Upsets Rattle Rankings in JC Playoffs

Times Staff Writer

On paper, College of the Canyons' loss to Grossmont in the second round of the state regional tournament was no surprise.

Grossmont, seeded No. 4 and ranked fifth in the state, had the better record, bigger guns and faster feet.

Considering the bizarre state of the tournament, a Canyons win would not have been a surprise. Nothing in the tournament has gone according to the law of averages--shooting or otherwise.

Cerritos went into its Wednesday game against Harbor seeded No. 1 in the southern regionals and ranked first in the state. The Falcons had lost only twice in 31 games.

But then Harbor (20-10) crashed Cerritos' party, 76-67, denying the Falcons a shot at playing for the state title in front of a home crowd.

The Seahawks' win was one of the biggest upsets in the history of California junior college basketball.

Almost as bewildering was Riverside's 80-79 loss Wednesday to Mt. San Antonio. The Tigers were ranked third in the state and, along with Cerritos, were favored to end their season as one of the final eight teams to meet March 13-15 in Norwalk. Riverside ended the season 31-4. Mt. SAC is 20-10.

If two monumental upsets weren't enough for underdog enthusiasts, Ventura routed defending state champion El Camino on Tuesday. El Camino (23-5) was ranked fourth in the state. Ventura (15-9) was ranked first in Ventura County.

The top three teams in Southern California--three of the top five in the state--are history.

What happened?

Said JC Athletic Bureau Director Fred Baer: "Well, we've never had this kind of tournament before, so there's really nothing to compare it to."

The Clippers and Golden State Warriors playing for the National Basketball Assn. championship, perhaps?

"It's the nature of the bracket pairings," Baer said. "Instead of conference playoffs like last season, we expanded the regionals to 32 teams. Before, the top-seeded teams automatically were in the final 16 teams because they won their conferences. This season, they don't have three weeks off while the conferences have their playoffs."

Of the five top-ranked teams, only Grossmont and City College of San Francisco remain in the tournament. Second-ranked City College is 28-2 and plays tonight against Santa Rosa (15-15), which it has beaten three times this season.

Don't be surprised if Santa Rosa makes a trip to Cerritos College next week.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World