CdM seeking rebound

Even Coach Ryan Schachter sounds sick.

He joked that the Corona del Mar High boys' basketball team last week could not avoid the plague, which cost the team a lot. The Sea Kings lost an outright Pacific Coast League title and a No. 3 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs.

Schachter blames CdM's only two league losses, which came last week, on the cold and flu bug that hit his team.

He said he and his players feel a little better, especially after CdM just dropped two seeds in the playoffs. The downfall might have been far worse for the Sea Kings Sunday, when the section released the playoff brackets.

The Sea Kings can thank Serra of Gardena for having to forfeit 13 wins because of an ineligible player. The section left the Cavaliers off the Division III-AA playoff bracket, allowing CdM to go from a No. 6 seed to a No. 5.

Schachter had a hard time believing it. They got a No. 5 and Schachter is hoping CdM can regain its health and winning way by Wednesday.

CdM is one four local teams opening the postseason on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Sea Kings (17-9) are home in the first round against Santa Margarita (13-13).

Estancia and Costa Mesa are also playing host to first-round games, while Sage Hill hits the road.

The Eagles (16-11) play Palos Verdes (16-11) in Division IV-AA.

In Division V-AA, the Mustangs (11-15) face fourth-seeded Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo. The Lightning (14-11) go against St. Monica Catholic of Santa Monica.

Of the four area teams, CdM holds the longest current playoff appearance streak at six. Five of those are under Schachter, who before last week's collapse believed the Sea Kings had a strong shot to make a run at a section title for the second time under his watch.

The Sea Kings open with an-at large team out of the competitive Trinity League.

CdM has played one of the state's toughest schedules, facing the likes of Long Beach Poly, Taft of Woodland Hills, as well as Loyola and Westchester of Los Angeles. Schachter said the Sea Kings would not intimidate Santa Margarita.

"I was very disappointed in the draw," said Schachter, who is well aware that each of the Trinity League's six teams qualified for the playoffs, starting with Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in the state by ESPN RISE. "I feel Santa Margarita is one of the best at-large teams to make the playoffs."

Schachter still favors his team.

The Sea Kings may have more talent, with 6-foot-6 senior forward Marcus Bradley and 6-4 senior guard Danny Cheek.

Point guard Clayton Ragsdale, another key CdM senior, will have to contribute. Schachter said a viral infection that limited his production last week and left the Sea Kings sharing the league title with University.

Ragsdale started against the Trojans before sitting most of the game and watching CdM lose, 81-60, its worst league defeat under Schachter. The setback ended CdM's 19-game league winning streak.

The Sea Kings are the one local team that is primed to go the furthest in the playoffs.

Estancia is making its fourth straight playoff appearance under Coach Agustin Heredia.

The Eagles finished second in the Orange Coast League. They head into the first round against Palos Verdes — an at-large entry out of the Bay League — on a better note than last season.

Heredia is hoping a two-game winning streak bodes well for Estancia. The Eagles last season entered the postseason on a two-game skid, losses that hurt their league title hopes and confidence. Estancia went one-and-out in the playoffs, losing to Lawndale, 47-36, recording a season-low in points.

Senior Davon Joyner will try to lead Estancia to its first first-round playoff victory since 2007-08.

Bryan Rice will try to pick up his first postseason victory as Costa Mesa's coach. He leads the Mustangs back to the postseason, as they missed the 2009-10 playoffs after going 3-22.

Rice has turned things around, helping Costa Mesa place third in the Orange Coast League. Rice, who is in his third season in charge of his alma mater, likes Costa Mesa's chance of winning a playoff game for the first time in six seasons. The Mustangs will be at home for the second time in three seasons.

Costa Mesa is playing host to the game because Mission Prep is a freelance team, which the section considers a third-place team.

"If we make shots, we'll beat anybody," said Rice, who likes his team's size with 6-7, 285-pound senior Andrew Albers patrolling the paint.

"In our division, there is not a lot of size."

Sage Hill joins the Mustangs in the Division V-AA playoffs.

Sage Hill returns under Coach Jeff Beeler, who led the team to a first-round playoff victory last season against Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello. The Lightning, who shared last place in the Academy League, made the playoffs as an at-large entry.

Sage Hill has lost seven of its last eigth.

St. Monica was second in the Camino Real League. Sage will try to knock off a Camino Real League representative for the second straight postseason.

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