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Rancho Santiago Seeded No. 2 in Basketball Playoffs

The Rancho Santiago College men’s basketball team was seeded second and the Golden West women’s team first in the Southern Section playoff pairings announced Sunday.

Cerritos (27-4), which was co-champion with El Camino in the South Coast Conference, was the No. 1 men’s team.

Rancho Santiago (26-4), which won the Orange Empire Conference and received a first-round bye, was one of five Orange County men’s teams to qualify for the regionals, which start Saturday.

The Saddleback (22-6) and Cypress (17-14) men’s teams finished second and third in the Orange Empire Conference and earned automatic berths. Orange Coast (22-9) enters the tournament as an at-large team from the conference.

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Fullerton (17-14) earned an at-large berth from the South Coast Conference.

Four teams in the 26-team field will advance to the state tournament March 12-14 at Loyola Marymount University.

The 26-team Northern Section field will be announced Tuesday.

Rancho Santiago, which won 20 of its last 21 games and had a school-record 18-game winning streak this season, will play at home against the winner of the Long Beach City (16-14)-Bakersfield (17-11) game March 4.

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Saddleback, which was seeded fourth, opens with No. 20 West Los Angeles (15-13) at Saddleback on Saturday.

On the same night, No. 11 Cypress plays San Bernardino (21-8) at home and No. 12 Orange Coast plays No. 21 College of the Canyons (17-14) at home. All games start at 7:30 p.m.

Fullerton, seeded 19th, plays at No. 16 Mt. San Jacinto (21-8).

The Golden West women’s team, which has won 14 consecutive games going into the playoffs, will open with against No. 16 Palomar at Golden West in the first round Tuesday night at 7:30.

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The Rustlers (30-1) and the South Coast Conference champions, then need to win Friday to advance to the state tournament, which is March 5-7 at Cypress College.

Cypress and Fullerton, the only other Orange County teams to qualify, meet Tuesday at Cypress at 7:30 p.m.

The winner plays the winner of the Golden West-Palomar game Friday.


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