The CIFSS’s new open division has created some excellent basketball games that resemble championship games in its old I-AA division or a regional final atmosphere. But with this new division comes some uncertainty as to which teams from the massive section will be able to move on to next week’s regionals since there will be plenty of teams placed back in their original CIF division. One significant casualty seems to be 30-1 Buckley. We attempt to make sense of it here.
One thing is certain and that is the CIF Southern Section’s new open division has created some excitement about the quality of games in a boys basketball section playoff. After the hoopla died down about the selections and seedings, the attention shifted focus to the intensity and quality of play.
In Saturday evening’s title game, No. 1 seed, state No. 1 and national No. 4 Mater Dei of Santa Ana will face upstart Chino Hills, which was seeded No. 7 and is now up to No. 4 in the state and No. 45 in the Student Sports FAB 50. In Friday’s consolation bracket final between No. 5 seed Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and No. 10 seed Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, the winner is guaranteed a berth in the SoCal regional. The other guaranteed berths are for the eight first round open winners.
Based on their resumes and the fact they were chosen for the open division in the first place, the CIFSS’s other seven teams are not guaranteed a berth but all should be included in the SoCal regional playoffs. There is no guarantee, but there is enough slots for those deserving teams. What the new open division means is less room for CIFSS semifinalists and basically no room for quarterfinalists, especially in Division I and Division IV. A scenario where a section quarterfinalist advances to a regional final, like Loyola of Los Angeles did last year, won’t happen this season.
First, let’s take a look at the regional format. The CIF Southern Section gets eight slots in the 16-team CIF Division I, II, III, and IV brackets. The section gets a maximum of four slots in the CIF SoCal Open Division, which is up to an eight-team bracket. The eight slots don’t have to be filled out, but you can take it to the bank there will be four CIFSS teams because it eases a log-jam in Division I and Division IV.
Here is the CIF state division the 16 CIFSS open division teams belong to: Seven in Division I (Mater Dei, Mayfair, J.W. North, Centennial, Loyola, Chino Hills, Etiwanda), three in Division II (St. John Bosco, Redondo Union, Compton), two in Division III (Chaminade, Cathedral) and four in Division IV (Cantwell Sacred Heart, Sierra Canyon, Gardena Serra, Bishop Montgomery).
Division I — This is where the log-jam really exists. With four slots dedicated to the open division, it makes sense that open semifinalist J.W. North would be placed in the open regional. It’s an eligible club as is semifinalist Redondo Union. Mater Dei will be in the open division and if Chino Hills requests to be placed in the open, it would guarantee all seven open teams in this division play in the regional tournament. If Chino Hills stays in Division I, the open teams should be Mater Dei, J.W. North, Redondo (from D2) and Etiwanda. If Chino Hills moves up, Etiwanda should then fall back to the D1 bracket.
The Chino Hills moving up scenario means four CIFSS open teams will be in the Division I regional, along with the four section finalists. If Redondo is placed in the open division and it makes sense if it is, then no semifinalist from the CIFSS D1-AA or D1-A bracket is going to move on to next week. The best bet is Millikan of Long Beach, which recorded a regular season win over open division foe Compton. Long Beach Poly is eligible for the open division, and if the Jackrabbits win the I-AA title and are chosen to move up they would simply swap with an eligible open team from this division. It’s hard to see Poly going to the open division instead of Etiwanda, however.
Division II — By beating Loyola in the CIFSS Open quarterfinals, Redondo is a strong bet to be in the SoCal Open Division field. The Sea Hawks are eligible as the 2013 D2 state champs. This leaves Compton and St. John Bosco bouncing back to the D2 field and means two D2 section semifinalists are not going to be moving on. To us, the best two semifinalists would be Foothill of Tustin (which has a head-to-head win over Tustin) and Tustin (which is the team that knocked out previous state-ranked Hart).
Division III — Neither Chaminade or Cathedral is going to the SoCal Open Division and both clubs should be seeded higher than the III-AA or III-A champ. That means just two semifinalists should be included for the SoCal D3 bracket, with one of those spots likely going to Santa Barbara.
Division IV — This is the division where some quality, state-ranked type teams were left in their original section bracket. We’ve been hearing rumblings that if Village Christian of Sun Valley is impressive in a IV-A final win over Windward of Los Angeles, it could potentially be under consideration for the open division. This doesn’t seem practical, especially if Chino Hills requests to move up to the open division. What’s going to happen is that Sierra Canyon, Bishop Montgomery, Cantwell Sacred Heart and Gardena Serra are going to be in the D4 SoCal bracket, which leaves Village Christian, Windward, Oaks Christian and JSerra to round out the list of eight. The unfortunate aspect of that is Buckley of Sherman Oaks at 30-1 would be done.