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: Van Nuys Montclair Prep.
Top teams: Pasadena Poly (22-0); Gardena Serra (11-14); Santa Clara (17-5); Palos Verdes Chadwick (14-11).
Dark horse: Capistrano Valley Christian (19-6). Academy League MVP Andrew Jennings (19.0) had another solid season. And with all five starters back, the Eagles are experienced and confident they won’t flop again in the first round.
Top players: Josh Del Pino (St. Margaret’s); Don Edwards (Downey Calvary Chapel); Bruce Hockless (Inglewood South Bay Lutheran); Andrew Jennings (Capistrano Valley Christian); David Mack (Southern California Christian); Robert Reeder (Pasadena Poly); Emmitt Smith (Long Beach St. Anthony).
Notes: Capistrano Valley Christian, Southern California Christian and St. Margaret’s are the county entries. All reside in Region II. . . . Capistrano Valley Christian’s first-round opponent, Inglewood South Bay Lutheran, did most of its damage in Heritage League play, where the Waves won nine of 10. Their best playeris Hockless, a 6-2 junior forward, who averages 15 points and 10 rebounds. . . . Southern California Christian has the toughest first-round assignment, against Long Beach St. Anthony. The Flames should be able to test the Saints’ defense with 6-2 senior swingman Mack (18.4, 8.4 rebounds), 6-2 senior forward Briklyn Wuich (14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds), and 6-1 senior guard Jeremy Smith (14.1 points). St. Anthony, led by 6-4 senior center Smith (16 points, 11 rebounds), went 1-4 against county teams this season. The Saints defeated Capistrano Valley Christian while losing to Magnolia, Brethren Christian, Orangewood and St. Margaret’s. . . . Speaking of the Tartans, Coach Garrett Ohara sees his team entering the playoffs on an upswing after winning five of its last six. “We were hoping for the sixth seed and we got it,” Ohara said. “I haven’t seen Downey Calvary Chapel, but we’re getting our guys healthy and we have a week to prepare.”