We went 16-for-16 in recommending teams for the NorCal and SoCal Open Division boys basketball playoffs, including Foothills Christian of El Cajon. Bishop O’Dowd and Bishop Montgomery, meanwhile, grabbed the No. 1 seeds in the Open Division. For the girls, The NorCal Open Division could have been picked in a number of different ways after all of the upsets in the last two weeks. Bottom line it was good news for Vanden & Eastside but not so good for Modesto Christian.
Note: Before we get started about all of the teams that are playing in this week’s regional playoffs, we have to mention one team that is not – San Diego Division I champion Horizon Christian. For a breakdown of why, CLICK HERE.
Note: These same breakdowns for all of the CIF boys and girls divisional brackets that were announced on Sunday afternoon are for our Gold Club members. It’s a great time to sign up. Our basketball coverage will extend throughout the calendar year with player rankings, state record updates and more. To get your Gold Club membership today, CLICK HERE.
OPEN DIVISION (NORTH BOYS)
•State No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd possibly could have gotten a first-round bye, but will host CCS Open Division runner-up St. Francis of Mountain View. It makes sense in a way because St. Francis lost in its title game to Serra of San Mateo by two points and beat Serra twice earlier in the season.
•We have Modesto Christian ranked higher than Folsom and the Crusaders probably should be higher than No. 7, but they’d be on the road for the first-round regardless due to a head-to-head loss to El Cerrito. If MC doesn’t start as poorly as it did against Sacramento, it could be an upset special at No. 2 Monte Vista of Danville.
OPEN DIVISION (SOUTH BOYS)
•One of the messages we see in this year’s brackets is that the CIF is going to have to have very, very strong reasons for a No. 1 team in the open divisions to get a first-round bye. Bishop Montgomery certainly could have gotten one too, but instead will host St. Augustine of San Diego.
•Sierra Canyon clearly is the No. 4 team in the CIF Southern Section by any rankings criteria, but did not make it to the CIFSS Open Division semis. It’s no surprise that the Trailblazers stayed in D5 and that semifinalist Orange Lutheran was put into the Open Division, but have never heard any good reasons why automatic semifinalists have to go when some of the quarterfinalist losers are frankly better teams. It doesn’t take much examination of which teams beat which ones and by how much. Orange Lutheran is playing No. 2 Fairfax in its first-round game.
•Mater Dei’s head-to-head win over Fairfax obviously didn’t carry as much weight as we thought with the Lions getting the No. 2 seed and the Monarchs going at No. 4. Still, the matchups themselves are hard to argue with Bishop Montgomery-Mater Dei and Etiwanda-Fairfax as possible semifinals.
OPEN DIVISION (NORTH GIRLS)
•With all of the upsets in the CCS plus Carondelet’s upset loss to Dublin in the NCS, this bracket was blown up in the last week. St. Mary’s of Stockton got the top seed as expected but it was puzzling why the Rams were matched up in the first round with a Modesto Christian team they’ve already beaten rather easily.
•The big winner, in one sense, was the Vanden girls, which surprisingly did not crack the top eight and we’re sure they’re glad that the CIF went completely against our rankings and did not pick them for the Open Division. In some cases, head-to-head results are all that matters, and Vanden’s losses to St. Mary’s of Berkeley and Modesto Christian were obviously the difference. It’s a case in which what Vanden did against the rest of the state – such as wins against Brea Olinda, Clovis West and Vista Murrieta – meant zero to the committee.
•We also thought that Eastside Prep was going to be put into the Open Division instead of St. Ignatius due to its win over the Wildcats in the CCS Open Division third-place game. That didn’t happen, either, but in that case what St. Ignatius did in its other games – including a win over CIFSS Open Division winner Chaminade – was too much. Look for Eastside and Vanden now to be favorites for CIF state titles in D5 and D3, respectively.
OPEN DIVISION (SOUTH GIRLS)
•The only differences in what we thought would happen and what did happen is that Alemany of Mission Hills didn’t get the fourth seed and instead will travel to play Clovis West of Fresno. With a recent win over Chaminade, Alemany clearly should be the higher-ranked team, but it’s not going to be easy for the Warriors to play up in Fresno.
•Narbonne did get the eighth spot, as expected, but it’s too bad the L.A. City runner-up has to go up to the Open Division when so many higher-ranked CIFSS teams do not.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
A friend of my wife’s at work has a kid on Orange Lutheran, and so I saw them play Centennial in the Open Division and advance to the semi-finals. OLU played a very inspired and tough game, upsetting Centennial that night. I told my wife after the game that unfortunately, they won the battle but lost the war. In other words, they were too good for their own good that night. A state championship looked like a good possibility in a lower division. But who knows? If they can beat Centennial, perhaps they can advance in this spot.
It’s going to be tough for Orange Lutheran to win a CIF Open Division title. I agree. Makes Mater Dei look better because they beat OLU twice easily.