Underdogs take to the playoffs

For the four local girls’ basketball teams that earned playoff berths, the common theme for all of them is that of being an underdog.
Only Holy Family received a first-round home game, while Crescenta Valley, Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy — all at-large entries — will take to the road.
“It’s gonna be a big challenge for us,” said Gaels Coach Ernest Siy, whose Holy Family squad will host 12th-seeded Bishop Diego on Thursday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs.
Siy said the game will either take place at Providence High or Bishop Conaty.
“I wasn’t expecting a home game,” said Siy, whose team is 5-18.
The Gaels took second in the Horizon League, while Bishop Diego (9-17) is a Tri-Valley League at-large entry. The winner will play Saturday against St. Margaret’s, the fifth seed, or Saddleback Valley Christian.
Crescenta Valley, which tied for fourth place in the Pacific League, but lost a tiebreaker, enters the Division 1A playoffs as an at-large taking on Katella, the ninth seed and Orange League champion, on Saturday. Crescenta Valley is 15-11 and Katella is 19-8.
“We figured that when you finish fourth, when you’re an at-large team, you’re gonna end up playing somebody pretty good,” Falcons Coach Jason Perez said.
Should the Falcons notch the upset, they’ll play Feb. 22 against Trabuco Hills or Downey.
“We’ve won three of our last four beating some pretty good teams,” Perez said. “The last two weeks we’ve been playing fairly well, we’ve been playing some good basketball.
“The girls are confident they can beat anybody they play.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart, an at-large out of the Mission League, will take on fifth-seeded Muir, the Pacific League champion, on Thursday in the first round of the Division 4AA playoffs. The winner will face Chadwick or St. Anthony Saturday. Flintridge Sacred Heart is 8-18 and Muir is 25-3.
Sacred Heart will only have to travel about two miles to meet Muir, something that pleased Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Gino Pacella.
“It’s nice to get a team that’s close by and it will be great for the community,” Pacella said. “I thought maybe CIF would keep us close because these pairings are tough.
“We’ve had our issues as a team, but we are playing now the way I [would have] liked us to have played in the beginning of the season.”
Flintridge Prep (7-17) also received an at-large out of the Prep League and will face eighth-seeded St. Genevieve (16-5), the third-place finisher out of the Santa Cruz League, on Thursday in the Division 5AA playoffs. The winner will face either Aquinas or Bishop Union.
The Rebels and Valiants have played several common opponents in Holy Family, L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus and Pilibos. They both participated in the Pioneer Shootout at Providence High in December, though Flintridge Prep Coach Todd Frost did not see St. Genevieve compete.
“We are still doing research on them and we are doing our best to know more about them,” said Frost, whose team completed the regular season with a five-game losing streak. “We’ve grown as a team these last couple of weeks and we’ve lost a few close games.
“We will need to step up our intensity level.”

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