There will be few surprises when Palomar League rivals Poway and Mt. Carmel high schools meet tonight at 7:30 in a San Diego Section Division I boys’ basketball semifinal game at Mira Mesa High School.
Poway and Mt. Carmel split two league meetings this season and finished tied for second place behind top-ranked Torrey Pines.
Poway (21-4), ranked third in the county, defeated Mt. Carmel, 62-47, at home and the Sundevils won, 78-71, at Mt. Carmel.
“Mt. Carmel scored 47 points in the second half the second time we played,” Poway Coach Neville Saner said. “We can’t allow them to score points like that. Also, Mt. Carmel improved as the year went along.”
Mt. Carmel (18-8), ranked No. 9, has been playing well since the second half of the league season. The fifth-seeded Sundevils upset fourth-seeded Monte Vista, 79-73, in the quarterfinals.
Mt. Carmel Coach John Marincovich agrees the Sundevils improved as the season progressed.
“I think our team was struggling early in the season because we hadn’t been together that long,” Marincovich said.
Most schools’ starters have played together by the time the season starts because they compete in summer basketball leagues. But for a variety of reasons--including illness--none of Mt. Carmel’s starters played last summer.
Mt. Carmel is playing together now. And playing well.
Before defeating Monte Vista, the Sundevils routed Division I defending champion Santana, 71-49, in the first round. Poway defeated Granite Hills, 92-85, in the quarterfinals.
The other Division I semifinal is a battle of contrasts. Valhalla, which is back to full strength, faces San Diego, which has lost two key players, tonight at 7:30 at Torrey Pines.
With the return of Rafid Kiti, Valhalla (19-8) has the strongest scoring duo in the county. Kiti missed six games after he suffered a collapsed lung Jan. 30. He returned for the first round of the playoffs as Valhalla defeated Orange Glen. Kiti is averaging 25.3 points but the key to his return is that his outside scoring ability takes some of the pressure off junior Tony Clark, the county’s leading scorer.
Clark had 47 points in Valhalla’s 97-89 double-overtime victory over third-seeded Sweetwater and is averaging 30.1 points per game, second on the all-time list behind Mitchell Lilly of Madison, who averaged 31.9 in 1977.
San Diego, however, lost starting forward Raynard Wells and sophomore forward J.R. Greer, the team’s first player off the bench, when they became academically ineligible just before the playoffs.
Wells led the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game. Clark James now leads second-seeded San Diego with 17.3 points per game.
Even without two of its players, San Diego (19-4) defeated Southwest, 59-55, in the quarterfinals.
Point Loma, looking to win another section title, faces Poway at Mira Mesa at 5:30 tonight in a Division I semifinal game.
The top-ranked Pointers (28-1) have not lost to a team from San Diego County this season and have allowed opponents a combined 34 points in two playoff games.
Point Loma won three consecutive section and state titles from 1985-87.
Poway, the second-place team from the Palomar League, is 19-9 and ranked No. 9 in the county.
In the other semifinal tonight, Santana will be trying to reach the final for the second consecutive year when it plays Mira Mesa at Serra at 5:30 p.m.
The second-seeded Sultans (23-2) are ranked third in the county and are led by Rebecca Aase (16.9 points per game), the leading scorer in the Grossmont Conference.
Mira Mesa (20-7) tied for second in the City Eastern League with Patrick Henry.
Torrey Pines (28-1) has been ranked No. 1 all season and has not lost to a San Diego County team.
Helix, the second-place team in the Grossmont 3-A Division, will try to end that streak in a semifinal tonight at 7:30 at San Dieguito.
Last season, Torrey Pines was the top-ranked team and the top-seeded team in the division but was upset by Kearny in the semifinals.
The top-seeded Falcons are led by forward Courtie Miller (20.8 points per game) and center Kevin Flanagan (17.4).
The Highlanders rely heavily on 6-foot-7 center John Pressler, who averaged 21.8 points during the regular season.
In the other semifinal, Madison, the Division II defending champion, plays Point Loma, a City Eastern League rival, at Serra at 7:30 tonight.
Madison’s Robby Robinson led the county in scoring most of the season and finished second with 27 points per game. He had 30 points in Madison’s last-second 73-71 victory over San Pasqual in the quarterfinals.
Point Loma, the league champion, swept Madison in two league games this season.
This is the last chance Vista center Chris Enger has to win a section title. The top-seeded Panthers (24-3) play Oceanside (20-8), the third-place team from the Avocado League, at San Dieguito at 5:30 tonight.
Enger scored 40 points in Vista’s quarterfinal victory over Palomar League rival Fallbrook, moving into second place on the all-time county career scoring list with 2,444 points.
In the other semifinal, second-seeded San Marcos plays third-seeded Mission Bay at Torrey Pines at 5:30 tonight.
San Marcos (20-6) won the Avocado League championship and Mission Bay (20-7) won the City Western League title.
San Marcos is led by Susie O’Brien, the county’s leading scorer with 29.9 points per game. O’Brien’s season average is third best on the all-time list.
Lincoln (25-1) is the only team in the semifinals with a winning record and the second-ranked Hornets are heavy favorites to win their second Division III title.
Lincoln plays host to Ramona (10-15), an 83-67 winner over St. Augustine in the first round. Clairemont (12-15) plays host to the University of San Diego High School (10-11) in the other semifinal. Both games are at 7:30 tonight.
There are only five teams competing in Division III.
Top-seeded and sixth-ranked Ramona (18-3) plays host to Lincoln (17-5) and second-seeded and No. 5 Our Lady of Peace (19-5) plays host to the University of San Diego High School (10-11). Both games are at 7:30 tonight.