After two seasons of having the Southern Section Open Division basketball playoffs, things have been looking up.
Teams are starting to want to be included, because the caliber of play is so good. There's been little talk of wanting to lose games just to avoid being pulled from another division that could have led to a championship. The Open Division was designed to bring together the best teams regardless of enrollment or division. It's created some great early matchups.
Remember how Cantwell-Sacred Heart, the No. 16 seed, lost in overtime to No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei two years ago? And remember how Price, the No. 15 seed, came close to upsetting No. 2 Mater Dei last season?
But there could be a problem this season when playoff pairings are announced in two weeks.
The likely top two teams, Chino Hills and Bishop Montgomery, aren't just good in Southern California _ they're as good as any team in the country.
And the depth of top teams in the Southern Section isn't as strong as the last two years. It's still strong at the top with Chino Hills, Bishop Montgomery, Sierra Canyon, Mater Dei, Crespi and Redondo but there's a little drop off after that. And it's also going to be much tougher figuring out who belongs at No. 15 and No. 16.
If you're No. 16, there won't be any celebrating getting the chance to play at No. 1 Chino Hills. And No. 15 won't be any easier playing at No. 2 Bishop Montgomery.
The good news is that players will be excited to test themselves against the best, and Chino Hills and Bishop Montgomery are certainly the best based on anyone who watched Saturday's great matchup that saw Chino Hills prevail, 71-67, before a sold-out gym at Cerritos College.
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