From the bizarro world of CIF state playoffs, competitive equity seeding and Open Divisions comes this very real possibility: one prominent school in which its boys basketball team is competing in Northern California while its girls team is in Southern California. The school we’re talking about is Clovis West of Fresno, which is the top seed for the CIF Central Section Division I playoffs for both boys and girls.
Here’s how and why this could happen to Clovis West and why it might have to happen to ensure the CIF’s Open Divisions are as closely matched as possible:
(Clovis West would have to win both section titles for a lot of these scenarios to line up and that’s no guarantee)
*The CIF has increasingly placed CIF Central Section teams into the north instead of the south for its regional playoffs and can do so according to its bylaws. The Central Section is the only section in which this can apply due its more geographical center of the state compared to the other sections. In girls volleyball just last fall, Central High of Fresno won the CIF Northern California Open Division title.
*The CIF L.A. City Section in the south will just about for sure have two teams in the CIF SoCal Open Division boys basketball regional bracket of eight teams — Fairfax and Westchester. On the girls side, however, it will be quite a reach as it looks right now for the CIF to include an L.A. City Section girls team in the Open Division. Maybe Granada Hills Charter if it were to win the L.A. City Open title, but unlike last year with Fairfax there’s no key result to point to in order to force Granada Hills Charter upward that high.
*It seems about time that the CIF will finally include more than four CIF Southern Section teams in either its boys or girls Open Division brackets. That has not happened before, but if the new pool play format that the CIFSS implemented for this season in its own Open Division has shown anything it’s that there’s more than four elite teams that should be in the SoCal Open (both girls and boys).
*The CIF Central Coast Section is another factor in the possibility of the Clovis West teams being split. In the CCS Open Division for girls, there is a clear cut duo of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) and Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) that should be in the NorCal Open. In the CCS Open Division for boys, however, there is not. It probably will only be the winner of that bracket going to the NorCal Open, although if Archbishop Riordan is the runner-up there’s a chance the Crusaders could go to the Open since they have a head-to-head win over Branson of Ross.
*Doing a rough sketch of the projected teams for both the NorCal and SoCal Open Divisions, putting the Clovis West girls in the south and the Clovis West boys in the north (if both of them qualify through their section playoffs of course) actually might balance out both brackets quite nicely. For the boys in the south, we mapped it out with five CIFSS teams, two from L.A. City and one from San Diego. For the boys in the north, Clovis West would project to be with at least three teams from the Sac-Joaquin, at least three from the North Coast and one from the CCS. For the girls in the south, Clovis North (which just beat Clovis West for the first time) and the Golden Eagles would project to be in that bracket with the five from the CIFSS plus the one team from San Diego.
*Also this year, according to the CIF’s blue pages for basketball, there is no longer a formula being followed to move teams up into the Open Division. If a team like the Weston Ranch boys of Stockton looks like it can handle being in the NorCal Open Division, they’ll be moved up into it even though in previous years the Cougars would not be eligible and would have to declare their intentions of moving up.
Yes, it would be bizarre if one school with its boys and girls teams was placed in different regional tournaments, but if you really dive deep into the details it could happen. For Clovis West it might also potentially help the two teams get seeded higher in those projected brackets instead of one team seeded lower just so that the boys and girls teams were in the same region. Yet one more change this year, remember, is that all regional finals will be at home sites so getting as high of a seed as possible is even more important.