Bubble teams and more complete writeups have been added as we take a deeper look at the state’s best girls teams. Windward vs. Mater Dei as a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown can still happen, but it wouldn’t be a matchup of two unbeaten teams.
By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis
No where is the difference in criteria for awarding seedings versus ranking teams more evident than in the CIF SoCal Regional Open and Division I fields in girls basketball.
Windward was awarded the No. 1 seed in the Open Division, but as the winner of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA title, it wasn’t a given the Wildcats would get the top seed since the CIFSS Division I-AA winner plays such a difficult schedule.
Had the Wildcats not had a comfortable win over No. 3 Bishop O’Dowd, even a 30-0 record may not have been enough. Neither Santiago (the CIFSS D1AA champ) or Windward played in the top division of the Nike TOC and while Windward won in its division, Santiago lost in the first round of its division to a 10-loss Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas team that has a loss to a Miramonte team just crushed by O’Dowd.
That previous scenario is exactly why Santiago can’t be ranked ahead of Mater Dei or Bishop O’Dowd, but can be seeded in the south ahead of Mater Dei because of where the Sharks finished in the I-AA playoffs.
Rankings can come down to a single game, but they usually don’t. In the overall body of work with respect to where Mater Dei should be ranked, a single loss to Etiwanda during a season of playing nationally-ranked teams, in a game that by all rights should not have been on the road, does not cancel out the fact Mater Dei took care of business against the best teams in the country in the top division of the Nike TOC.
“I agree Mater Dei should definitely still be No. 2 in the state,” said Maxpreps senior writer and columnist Mitch Stephens.
“The semis have been on a neutral site in the past and that’s the way I was brought up since 1986 when I started coaching,” remarked Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan with respect to having to go to Etiwanda for a I-AA semifinal contest.
“Seedings are seedings and rankings are rankings, and I appreciate how you feel and I’m going to tell the girls so it will bolster their confidence,” continued Kiernan.
With respect to the six-team Open Division southern field, Kiernan had this to say: “I can see why they went to six teams, but I don’t want to wait until Friday to play. I feel bad for Windward since they have almost a two-week wait before they play next week.”
Another situation where the seedings are more based on playoffs finishes is found in the SoCal Division I bracket. Because Long Beach Poly went out in the quarterfinals to Etiwanda (ironically the same round Etiwanda went out to Long Beach Poly in 2012 and 2011, which is why the Eagles were ineligible to be taken for the CIF open division), the Jackrabbits dropped way down to a No. 9 seed, despite their body of work allowing them to stay at No. 9 in the state.
The Jackrabbits’ reward for being brought back to the playoffs is an almost assured date with top-seeded Etiwanda in what will be that team’s regional opener. Poly’s seeding also conveniently punishes Etiwanda for deciding not to petition up to the Open Division by making the Eagles beat Poly again right away, a decision that helped force the commissioners to go to a six-team bracket.
“I understand why we were seeded that low, but we’re just happy to be playing. We’ll be ready for them (Etiwanda),” said Poly coach Carl Buggs.
Here are this week’s rankings (after all section championship games played Saturday, March 2; previous ranking in parentheses)
1. (2) Windward (Los Angeles) 30-0
We would have been very surprised had the Wildcats not been awarded the top seed in the Southern Regional Open Division. We’ll be even more surprised if somehow they’re not in the March 16 regional title game. No one in the state has been able to stop junior Kris Simon in the paint or Jordin Canada from penetrating, plus USC-bound Courtney Jaco comes into the game with 134 three-pointers on the season, the second-most ever in CIF Southern Section history behind the 138 of Kari Korver (Valley Christian of Cerritos in 2011). It’s a number that already gets her a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book.
2. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 28-1
With the loss to Etiwanda, it might not be the much anticipated national No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup on March 16 in Ontario, but it could still be No. 1 versus No. 2 in the state and what really still amounts to the real Open Division state championship — if the Monarchs can get past Stockdale and Santiago and face Windward for the right to come to Sacramento.
3. (3) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 26-3
Everyone has the Dragons ticketed for Sleep Train Arena is Sacramento on March 23, but nothing is a lock. Still, the way the girls have played since the 15-point loss to Windward has been impressive. It’s looking like they’re going to extend the 20-game winning streak to 23 before heading to the state capital.
4. (6) Santiago (Corona) 29-2
If Santiago can get past Mater Dei, it will prove these rankings are wrong for not moving them up higher.
5. (9) Etiwanda 28-3
We stayed on coach Anders Anderson about moving up to the Open Division, but in the end he did what he said he would do originally, not push his young team too far, too fast. Etiwanda can still move up in the rankings, and although it would mean all four teams above them losing, the Eagles can still conceivably end up No. 1 if they win a Division I state championship.
6. (4) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 28-2
As they should have been, the Rams were awarded the No. 2 seed in the NorCal Open bracket and if everything holds true to form they would meet the team that beat them by 21 points on the road last month. The only advantage St. Mary’s might have is the game will be in Sacramento, meaning the Stockton team’s faithful will turn out in bigger numbers.
7. (5) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 29-4
Like Stockton St. Mary’s, the Panthers drop two spots despite winning a section title. They fell to the No. 4 seed behind Carondelet in the north’s open bracket due to a head-to-head loss, but since then their body of work and the competition they’ve played is better then Carondelet. As a result, they’ve remained ahead of Carondelet in these rankings, particularly after Carondelet lost to CIFNCS Division I champion and Northern Regional D1 top-seed Monte Vista of Danville.
8. (7) Troy (Fullerton) 25-4
The Warriors got pretty much what was expected from the seeding committee, a No. 5 seed and a first-round date with a section champion (No. 4 seed La Jolla Country Day) on the road. This is a game Troy can certainly win, though, and that would earn them a date with Windward.
9. (10) Long Beach Poly 25-5
When Coach Buggs said last week that a rematch with Etiwanda was, “exactly what we’re hoping for,” he probably didn’t want it quite so early. Still, the Jackrabbits got their season extended and open on the road at No. 8 seed and L.A. City Section runner-up Fairfax of Los Angeles.
10. (8) Miramonte (Orinda) 27-2
The Mats’ resume was just too strong for them not to be taken in the NorCal Open Division, making them the most severe casualty of this year’s selection system. It also knocked them down to a No. 7 seed, since they weren’t a section winner. Winning a section title trumps out the fact the Mats’ only losses are to the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked teams in the state and they also beat a team that beat Santiago.
11. (11) Chaminade (West Hills) 27-3
It’s looking like a showdown with arch-rival and No. 13 Alemany for the SoCal Division III title. ‘Nade received the No. 2 seed behind Alemany with whom it split in league play, although we have Chaminade higher in the rankings due to an overall better body of work, including the Platinum Division title at the West Coast Jamboree.
12. (12) Carondelet (Concord) 25-3
The Cougars are in deep without much height in the NorCal Open Division as the No. 3 seed. They still had more than enough firepower to win second straight NCS D2 title and fifth NCS crown in the last six years.
13. (14) Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 27-5
The Warriors’ girls were awarded the top seed in the SoCal Division III bracket despite five losses. A loss by No. 2 seed Chaminade to Oaks Christian, plus the fact Alemany won the CIFSS Division III-AA title and Chaminade won the III-A division were the deciding factors.
14. (13) Salesian (Richmond) 26-6
The Pride were NorCal’s biggest beneficiary of the selection system and were passed over for the Open division despite being eligible. The result is they are the highest ranked team competing for a Division IV state championship.
15. (15) Millikan (Long Beach) 26-4
Don’t be surprised if the No. 14 seed in the SoCal Division I bracket makes it all the way to the title game. The Rams have beaten teams way better than anyone on the bottom half of the bracket, including the No. 3 seed and CIF Central Section Division I champion Clovis West of Fresno. Those teams meet in the first round.
16. (17) Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 26-3
Ridgeview was also a beneficiary of the selection system since the commissioners left them and No. 19 Lynwood out of the Open Division despite both being eligible to be taken up. That leaves those two to slug it out as No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the SoCal Division II bracket. If both make it to the regional title game, it should be a doozy, and more than likely the real Division II state championship game.
17. (16) Serra (Gardena) 25-6
The Cavaliers are the class of the SoCal Division IV bracket, but JSerra is on their side at No. 4 and St. Bernard is on the other side at No. 6. To ticket themselves for Sacramento, Serra will probably have to beat one or both of them.
18. (18) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 24-6
As winners of the CIFCCS Open Division, the Monarchs were awarded the No. 6 seed in the NorCal Open bracket. For some reason, Mitty is behind a Sacramento team with a similar body of work and a Dragons team it beat by 14 points on a neutral court at St. Mary’s of Stockton.
19. (NR) Lynwood 24-5
The Lady Knights are back in the mix to win a fourth state title for coach Ellis Barfield.
20. (NR) Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 20-9
Veteran coach Gail Hale has her girls as the No. 2 seed in the SoCal Division I bracket after the Cougars defeated Bishop Amat of La Puente for the CIFSS Division I-A title. They beat out CIFCS Division I winner Clovis West of Fresno for the final spot in these rankings based on a head-to-head win.
Teams That Dropped out: Previous No. 19 Hanford, No. 20 Heritage (Brentwood).
Teams on the Bubble: Berkeley 18-11, Bishop Amat (La Puente) 23-9, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 22-8, Bishop’s (La Jolla) 19-12, Bonita (La Verne) 25-6, Brookside Christian (Stockton) 26-4, Centennial (Corona) 24-5, Clovis West (Fresno) 23-5, Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto) 21-8, Enterprise (Redding) 27-1, Florin (Sacramento) 22-9, Hanford 23-5, Heritage (Brentwood) 24-5, Horizon (San Diego) 23-7, J.W. North (Riverside) 22-5, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 23-7, Kennedy (Sacramento) 24-6, Keppel (Alhambra) 26-5, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 29-2, La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 17-11, La Costa Canyon 28-2, Lynbrook (San Jose) 22-5, McClymonds (Oakland) 25-3, McNair (Stockton) 26-4, Monte Vista (Danville) 24-6, Narbonne (Harbor City) 23-8, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 24-4*, Oakland Tech (Oakland) 21-6, Orange Lutheran (Orange) 24-6, Sacramento 27-4, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 22-6, St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 25-8, St. Francis (Mountain View) 21-8, Stockdale (Bakersfield) 24-5, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 25-6, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 23-4
(*not including forfeits)
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