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: Long Beach Jordan.
Top teams: Long Beach Poly (22-4); Los Alamitos (23-3); Upland (21-5); Chino Hills Ayala (22-4).
Dark horses: Simi Valley (21-3) and Santa Margarita (18-6). The second-seeded team in Region I, Simi Valley has had a brilliant season after barely making the I-AA playoffs as a wild card last year. Santa Margarita moves up after winning the Division II-AA title last year. The Eagles have won 11 of their last 13, with their only losses to Woodbridge.
Top players: Rafael Berumen (Simi Valley); Kenyon Coleman (Alta Loma); Drew Gaulden (Esperanza); Brad Gloger (Santa Margarita); Matt Komer (Los Alamitos); Ricky Lopez (Century); Austin Moherman (Capistrano Valley); Jason Perry (Rialto Eisenhower); Devon Rice (Long Beach Wilson); Nick Yaroma (Chino Hills Ayala).
Notes: Los Alamitos, which recorded its first unbeaten Sunset League season, may be seeded first in its region, but will have its hands full against Capistrano Valley, Santa Margarita or Esperanza and Lynwood or Jordan. “I think this [regional] is as tough as any in the playoffs,” Coach Steve Brooks said. Most of the Griffins’ hopes ride on the play of 6-7 junior postman Komer (14.2 points, 8.7 rebounds), although he has plenty of support in 6-7 senior Adam Seaton (10.0 points) an 6-3 senior guard Kevin Staniec (12.3 points). . . . Long Beach Wilson, Los Alamitos’ first-round opponent, played one other county team this season, losing to Villa Park, 48-47. Bruin Coach Quentin Brown was an assistant at Los Alamitos for six seasons, leaving in 1992 for the Wilson job. Rice (12 points, eight rebounds), a 6-5 senior forward, keys Wilson’s offense. . . . Capistrano Valley comes into the playoffs having lost four of its last six, but Coach Brian Mulligan is keeping a positive outlook. “Last year we came in having lost four of the last six, but won two games and had a good chance to go to the finals. I’d be very happy if we could do that again.” Leading Cougar scorers are Moherman (17.3) and Dan Galvanoni (17.2). Moherman also averages 6.3 rebounds. . . . Century Coach Greg Combs, whose team opens against Capistrano Valley, did his best to kill the Cougars with kindness. “They are an excellent team that shoots very well and they are taller than us,” Combs said. When appraised of the remarks, Mulligan just smiled. “All I know is Greg’s teams always play hard and always play very good defense,” Mulligan said. “Look what they did to Katella [a 29-28 victory Friday to clinch second in the Empire League].” At Century, Lopez does the scoring (16.0) while Terrail Zoller does the rebounding (11.5). . . . Gloger (17.2) leads Santa Margarita’s offense, but also critical for the Eagles will be the ability of Ryan Forehan-Kelly to stretch defenses with his three-point shooting. . . .The scary thing about Simi Valley is it’s such a young team. Berumen (23 points, 10.7 rebounds) is a sophomore, and Brett Michel (16.4) and Branduinn Fullove (16.3) are freshmen. . . . Alhambra won 16 games with only one player, 5-11 senior guard Jason Chin (10.0), averaging in double figures. . . . There won’t be much room under the basket when Alta Loma has Coleman (6-5, 275) and Antti Nikkilia (6-10, 240) are on the floor. Coleman averages 18 points and nine rebounds, and Nikkilia averages 16 points and seven rebounds.