Playoffs taking shape

GLENDALE — Getting a high seed and subsequent first-round bye in the CIF Southern Section playoff pairings that were released on Sunday was a refreshing departure from the recent past for two of the area’s postseason-bound boys’ basketball teams.

For the Flintridge Prep Rebels, seeded fifth in Division IV-A, just being back in the playoffs was a welcome change following a one-year hiatus in 2006-07.

Renaissance Academy, the top seed in Division III-A, has enjoyed a high seed in the playoffs for several years running. Last year, however, the Wildcats were forced to not only play in the first round, but do so on the road.

“I think CIF finally realized it didn’t look good for us to be out on the road in the first round [last year],” said Renaissance Coach Sid Cooke, whose team came one game short of a title in Division III-A last year. “We’re right where we should be.”

The first playoff game of the year for the Wildcats (22-2) will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, when they will host the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Santa Fe and Estancia.

Renaissance defeated 15th-seeded Santa Fe (18-10), 67-54, in the quarterfinal round last season.

The Prep League champon Rebels (20-4) will also make their playoff debut on Friday night, in a 7:30 p.m. home tipoff against the winner of Wednesday’s St. Paul-Whittier Christian game.

“We had seen the polls all this year and figured we were at [a] five [seed],” Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. “We figured that at least three or four teams would get byes, and that five teams got can’t complain — you’re in the second round already.”

In the Pacific League, no fewer than six teams will make Division II-AA playoff appearances this year, including Hoover, Crescenta Valley and Glendale highs.

The Tornadoes (15-11) finished third in league — the best showing of the three locals — but have a tough first-round draw facing them at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.

Unseeded Hoover must travel to Bonita (24-3), the Division’s eighth seed.

“They have size and they have guards that can play, so it’s gonna be a nice uphill climb for us,” first-year Hoover Coach Henrik Sardarbegian said.

If Crescenta Valley and Glendale are to join Hoover in first-round action on Friday, both squads must first pass wild-card tests on Wednesday.

In a pair of 7:30 p.m. contests, the Falcons host a Miramonte League at-large team, Los Altos (16-8), while the Nitros welcome Troy (14-13), an at-large entry from the Freeway League.

“Any time you get a home game in the playoffs, it’s really exciting,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian, whose team took fourth place in league.

Glendale finished out of the top four in league, but qualified as an at-large team.

“[Playing at home] will make it fun,” Glendale Coach Steve Snodgress said. “Playoffs are playoffs — it’s fun no matter where you play — but we’re excited to have a home game.

“In the past, [Troy] has always been a good basketball team, so I’m sure we’ll find out good things about them.”

A win for the Falcons (17-9) sets up a first-round game on Friday at 11th-seeded Valencia, the Foothill League champion.

Glendale (13-13) will advance to a Friday game at top-seeded Citrus Belt champion Eisenhower should it get past Troy.

 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at

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