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Glendale boys' basketball's return to CIF playoffs comes with arduous first-round foe

Glendale boys' basketball's return to CIF playoffs comes with arduous first-round foe
Larrenz Carino and the Glendale High boys' basketball team will make its return to the CIF postseason. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Triumph was realized by the Glendale High boys' basketball team on Sunday when it officially received a berth in the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 2015.

However, the realization of a goal accomplished was accompanied by the realization that the Nitros have a daunting first-round foe in CIF Southern Section Division 3-A No. 2 seed Culver City.

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"We're excited to be in the playoffs and we'll face Culver City and we'll go from there," Nitros coach Ib Belou said. "It doesn't matter what we thought would happen [with the playoff draw] or what we hoped would happen, we've got Culver City."

Glendale will open up the playoffs on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m., as will Crescenta Valley at Santa Ana Foothill in Division 2-A play, while Flintridge Prep will host Compton Centennial in Division 4-AA and St. Monica Academy will open the Division 5-A playoffs at home against Westmark.

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Glendale's return to the playoffs will see it travel to Culver City (15-7), which won the Ocean League title. The Nitros finished fifth in the Pacific League and received an at-large berth into the playoffs on the strength of their 18-9 record.

"We're excited for the opportunity to play on their home court and try to beat them," Belou said. "We're playing the right way."

An upset would put the Nitros into Friday's second round against Torrance (16-11, Pioneer League champion) or Glendora (15-11, Palomares League at-large).

Though facing the No. 2 seed is a daunting task for a team inexperienced in the postseason, Belou believes the competition already seen in league play has his Nitros prepared.

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"The times we played Pasadena and Muir, that's gonna help us," said Belou of the rigors of playing league foes the Bulldogs (Division I No. 3 seed) and Mustangs (Division 2-A No. 2 seed).

After finishing third in the Pacific League, Crescenta Valley (15-11) will travel to play Foothill (14-14), which took second in the Crestview League. If the Falcons win, they'll move on to Friday's second round to face Beaumont (21-6, Mountain Pass No. 2) or Riverside Poly (20-7, Inland Valley No. 3).

Crescenta Valley lost at home to Whittier, 64-49, in last season's 2-AA first round.

Flintridge Prep (13-11), which shared the Prep League title with Pasadena Poly, will host Centennial (13-12), an at-large team from the Pioneer League.

The winner is likely to see No. 1 seed Hillcrest (25-3, River Valley League champion) in Friday's second round. Hillcrest will open up against Sunbelt at-large entry Heritage (15-10).

Flintridge Prep advanced to the second round of Division 4-AA playoffs, losing to Blair, 62-53, after a first-round win at home versus Quartz Hill, 68-47.

Coming off winning the International League crown, St. Monica will open the Division 5-A playoffs on Wednesday at home against Westmark.

The Crusaders (18-4) were perfect in International League play but are recognized as the No. 4 team out of the league due to the two-tiered system within the league, but it was enough to garner the No. 4 seed in Division 5-A. Westmark (8-12) took fifth place in the 10-team Omega League.

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If the Crusaders, who didn't make the playoffs a year ago, move on, it will be to the second round Saturday at Shandon (11-5, Coast Valley League co-champion), which received a first-round bye.

Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon

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