NEW Girls BB State Top 20 Rankings

Junior point guard Jayme Blackard shows concentration for No. 11 Carondelet when Cougars played Pinewood several weeks ago. Photo: @Go_Carondelet /

Since there were no teams that lost last week and not much to change, we begin this week’s rankings with a more detailed explanation of the new CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs being conducted through a pool play format. State No. 1 Sierra Canyon leads the pack in those playoffs. No. 2 Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and the rest of Northern California still have one more week to go in the regular season.

Rather than confuse folks or create any type of controversy too far in advance, we haven’t really addressed the CIF Southern Section going to pool play for the boys and girls Open Divisions for that section for this season.

The Southern Section itself, other than a Jan. 24 press release that stated it will be an 8-team pool play bracket this season that none of the coaches we talked to really likes, hasn’t gone through the new format, either. The section spilled the beans on Sunday at 12 noon when it posted the basketball playoff information on its web site. Rather than explain how pool play works for those that don’t know, the simplest way is to say that in pool play every team must play each other, which will eliminate the consolation bracket the section has had since it started the Open Division.

What this also means that even if a team loses its first game it would still be alive in the hunt for the championship because in that format you could lose your first game and still win of of the two four-team pools, with the winners of the pools advancing to the championship game.

While it eliminates consolation games that are usually poorly attended, and adds a fourth set of four games, lower seeded teams’ fans incentive to travel long distances in the first round may be diminished since a loss in the first game still keeps a team in the mix to win the title. It likely won’t affect the top teams, but it’s an experiment for the Southern Section and it remains to be seen if it will be a success.

One thing that is a bit of an equalizer is unlike in the past when a higher seeded team were made to travel, in this format the higher seeded time will get all the home games. When asked for reasons why the CIF Southern Section went to this format, Assistant Commissioner Thom Simmons said: “This was what the coaches on the Open Division advisory committee requested,” and then continued. “The committee felt this would provide meaningful games leading up to advancement into the CIF state tournament, as opposed to consolation games. In previous years, coaches felt the consolation games were of little meaning. The coaches who have participated in the open division over the previous few years participated in a survey and met with us here at the CIFSS office to talk about the direction of the open division tournament. Though not unanimous, the majority liked the pool play idea and wanted to give it a shot.”

More details are on the CIF Southern Section web site.

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