1
2. (4) Etiwanda 26-2
3. (3) Sheldon (Sacramento) 23-5
4. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 27-3
5. (6) Bullard (Fresno) 25-2
6. (8) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 28-2
7. (9) Westchester (Los Angeles) 27-6
8. (10) De La Salle (Concord) 24-3
9. (12) Deer Valley (Antioch) 22-5
10. (7) Loyola (Los Angeles) 22-7
11. (NR) Santa Monica 24-6
12. (13) San Leandro 22-5
13. (14) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 23-5
14. (NR) Inglewood 19-10
15. (NR) Rancho Cucamonga 24-5
Dropped Out: Previous No. 5 Centennial (Corona), No. 11 Mission Viejo, No. 15 West Ranch (Valencia).
Eligible for Open Division: Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Etiwanda, Sheldon, Loyola, Bullard, De La Salle, El Camino Real, Westchester. It is confirmed from the CIF, by the way, that a team is eligible for the Open Division if it wins a section title in a different division from the year before.
Teams on the Bubble: Bellarmine (San Jose) 17-9, Centennial (Corona) 26-3, Central (Fresno) 20-7, El Toro (Lake Forest) 27-5, Heritage (Brentwood) 21-7, Lutheran (Orange) 18-10, Mission Hills (San Marcos) 25-4, Mission Viejo 26-4, Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 23-6, Silverado (Victorville) 23-6.
Notes & Highlights: Etiwanda’s win over Poly also is enough to pop the Eagles past Sheldon in this week’s rankings. Of their two losses to Corona Centennial and Rancho Cucamonga, both are teams they’ve also beaten. Poly also is better than any teams Sheldon has beaten on its resume. We like Santa Monica as the highest-ranked newcomer because the Vikings have two wins over Inglewood and are playing El Toro in the CIFSS Division I-A final.
1. (1) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 23-5
2. (2) Serra (San Mateo) 24-4
3. (3) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 27-4
4. (4) J.W. North (Riverside) 27-3
5. (5) Redondo (Redondo Beach) 22-8
6. (6) Newark Memorial (Newark) 21-7
7. (7) Sacramento 23-6
8. (8) Westlake (Westlake Village) 26-4
9. (9) Hoover (San Diego) 28-5
10. (NR) Dublin 23-5
Dropped Out: Previous No. 10 El Camino (South San Francisco).
Eligible for Open Division: Archbishop Mitty, San Mateo Serra, La Costa Canyon, Newark Memorial, Sacramento, San Diego Hoover.
Teams on the Bubble: Arroyo Grande 22-9, El Camino (South San Francisco) 22-7, Kennedy (Granada Hills) 27-6, Montgomery (Santa Rosa) 23-7, Morse (San Diego) 22-8, San Ysidro 23-8, San Marcos 25-5, Thousand Oaks 24-7, Villa Park 24-6, Willow Glen (San Jose) 22-6.
Notes & Highlights: Unlike Division I, this week’s rankings in Division II are much more calm. There weren’t any changes until the 10th position. One of the most interesting choices to watch for during Sunday’s selection meeting is if Serra of San Mateo is moved up into the open division. The Padres do meet the criteria to get into the open division due to being in the NorCal regional playoffs in three of the last four years (including this season). They’d go up for certain if they were to win the CCS Open Division title on Saturday. It wouldn’t be as certain if Archbishop Mitty won in that game. If Serra goes, one team that maybe wouldn’t is Newark Memorial.
1. (1) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 24-3
2. (2) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 23-6
3. (3) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 26-3
4. (4) St. Augustine (San Diego) 23-4
5. (5) Tustin 29-2
6. (6) Modesto Christian 27-3
7. (7) Independence (Bakersfield) 30-1
8. (NR) Chaminade (West Hills) 24-6
9. (NR) Royal (Simi Valley) 23-7
10. (NR) El Cerrito 21-9
Dropped Out: Previous No. 8 Oak Park (Agoura Hills), No. 9 Leuzinger (Lawndale), No. 10 Compton.
Eligible for Open Division: Bishop O’Dowd, Cathedral Catholic, Modesto Christian, Independence (Bakersfield), Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco).
Teams on the Bubble: Calabasas 23-6, Compton 20-10, Damien (La Verne) 24-6, Drake (San Anselmo) 24-5, Enterprise (Redding) 22-3, Hart (Newhall) 25-3*, Leuzinger (Lawndale) 22-8, Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 27-4, Ocean View (Huntington Beach) 23-7, Poly (Sun Valley) 19-7, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 17-10, Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 16-14, Sierra (Manteca) 26-4, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 16-10, West (Torrance) 18-11. (*Season complete.)
Notes & Highlights: No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd seems like a lock to be in the open division in the north while No. 2 St. John Bosco could only be in the open division in the south by request. Cathedral Catholic is yet one more team we’ve found that makes it on the open division criteria based on the three regional playoff appearances in the last four years (with this year counting as a fourth year). Independence of Bakersfield is one team that is eligible but has never aspired to be on the same level as a Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly or Westchester. Despite its 30-1 record, hopefully the section commissioners will look at previous regional playoff results to guide them about pulling up teams like Independence into the open division. Two years ago, the Falcons lost in the first round of the regional playoffs in Division III by 30 points to Price of Los Angeles. They made it last year for one game as well and this year would make it three straight appearances (and therefore open eligible). Putting a team like Indepedence in the eighth spot of the open division south bracket would be a crying shame. A bye for that No. 1 seed makes a ton more sense.
1. (2) Salesian (Richmond) 28-3
2. (1) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 29-1
3. (3) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 27-3
4. (5) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 23-4
5. (10) Lutheran (La Verne) 25-6
6. (6) Serra (Gardena) 24-6
7. (8) Army-Navy (Carlsbad) 25-4
8. (9) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 28-2
9. (4) Windward (Los Angeles) 20-9
10. (NR) Crespi (Encino) 22-9
Dropped Out: Previous No. 7 Price (Los Angeles).
Eligible for Open Division: Salesian, Pacific Hills, Lutheran (La Verne), Gardena Serra, Price.
Teams on the Bubble: Arcata 24-6, Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 18-9, Colfax 24-5, Half Moon Bay 22-6, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 18-11, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 17-9, Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 24-5, Price (Los Angeles) 25-4, Riverbank 24-3, St. Joseph (Santa Maria) 22-8.
Notes & Highlights: Salesian moves up to No. 1 in this division and also is now up to No. 3 overall in the state after Bishop Montgomery’s loss to La Verne Lutheran last weekend. The Pride seem like a lock for the NorCal open division, though, so they won’t be defending their state title in this division. The winner of the CIFSS Division IV-AA final between La Verne Lutheran and Gardena Serra also may get some serious consideration to be the fourth CIFSS open division team. That spot also could go to Pacific Hills if it beats Brentwood in the CIFSS Division IV-A final. Brentwood is not eligible for the open division, however, so if it wins the Division IV-AA winner it may become a lock, too.
1. (8) Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) 22-7
2. (2) St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 19-11
3. (4) Central Catholic (Modesto) 25-3
4. (NR) Buckley (Sherman Oaks) 23-6
5. (1) Village Christian (Sun Valley) 25-3
6. (6) Capital Christian (Sacramento) 22-4
7. (7) Brookside Christian (Stockton) 26-1
8. (3) Flintridge Prep (La Canada) 22-6
9. (9) Rolling Hills Prep (San Pedro) 21-8
10. (10) Rock Academy (San Diego) 20-7
Dropped Out: Previous No. 5 Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach).
Eligible for Open Division: Village Christian, St. Joseph Notre Dame (though it’s unlikely that either would get chosen for that much of a jump in competition)
Teams on the Bubble: Branson (Ross) 19-11, Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 18-13, Head-Royce (Oakland) 24-4, Horizon Christian (San Diego) 16-11, Modoc (Alturas) 22-4, Ripon Christian 23-4, Stuart Hall (San Francisco) 19-10, View Park (Los Angeles) 21-13.
Notes & Highlights: This was a tough call at the top after season-long leader and defending state champ Village Christian was upset by Buckley of Sherman Oaks 55-52 in last week’s CIFSS Division V-AA semifinals. Mission Prep got the nod because its win over previous No. 3 Flintridge Prep avenged an earlier loss and Flintridge Prep has a win over Buckley. All of the losses by the Royals other than the one to Flintridge also have come to much bigger schools. Many of St. Joseph’s losses also are to higher-ranked teams, but the Pilots as of yet don’t have a win over a team as strong as Village Christian.
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