After all of Saturday’s CIF section basketball championships are in the books throughout the state, we break down the teams that should be chosen on Sunday for the regional playoffs.
For special updated State Top 20 rankings (boys & girls), CLICK HERE.
For CIF regional playoff picks for boys teams, CLICK HERE.
FINALLY, IF YOU ARE NOT ONE OF OUR 1,000 MEMBERS, GET YOUR GOLD CLUB VIP SUBSCRIPTION TO CALHISPORTS.COM TODAY. IT’S PREP CONTENT YOU JUST CAN’T GET ANYWHERE ELSE. FOR DETAILS, CLICK HERE.
Note: Criteria that the CIF selection committees will use to choose teams for the Open Division in both north and south include: 1. Need to have been a section champion last year; OR 2. Need to have been in the regional playoffs three of the last four years (including this season); OR 3. Need to have been a regional finalist last season; OR 4. Could request to move up; OR 5. Reached at least semifinals of a section open division playoffs. It’s also important to note that there is a limit of only four teams that can be chosen for the Open Division from any one section. This rule needs to change because the CIF Southern Section (which has its own Open Division) basically has too many very good teams and four is just not enough. Finally, the CIF does not have to select eight-team brackets in either the north or south. Byes could be given to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA GIRLS
1. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 29-1
The Rams will also be the No. 1 team in the state overall heading into the regional playoffs. They won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 title on Saturday over McClatchy of Sacramento and their only loss is to a team from Tennessee (which then lost to Mater Dei the next night at the Nike TOC in Arizona).
2. Miramonte (Orinda) 26-2
After holding off Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in Saturday’s CIF North Coast Section D3 final, the Mats climb to No. 2 for this bracket due to recent losses by St. Ignatius of San Francisco.
3. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco)
Forget all those losses (one was to St. Mary’s by just six points) but by winning the CCS Open Division title with wins over St. Ignatius and Pinewood in the semis and finals there’s no doubt the Irish climb into the top 10 overall of the state.
4. Vanden (Travis AFB) 28-3
We have had the Vikings right near the No. 10 spot all year in the overall rankings and they’ll stay there after winning the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 title on Saturday. We know they have a loss to Modesto Christian, but also no stinker losses.
5. Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 24-3
The CIF Division V state champs for last year have to go up to the Open Division this season. Their recent win over Carondelet now doesn’t mean as much, but getting to the CCS Open Division final by beating Eastside Prep (after that team beat Mitty) is more than enough.
6. Modesto Christian 27-4
Here’s the spot where our actual new Top 20 state rankings don’t match these projections because of how we think the CIF commissioners will vote. While we have had Vanden higher in the rankings for a better overall resume, the Crusaders have a head-to-head win over the Vikings and they are the D3 state champs from last season. They’ll therefore be put into the NorCal Open Division and will be placed higher than Vanden as well.
7. St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 21-6
We’re still going with the Wildcats as the No. 3 team out of the CCS Open Division. Yes, they lost in the third-place game to Eastside Prep, but those games can be meaningless. St. Ignatius also still has the wins over Chaminade, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Mitty, etc.
8. Eastside Prep (Palo Alto) 22-5
Will the CIF send a D5 school to play St. Mary’s of Stockton in a first-round game? The Panthers, by virtue of beating St. Ignatius in the CCS Open Division third-place game, would be probably the next team in line, arguably in front of the Wildcats. They also have a head-to-head win over Bishop O’Dowd. We’d prefer to see head coach Donovan Blythe’s girls (only six are on the roster) back in D5 and give St. Mary’s a bye, but we’ll see.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GIRLS
1. Chaminade (West Hills) 25-3
No doubt that the Eagles grab this spot after their 64-63 win over national and state No. 1 Mater Dei in Saturday’s CIFSS Open Division championship. They also beat the Monarchs earlier in the season, but lost to St. Ignatius at the West Coast Jamboree.
2. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 28-2
It’s also a no brainer that Mater Dei just falls back to No. 2 for the Open Division and no doubt hopes for a rematch with Chaminade in the final on Saturday, March 21.
3. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 25-3
Since the Jackrabbits also have a win over Chaminade from earlier in the season, they are an easy pick for the third spot in this bracket. Their only other two losses are to St. Mary’s and Miami Country Day.
4. Alemany (Mission Hills) 24-6
Yes, the top four from the SoCal Open Division also would and should be the top four from the CIF Southern Section Open Division. More proof that a fifth or sixth team needs to come into these open divisions from the CIFSS down the road.
5. Mission Hills (San Marcos) 25-5
The Grizzlies impressed with a win over Mt. Carmel in Saturday’s CIF San Diego Section Open Division final. They have a slightly better resume than CIF Central Section D1 champ Clovis West, but it’s close and those two could switch. We just sort of like the idea of Mission Hills playing a team from Mission Hills in a 4-5 first-round matchup.
6. Clovis West (Fresno) 23-4
It’s too bad that the Golden Eagles are in a system that doesn’t reward them properly for how good they’ve been in recent years. They’ll be taken to the Open Division once again after beating Edison of Fresno in Saturday’s CIF Central Section D1 title game.
7. Palisades (Pacific Palisades) 23-10
With the CIFSS limited to just four teams, that makes it even more difficult for the CIF to find eligible teams for this bracket. Palisades really shouldn’t be in the Open Division, but did win the L.A. City Open Division title over Narbonne on Saturday and has been playing very well since soph guard Chelsey Gipson became eligible in January.
8. Mt. Carmel (San Diego) 28-3
Really, the next team in line would be the Sundevils, who lost to Mission Hills on Saturday by 17, or Narbonne, which lost to Palisades by four. The CIF definitely should not send either one to play Chaminade and give the Eagles a first-round bye.
RECOMMENDED TOP SEEDS
FOR EACH GIRLS DIVISION (SOUTH)
1. Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 22-7
Lost in CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals to Long Beach Poly by four.
2. Windward (Los Angeles) 18-9
Won CIFSS Division IAA championship on Saturday over Etiwanda.
1. Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 23-6
Won CIFSS Division IIAA title on Saturday over league rival Mira Costa.
2. Mt. Carmel (San Diego) 28-3
Lost in San Diego Section Open Division final to Mission Hills.
1. Brea Olinda (Brea) 25-4
Lost to Mater Dei in CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals after posting win in first-round over Centennial of Corona.
2. North (Torrance) 27-2
Improved to 27-2 on Saturday with win over El Dorado of Placentia for CIFSS D3AA crown.
1. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 21-5
The No. 5 team from the CIFSS Open Division and defending state champ for this division.
2. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 25-6
Won CIFSS Open Division consolation title with victory over Serra of Gardena.
1. La Jolla Country Day 14-12
Could be either LJCD or Bishop’s at the top. Both lost in San Diego Open Division. Both have key wins this year, but the Torreys won the last time they played and are the defending champion.
2. Bishop’s (La Jolla) 21-9
With a possibility that Orangewood Academy could nab this spot, Bishop’s is an Open Division team from San Diego and has one of the top sophomores in the nation (Destiny Littleton).
RECOMMENDED TOP SEEDS
FOR EACH GIRLS DIVISION (NORTH)
1. McClatchy (Sacramento) 23-7
Reached Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final opposite likely Open Division top seed St. Mary’s with win over 25-3 Oak Ridge.
2. Berkeley 21-9
Won another NCS Division I crown with victory Saturday against Pittsburg.
1. Dublin 26-3
Defeated big favorite Carondelet of Concord on Saturday to win NCS Division II title.
2. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 21-6
Reached D2 state final last season. Lost in CCS Open Division to Eastside Prep. Came back to win consolation title.
1. Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 21-9
The CIF’s first Open Division girls champ from two years ago lost to Miramonte (Open Div this year) in Saturday’s NCS D3 final.
2. Rio Linda 25-6
The Knights lost to Vanden (Open team) in SJS D3 championship. Yes, O’Dowd looks like a solid favorite in this division (with so many teams moved up to Open).
1. Salesian (Richmond) 26-3
Has now beaten St. Mary’s of Berkeley twice compared to one loss after winning NCS D4 title on Saturday. Also won NorCal Open Division last year and could just as easily get moved up again on Sunday. Really is a blanket between teams at No. 6 through No. 11 or No. 12 in Northern California.
2. St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 23-8
Lost to Salesian of Richmond in NCS D4 title game, but topped the Pride in league tourney. Has win over Bradshaw Christian.
1. Valley Christian (Dublin) 29-3
With both Pinewood and Eastside Prep likely going Open and with Brookside Christian girls now D4, the Vikings appear to be team to beat after winning NCS D5 title on Saturday over St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.
2. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 18-11
Won SJS D5 crown on Friday against Ripon Christian.