Something old, something new.
Hey, we know it’s a cliche, but placing teams in regional brackets for easier travel has added a new dimension to the CIF Southern Section basketball playoffs.
Now, just about every first-round game pits one Orange County team against another. The region I bracket in Division I-A, for example, looks like a replay of the South Coast League season, with top-seeded Mater Dei (25-2), Dana Hills (15-12), San Clemente (17-8) and Mission Viejo (16-10) taking part. But some things never change. Mater Dei will be seeking its sixth consecutive section title.
The county has produced several other highly seeded teams. Sonora (23-3) is seeded No. 3 in Division II-A, the top team in its Region III bracket, which counts all eight teams from Orange County. But in a departure from total regionalism, Brea Olinda (23-3) is seeded fourth atop a Division II-A bracket that includes seven teams from the Inland Empire.
Southern Section officials say that as many as 75% of the teams were bracketed based on their localities.
Brethren Christian opens the playoffs Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. by hosting Burbank Providence (13-9) in a Division IV-A wild card game.
All other first-round games will be Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Here’s a division-by-division look at the playoffs:
Defending champion: Playa del Rey St. Bernard.
Top teams: St. Bernard (18-7); Agoura Oak Park (18-6); Big Bear Lake Big Bear (19-6); Twentynine Palms (19-8).
Dark horse: Pasadena Marshall (17-6). The 62-year-old school won its first boys’ basketball league title, and five of its six losses are to teams in higher divisions.
Notes: St. Bernard got the top seeding despite losing its last two games. Last year, St. Bernard made the playoffs as a wild-card team and defeated El Segundo, Lancaster Paraclete, Oak Park, Twentynine Palms and Los Angeles Cathedral to win the championship. . . . Laguna Beach is the only county team in this division. The Artists travel to Los Angeles Murphy. Chris Sirianni, the lone returning starter for Laguna Beach, is among the county leaders in rebounds (7.0) and assists (6.1). Guard B.J. Jameson (.421) is a three-point threat. . . . Marshall has a terrific senior guard in Ryan Williams, who averages 26 points. But his poor grades have scared away college recruiters.