The Moorpark College basketball team had taken a wait-and-see attitude about making the playoffs all season. So it came as no surprise to Coach Al Nordquist that the Raiders were still waiting to find out about a postseason berth after finishing their regular-season games.
To Nordquist's relief, the wait ended Monday when Moorpark earned a berth to the Southern California regional junior college basketball playoffs after finishing 16-14, 6-8 in the Western State Conference. Ventura and Oxnard also made the playoffs.
Compton, the 11th-seeded team, plays host to 22nd-seeded Moorpark in a first-round game Saturday.
Moorpark qualified for the playoffs for the first time in three years despite losing its last four games, including a 100-93 double-overtime loss to Ventura College on Saturday.
"I thought we had a good chance and I felt like we deserved to go to the playoffs," Nordquist said. "I think our overall record was good enough to get us in and our schedule was tougher this season."
For Nordquist, who started the season with 11 new players on a 13-man squad, making the playoffs was especially gratifying.
"I was pleased with the way this team came together and played all year," Nordquist said. "We basically have players who are very average. There are no real superstars on this team."
The Raiders will make good use of their week off before the playoffs start. The time off will allow more time for freshman guard Bruce Watson's injured hand to heal. Watson, who averages 16 points to lead Moorpark in scoring, returned to the lineup against Ventura after missing two games because of a cut index finger.
"Bruce will be ready," Nordquist said.
Compton (20-10, 10-4) placed second in the Southern California Conference. Sophomore forward Jerry Morgan is averaging 19.8 points a game to lead the Tartars in scoring.
Oxnard was in an even more uncertain position coming into this season than Moorpark. Coach Remy McCarthy took over a Condor team that finished 7-22 and won only one of 14 conference games last season.
The Condors (19-11, 9-5) finished second in the WSC Northern Division behind Ventura, which has a first-round bye. Tenth-seeded Oxnard plays host to 23rd-seeded Cypress (13-16, 5-7 in the Orange Empire Conference) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Despite the Condors' improvement, McCarthy is not satisfied at just making the playoffs.
"With Oxnard not having a good season last year, you can look at making the playoffs as a victory," McCarthy said. "But I don't want to look at the playoffs like that. We can't be satisfied with just getting there. I want to win two or three."
Guard Mike Price is averaging 19 points a game to lead Oxnard in scoring. Randy Carter is second at 18.4 points and is the Condors' leading rebounder.
Cypress finished in a four-way tie for third in the Orange Empire Conference after losing its last three games. Andre Lamoureux, a 6-9 freshman forward, leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Lamoureux and Mike Varos, a 5-8 guard, are each averaging 12.9 points a game.
Cypress, which has won two state titles since 1977, is shooting 74% from the free-throw line. Ian Donnelly has made 95% of his free throws to lead Cypress.
Ventura, the WSC Northern Division champion, does not begin its state title quest until next week after drawing a first-round bye. The fifth-seeded Pirates (27-5, 12-2) will play the winner of the Rancho Santiago-Citrus game.
The Pirates advanced to only the second round of the state playoffs last season before losing to Palomar. Ventura won the 1986-87 state title.
Six teams from the WSC advanced to the playoffs. The state finals will be held March 9-11 at Santa Clara University.