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Seahawks Have the Toughest Road

Second-seeded Ocean View faces the hardest test among the three Orange County boys’ basketball teams tonight when the Seahawks meet third-seeded Lakewood Mayfair in a Southern Section Division II-A semifinal game at Bellflower High.

The Monsoons (25-4) are defending division champions and thumped Fullerton and Bolsa Grande en route to tonight’s game. Mayfair features a balanced attack led by swingman Josh Childress, who scored 20 points against Bolsa Grande.

Ocean View (28-2), meanwhile, is looking to reach its first championship game since 1998, when it won the Division III-AA title.

The Seahawks will rely on a balanced cast of guards, including Marques Crane and Torin Beeler, to get the job done.

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But Beeler will have to play better than he did last Friday against Magnolia. A midseason transfer from Calvary Chapel, Beeler made three of seven field goals, missed all three of his free throws and had four turnovers in Ocean View’s 52-41 victory.

Top-seeded Mater Dei (29-2) faces San Bernardino Pacific in a Division I-A semifinal.

The Pirates (27-2) did rout third-seeded Santa Barbara, 72-54, in a quarterfinal game. But it shouldn’t matter given the way Mater Dei center Jamal Sampson and guard Cedric Bozeman have been playing, helping the Monarchs win their first three playoff games by an average of 42 points.

Surprising Brea Olinda plays third-seeded Inglewood at Valencia High in a game matching two guard-dominated teams.

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Inglewood is still celebrating Friday’s 43-42 victory over Santa Margarita, which was made possible by reserve guard Ed McKinney’s late three-pointer.

Brea (23-6), which topped second-seeded Temecula Chaparral by 13 points in a quarterfinal game, should have a slight edge in depth. Brea uses eight or nine players but Inglewood (25-4) gives only two reserves significant minutes.

“I like our chances,” Brea Coach Bob Terry said. “We’re playing well right now.”

Orange Lutheran and Heritage Christian have already advanced to championship games and clinched spots in next week’s state playoffs. Although Corona del Mar lost in last week’s Division III-AA semifinals, the Sea Kings still qualified for the state tournament.

Top-seeded Orange Lutheran (24-4) will face second-seeded Santa Monica Crossroads in the Division IV-A final at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pond.

Second-seeded Heritage Christian (24-4) will battle top-seeded Los Angeles Price (28-1) for the Division V-A championship at 4:45 p.m. Friday at Loyola Marymount.

THE JURY’S OUT

Southern Section officials have not decided whether they will scrap the new rule that allowed any team with 10 victories this season to petition for a playoff berth, section spokesman Thom Simmons said.

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The rule enabled 17 Orange County teams that otherwise would not have qualified for the playoffs to participate, though only two teams, Century and Servite, made it as far as the second round.

Section officials will review the rule’s effectiveness at the conclusion of the season before reaching a decision, Simmons said.

COACHING VACANCY

As expected, Richard Smith will not return to coach Los Alamitos next season. He was appointed interim coach late last fall when longtime Griffin Coach Steve Brooks was fired over allegations that he mishandled funds.

Smith told Los Alamitos Athletic Director Rob Wigod that he was not interested in taking the job permanently because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Los Alamitos went on to share the Sunset League title with Marina and finished 22-6, losing to Long Beach Jordan in the third round of the Division I-AA playoffs.

Staff writer Paul McLeod contributed to this report.

If you have an item or idea for the boys’ prep basketball report, you can fax us at (714)966-5663 or e-mail us at ben.bolch@latimes.com or paul.mcleod@latimes.com

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