CIF Open Division Projections

K.J. Martin grabs rebound for Sierra Canyon in last year’s CIF Open Division final while on the left it’s Windward’s Charisma Osbourne getting a hug from head coach Vanessa Nygaard just before the end of the Open Division girls final. Photos: Nick Koza & WindwardSchool.org.


With CIF section boys and girls basketball championships set to tip off on Friday and continuing through Saturday night, we have the breakdowns over which teams seem to be best in line to be placed in this year’s CIF Northern California and Southern California eight-team Open Division brackets. Those will be announced on Sunday and it’s always fun to compare what we think to what actually is done.

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(Remember, folks, CIF bylaws no longer have any language about any section having a limit of four teams in any Open Division and this doesn’t just apply to the CIF Southern Section.)

Jeremiah Dargan is a standout freshman playing for De La Salle. Photo: Mark Tennis.


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOYS
Salesian (Richmond)
— Unbeaten, nationally ranked Pride will be the top seed if it wins CIF North Coast Section D3 title.
Sheldon (Sacramento) — Defending champs of the bracket likely would get No. 2 seed even with the four forfeit losses if it beats Modesto Christian and wins CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 championship.
Weston Ranch (Stockton) — Cougars have won 29 in a row and would still be ahead of Modesto Christian in the human rankings due to winning Modesto Christian’s own tournament if they win SJS D3 title on Saturday vs. Central Catholic. Will the seeds match?
Modesto Christian — Crusaders essentially clinched their spot in the NorCal Open the way they looked in 68-50 win vs. Folsom on Wednesday in SJS D1 semis.
Clovis West (Fresno) — Yes, we would put the CW boys in the north and they’d have to be behind Modesto Christian in NorCal Open seedings due to head-to-head loss. If MC were to beat Sheldon on Saturday, could see Golden Eagles going to the No. 4 seed and Sheldon falling all the way to the No. 5 and then the two would play each other in Fresno in first round.
De La Salle (Concord) — A lot of the recent games have been close, but Spartans are up to 27-3 and we’d now say that both themselves and James Logan (team they play on Saturday in NCS D1 final) will be going to the NorCal Open Division.
James Logan (Union City) — The last loss for the Colts (24-5) was to Pleasant Grove of Utah (one of best teams in that state) and they just avenged an earlier loss to Dublin with a win in Wednesday’s NCS D1 semis when Tim Oldham canned a miraculous 30-foot buzzer beater.
CCS Open Division — If Bellarmine of San Jose (20-6) wins the title in this division, the Bells have the resume to be in the NorCal Open Division. If Sacred Heart Cathedral wins it, then clearly that couldn’t happen. Irish still have a losing record at 12-14.
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) — The Dragons (21-7) are playing Moreau Catholic for NCS D2 title. For them to be in the NorCal Open, may need either Bellarmine to lose in the CCS or for Clovis West to get upset by Bullard of Fresno in Central Section.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BOYS
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
— Defending CIF Open Division state champions and playing Bishop Montgomery of Torrance on Saturday for CIF Southern Section Open Division title. Trailblazers were only team that went 3-0 in pool play.
Fairfax (Los Angeles) — The Lions (27-1) will try to make it 3-0 vs arch-rival Westchester in Saturday’s L.A. City Section Open Division final.
Rancho Christian (Temecula) — Losing a game in CIFSS Open Division pool play to Bishop Montgomery hurts this team, but the Eagles (25-5) also have a recent win over Sierra Canyon plus other notable victories.
Westchester (Los Angeles) — Coach Ed Azzam’s squad beat Fairfax in the L.A. City Open final last year and will be trying for the same. And if Bishop Montgomery were to upset Sierra Canyon, Comets could go all the way to No. 1 seed since they have a win over the Knights.
Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) — Knights looking for third CIFSS Open title in five years when they face Sierra Canyon on Saturday.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) — A win last week over Centennial (Corona) clinched a SoCal Open berth for the youthful Monarchs (27-4). A win vs. St. John Bosco avenged an earlier loss.
Centennial (Corona) — The Huskies (26-5) have been as high as No. 4 overall in the state. Their CIFSS Open Division losses were to Mater Dei and Sierra Canyon. They also have a win over Fairfax (that team’s only loss).
Etiwanda — We’ve been speculating that the CIF almost always puts the CIF San Diego Open Division champ into the SoCal Open. But Etiwanda owns a head-to-head win over Foothills Christian and also has two wins over Rancho Verde (which has been playing better lately). It would be unprecedented for the CIF to take six teams from the CIFSS into the SoCal Open boys bracket, but c’mon they’re not going to stick a Central Section team into the mix and the results clearly show that six from the CIFSS should be in it along with the two from L.A. City.
Torrey Pines (San Diego) — If the Falcons (24-6) were to win the SD Open title, they’d be avenging an earlier loss to Foothills Christian. They also have a loss to a CIFSS Open team, but to Bishop Montgomery. It does seem more likely that if Torrey Pines wins on Saturday, that it would have a stronger case to be in the SoCal Open than if Foothills were to win.

Mikayla Edwards of Salesian will play next at the University of Hawaii. Photo: Courtesy school.


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA GIRLS
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
— Haley Jones has been playing like a girl possessed and has the Monarchs (23-2) on a roll heading into CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final. They’re trying to get back to Open Division state final and win a title that eluded them two years ago.
Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) — The winner of the CCS Open title game will be the top seed in the NorCal Open Division. The Panthers (22-2) were underdogs in this game to Mitty last year and stunned the Monarchs in triple overtime.
Carondelet (Concord) — Yes, we have the Cougars (25-7) ranked lower than Miramonte this week, but them having a win over the Matadors and having a split with Salesian probably is going to put them as the highest seed coming out of the NCS title games. That’s assuming all three of those teams win titles and all three should be difficult games.
Miramonte (Orinda) — Head coach Kelly Sopak’s girls (25-2) are playing Bishop O’Dowd for the NCS D2 championship. Their best rankings win probably is the one against Clovis North of Fresno, which we think should and will be in the SoCal Open Division.
Salesian (Richmond) — The Pride (21-8) have a split with Carondelet and generally have played one of the toughest schedules not just in the state but the nation. They are playing St. Joseph Notre Dame for the NCS D3 title.
Sacramento — Yes, we know the Sac-Joaquin Section and some rankings don’t have the Dragons (18-7) that high, but if they beat 29-2 Antelope for the SJS D2 title, you would have to simply have your head in the sand not to acknowledge they belong in this group. They have a head-to-head win over a Heritage (Brentwood) team that beat Antelope and they have a win over Etiwanda, which has been as high as No. 3 in the state. We wouldn’t want to see them in a No. 8 vs. No. 1 game vs. Mitty since they’ve already been routed by the Monarchs, but if they beat Antelope they should not only be in the NorCal Open but even as high as No. 6.
Heritage (Brentwood) — The Patriots (24-3) aren’t favored to beat Carondelet in the NCS D1 title game, but still look like they’ll be in the NorCal Open Division even if they don’t win. They have a split with St. Mary’s of Stockton and a win over Antelope.
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) — A 53-47 win on Wednesday at Cardinal Newman could push the Pilots (20-6) into the NorCal Open even if they lose to Salesian in the NCS D3 final and even though they’d be the fifth team from the NCS in that bracket. Both St. Joe and Cardinal Newman have wins over Bear Creek of Stockton so if Bear Creek were to win the SJS D1 title and be submitted by the SJS as its top team we don’t know how the CIF would overlook those facts and put St. Joe seventh and Bear Creek eighth.
Bear Creek (Stockton) — The key for the Bruins (25-4) to be getting into the NorCal Open Division is going to be beating St. Mary’s of Stockton on Saturday for the SJS D1 title. They also might need Antelope to beat Sacramento for the SJS D2 crown since they have a win over Antelope.
St. Mary’s (Stockton) — If the Rams win their 12th straight SJS title on Saturday and do it by toppling Bear Creek (which is where head coach Tom Gonsalves is a PE teacher), they might have to be in the NorCal Open Division with their pedigree. St. Mary’s (19-8) also has a split with Heritage and a win against Bishop O’Dowd. Could the CIF go with Antelope (29-2) in the NorCal Open in that one-team-from-the-SJS scenario if it’s the Rams and Titans that win section titles? We wouldn’t do it that way, but they might.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GIRLS
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
— If the Trailblazers can run the table with a CIF SoCal and the CIF Open Division state title after possibly beating Windward for the CIF Southern Section Open Division crown this weekend, then they have a chance to be an unbeaten mythical national champion.
Clovis West (Fresno) — The CIF Open Division state champion from two years ago could be the top seed in this bracket if they can get past Clovis North in the CIF Central Section D1 final and Windward upsets Sierra Canyon in the CIFSS Open final. The Golden Eagles (28-3) have a head-to-head win over the Wildcats.
Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) — We actually have the Knights (23-6) ranked third in the state because they almost upset Sierra Canyon last week and that was the only loss they had in their CIFSS Open Division pool play bracket.
Windward (Los Angeles) — Reigning Ms. Basketball Player of the Year Charisma Osborne and the Wildcats (24-5) may be heating up at the right time. They had CIFSS pool play wins over Etiwanda, Mater Dei and Rosary and will play league rival Sierra Canyon next for the CIFSS Open Division title.
Clovis North (Fresno) — The Broncos (24-4) knocked off Clovis West two weeks ago and if they do it again this weekend and win the Central Section D1 title, they will not only be in the SoCal Open Division but may get a top three seed.
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) — Head coach Kevin Kiernan and staff are playing the waiting game after they ended their CIFSS pool play schedule with wins over Etiwanda and Rosary with the only loss in a close game to Windward. The best case scenario would be for Clovis North to beat Clovis West for a possible No. 3 seed or No. 4 at the minimum. If MD (27-7) and Clovis North are 4 and 5 (in either order), that’s huge because the lower seeded team is going to be taking a long road trip.
Etiwanda — The Eagles (26-5) lost to Windward and Mater Dei in CIFSS Open Division pool play, but they beat the Monarchs earlier in the season. Since the L.A. City Section and now San Diego really are devoid of any Open Division candidates, it is going to be awfully difficult for the CIF not to pick six from the CIFSS and two from the Central Section for the SoCal Open field.
Redondo (Redondo Beach) — Like Bishop Montgomery, the Seahawks (23-4) also gave No. 1 Sierra Canyon a scare last week and they also have an earlier win over Mater Dei.
CIF San Diego Section — The two finalists for the SD Open Division — Mission Hills (20-10) and Cathedral Catholic (24-6) — both have losses in games that weren’t close to CIFSS Open teams. The Grizzlies, who beat La Jolla Country Day in Wednesday’s semifinals, have lost 81-64 to Rosary. The Dons have a loss to Redondo.
CIF L.A. City Section — Last year, the CIF took Fairfax to the SoCal Open because the Lions had a head-to-head win vs. Bishop Montgomery. There’s nothing like that this year and it just wouldn’t be right to jump up top seed Granada Hills Charter (27-5) into the Open Division if it defeats Westchester in the L.A. City Section Open Division final.

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


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