The old expression “the cream rises to the top” could not be more appropriate than in describing the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs because after all the grousing and social media complaints about the pool play format, the teams that were seeded No. 1 in each pool went 3-0, although each of their wins in the third game last Saturday were only by a deuce. The result is the Gold Coast League will have both teams vying for the title on Saturday at Cal Baptist University in Riverside with state No. 1 Sierra Canyon meeting No. 5 Windward. From there, we will see what the CIF seeding committee does and it may very well take six teams from the CIFSS for the Southern Regional Open Division field. In the north, the CIF North Coast Section is where the most Open Division teams will be from.
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CAL-HI SPORTS UPDATED TOP 20
GIRLS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Previous rating in parentheses; through games of Saturday, Feb. 16)
1. (1) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 29-0
After winning their first game in Pool A of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs by 27 points over Troy (Fullerton) the Trailblazers had to scramble to win that pool with two very close wins over Redondo Union and Bishop Montgomery, 49-48 and 61-59, respectively. Prior to those two games, the San Fernando Valley girls’ closest margin of victory in a perfect season so far was in a 72-65 victory over a Chaminade of West Hills squad that not surprisingly is playing for the CIFSS D1 championship. In the Redondo victory, the Trailblazers led by as many as 14 points midway through the third quarter and by eight entering the fourth period, but Redondo got hot to close to 49-46 in the waning moments. With head coach Alicia Komaki directing her girls not to foul, Redondo opted for a two-pointer but it was almost at the buzzer and Komaki and her girls escaped. Against Bishop Montgomery, it was exactly the opposite. Sierra Canyon trailed by as many as 13 points in the second quarter but chipped away. The girls cut it to six at the half and three to enter the final period. Sierra Canyon took its first lead in the early fourth but it was back and forth from there. Vanessa De Jesus got a 2-point lead by converting a big one-on-one, but Bishop Montgomery tied it going into the final minute. The game was decided when the Trailblazers got a huge stop, and with Ashley Chevalier on the fly she found Amanda Olinger for the game winner. Chevalier had 19 points along with Alexis Mark, while De Jesus finished with 14 points with most coming in the second half. “That last minute was crazy but we got stops down the stretch,” Komaki remarked. Now, next Saturday at California Baptist University in Riverside, Sierra Canyon will face a Windward of Los Angeles team it beat 66-57 in Gold Coast play.