Here’s what our main California girls basketball analyst Harold Abend thinks about the CIF Open Division pairings (both north & south) that were announced on Sunday:
There were some real surprises in both the Northern Regional and Southern Regional Open Division selections and seedings, but we knew the process would have them so we have to agree with Berkeley St. Mary’s head coach Nate Fripp when he said the following after being told he was the No. 5 seed in the north. “I’m not upset. I’m surprised we were chosen ahead of Carondelet, but it is what it is.”
What it is could be a little puzzling, particularly with respect to Berkeley St. Mary’s. The Panthers do have a head-to-head win over a Vanden team that also lost to NorCal Open No. 8 seed Modesto Christian, but Vanden has a win over SoCal Open No. 4 seed Fresno Clovis West, and a win over SoCal Division I No. 2 seed Vista Murrieta, and the Carondelet team that went back to Division II has a win over SoCal Open No. 6 seed Mission Hills of San Marcos.
Also, St. Mary’s being seeded higher than No. 7 Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) and Pinewood behind No. 6 St. Ignatius (San Francisco) is also a reason for more head scratching.
Several texts, tweets and emails also wanted to know why Dublin did not go ahead of St. Mary’s Berkeley, and that probably had to do with not having much of a resume prior to the upset over Carondelet. Dublin indeed could have been taken up to the Open Division because the team did make it into the NorCal playoffs the last two seasons.
The Southern Region commissioners seemingly leveled the field with the north and answered past complaints about a short field by adding two teams this season and going from six teams to eight, but they did it by adding the two teams from the L.A. City Section that had a chance to win a state title in their own division, but no chance in the Open field.
Other than that, the SoCal field seems reasonably seeded, other than a Clovis West team with a loss to a Vanden team left out seeded No. 4 and ahead of No. 5 Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills. The good news for Clovis West fans is the higher seed means at least they get a home game.
Depending on how you weighed the various criteria for the Open Division, a case could have been made for a whole slew of scenarios, including what was arrived at with the 16 teams chosen. The north basically became a mess with many late-season upsets, especially in the CCS.
The bottom line is our predictions for the Open Divisions won’t make a whole lot of difference other than No. 1 Stockton St. Mary’s in the NorCals and No. 2 Chaminade (West Hills) and No. 3 Santa Ana Mater Dei in the SoCals. Unless No. 4 Long Beach Poly gets it together, it’s going to be some combination of those three teams that will be in the Open Division state final later this month at Cal’s Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend