Girls BB: Horizon Christian done

We’ve been doing this for 35 years, longer than the CIF has even had a state tournament, and the Horizon Christian girls basketball team having its season end through a series of CIF San Diego Section policies, CIF state/regional criteria and ridiculous power rankings is one of the worst cases of how not to run high school sports that we’ve ever seen.

For more breakdowns of the CIF Open Division girls pairings, CLICK HERE.

For more breakdowns of the CIF girls pairings for each division, CLICK HERE. (Requires Gold Club)

The Horizon Christian girls won the Horizon League title over two teams that are still playing in the regional playoffs – La Jolla Country Day and Bishop’s of La Jolla in Division V. The Panthers, who also won their bracket at the prestigious Nike TOC in Arizona and are led by one of the top juniors in the nation in DiJonai Carrington, then didn’t get into the San Diego Open Division playoffs because the section uses a somewhat comical power rankings system to choose that division.

Horizon head coach Vickie Carrington also is the wife of former San Diego Charger Darren Carrington and is the mother of the University of Oregon receiver by same name.

Horizon head coach and A.D. Vickie Carrington also is the wife of former San Diego Charger Darren Carrington and is the mother of the University of Oregon receiver by same name.

So what did Horizon Christian do in the San Diego Division I playoffs? Coach Vickie Carrington’s team won, of course, including 66-59 in the final over Mt. Miguel of Spring Valley, an impressive achievement considering that the school is Division V by enrollment (less than 500).

This brings us to Sunday’s SoCal regional seeding meeting. San Diego Open Division winner Mission Hills went to the SoCal Open Division. Runner-up Mt. Carmel went to the SoCal D2 bracket.

Since San Diego only gets two teams into the SoCal D1 bracket, guess what happens? Horizon wasn’t in the San Diego Open Division so those next two teams become Torrey Pines of San Diego and Eastlake of Chula Vista (which were in the section’s Open Division). No more room for Horizon in D1 and the team wasn’t chosen to any other division, either, which means its season is over.

If anyone with a brain and not someone using power rankings were doing those San Diego Open Division pairings, here’s what you’d see: 1. Eastlake has a 44-35 loss to Otay Ranch; 2. Otay Ranch has a 30-point loss to Horizon Christian.

It reminds us of last fall when the section’s first power rankings came out for football and were about the stupidest rankings ever produced. At the time, eventual champion Oceanside wasn’t even in the top eight. Eventually, the right teams made it into the section’s Open Division. This time, the rankings that make no sense continued all the way to the end and helped to bite a team in the butt.

We really do try to respect all teams still playing, but trust us that Horizon Christian would crush three or four of the D1 South teams still playing. Why does the L.A. City Section get four spots in D1 South anyway, especially when it already had two teams taken up to the Open Division?

The Horizon Christian girls literally did nothing wrong. They won their league title (possibly the best small school girls league in the state), they didn’t lose in the playoffs but in the end got jobbed from a flawed system. Don’t know what the message is here, but perhaps it’s just important for the players and coaches to know that there are people out there who have noticed and would go to battle for them.

Also, if any other sections in California want to copy San Diego’s power rankings system, print out this story. DO NOT DO IT. You’ll end up punishing very deserving kids.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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  1. phil60
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm | Permalink


    I thought I would never see a ranking system more comical than Max Preps, but here it is. But I do not quite get why Horizon could not have been picked to play in D5 if they have a D5 enrollment? Sounds to me that they’re better than either of those other two San Diego teams.

    • docpj1
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Per the state CIF office, they were able to play in D5, if their section allowed it. Per John Labeta at San Diego CIF office, “we don’t care about states”. Per Jerry Schneipp at San Diego CIF office, “San Diego has always done poorly in the state playoffs anyway, so we wanted to give schools that have never been there an opportunity.” It was the San Diego CIF policy that refused to allow Horizon to take the vacant place – they left it vacant rather than allowing Horizon to compete.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Horizon had to have been in the Open Division for it to be able to drop back down to D5. That is why both La Jolla Country Day and Bishop’s are in D5. Horizon was incorrectly (in our view) placed in D1 and therefore could only go to state in D1 or Open.

  2. sdfan
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    How about the fact Foothills Christian boys in San Diego was moved around, in essence bending/breaking the San diego section criteria and rules. Sounds like some bias and potential title ix discrimination stuff.

    • docpj1
      Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      For the record, at the start of the season, SDS CIF had to send the divisions for all their schools to the state. Their open teams were listed as D1 teams. So, it is not the state that has not permitted it, it is San Diego that made up their rule that they would only allow the open teams to move. I don’t know about Foothills. I know that Escondido boys team was in the same position that Horizon girls were in. Mount Miguel girls also could have gone in D4, but SDS CIF chose to not allow any schools but the open schools to move between divisions. That was a San Diego policy, not a state policy.

  3. docpj1
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Great article. I couldn’t have said it better!

  4. Christopher Wood
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article but Horizon Christian beat Mount Miguel 66-59 in Girls CIF SDS D1 Basketball Final… Not 59-49.

  5. Bodyguard
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    “San Diego has always done poorly in the state playoffs anyway, so we wanted to give schools that have never been there an opportunity.”

    What makes this even more crazy is that Horizon’s girls have never played in a state championship game. They made it to Socal D-5 regional final two seasons ago, losing to Sierra Canyon in close game. This whole thing is awful.

  6. Jim Thompson
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    So now what? If the purpose of our SD power ranking system is solely to seed teams into our section play-offs and that’s the extent of it, then they need to consider continuing that system throughout the playoffs also. The (strength-of-schedule, record-of-opponent) points awarded would have an even bigger impact in determining the best teams to represent SD at the state level if it’s used during playoffs too. Continue to compile points and ratings thru Friday/Saturday night’s Finals, then figure out who goes to the state tournament based on how many spots we get in each division. Some teams would be seeded back to their enrollment-based division which could knock another team out, but at least they wouldn’t suffer the fate of Horizon, Escondido and others. This way our top teams, based on the current system, would truly represent our best teams. Maybe we do this now, but my presumption is we do not.

  7. Jadah Queen
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I hope somebody fixes this issue, and quick!

  8. Bodyguard
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately it will be too late for Horizon. DiJonai is a junior and I believe the rest of the team is pretty young so they’ll be on a mission next year!

  9. rono1932
    Posted March 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the SDS’s staffs’ job descritions are and what their priorities are supposed to be.
    Remember back in the Fall of 2013 and the fiasco of Christian of El Cajon’s football team? The CIF rule at the time that made them ineligible for the regionals in CIF D4 seemed very vague and very much subject to interpretation. However, the decision to disqualify them didn’t come down until about the 2nd round of the SDS football playoffs. Preseason, nearly every high school media publication in the state knew that Christian would be a very strong contender for the CIF D4 title if eligible! SDS staff should have been on top of that.
    However, SDS is not the only section administration around that seems to have “strange priorities”.
    In NCS, it’s still not clear as to why Khalil MacKenzie was declared ineligible at Clayton Valley for the entire ’14 football. What exactly does transferring for athletic reasons actually mean? It seems each section interprets that differently. Last year’s O’Dowd women’s basketball team was declared ineligible for the NCS playoffs and then CIF declared them ineligible for the NorCals. The reasoning was that they played 1 game over the 26 limit , however O’Dowd thought it was supposed to be an exhibition. If NCS felt it was a scheduled game, why weren’t they notified immediately so the Lady Dragons could have cancelled 1 of their scheduled games. Not to mention how NCS, and CCS too, allow for the leagues to have post regular season tournaments that put most of those teams over the maximum allowed regular season games.
    Anyway, there are dozens of “bumbles” that have been made by the high school athletic associations over the years. However, with California having about 1600 high schools playing sports, these “mistakes” are bound to happen. However, that doesn’t help the Horizon Christian girls basketball team, nor the O’Dowd girls basketball team, nor the Christian football team, nor dozens of other teams and young athletes who are hurt by the “bumbling” of the athletic associations that are supposed to be run by knowledgeable and well trained adults.
    Perhaps the real problem has to do with the “priorities” of those charged with overseeing high school sports in California.


    • Mark Tennis
      Posted March 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Each section is run differently than each other and each one seems to get more complicated in how they do things each year as well. None of them are as screwy right now as San Diego, however. If the small private schools in that section could leave the organization, they are fed up so much right now that I think they would do it.

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