Trio of local basketball teams advance to state tournament

After making deep postseason runs in the CIF Southern Section playoffs, three local high school basketball teams have been invited to participate in the CIF State Basketball Championships.

The Crescenta Valley boys' squad, along with the Flintridge Prep boys' and girls' teams, will participate in the prestigious tournament after each squad advanced to the Southern Section semifinals in the postseason.

All three teams will hit the road for first-round matchups Wednesday.

Crescenta Valley, which finished second in the Pacific League before reaching the CIF Southern Section Division I-A semifinals, will make its second consecutive trip to the state tournament. The 10th-seeded Falcons (23-7) will meet seventh-seeded Crenshaw (19-9) at 7 p.m. in a Division I contest.

Crenshaw finished runner-up in its L.A. City Section championship game.

"We told our guys that if you are able to get to the semifinals or finals in CIF and the first round of state, it's a tremendous accomplishment," Crescenta Valley Coach Shawn Zargarian said. "You are talking about two talented teams going up against each other with rich histories.

"Crenshaw is battle tested and very athletic. They are not a team with a lot of size, but they have a lot of quick players. We gave our guys a day or two off, but now we are refreshed and ready for this challenge."

The winner of the Crescenta Valley-Crenshaw contest will face second-seeded Clovis West or 15th-seeded Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley in a second-round title Saturday.

Like Crescenta Valley, Flintridge Prep's boys' team will have a difficult first-round test. Thirteenth-seeded Flintridge Prep will face fourth-seeded Village Christian in a Division V game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Master's College in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Flintridge Prep (22-6) and Village Christian (26-4) both fell in the Division V-AA semifinals. Village Christian won the Division V state championship last season.

"They are the defending state champions and they have a lot of returners," said Flintridge Prep Coach Garrett Ohara, whose team will make its second appearance in the state tournament in the last three seasons. "A lot of people were shocked that they lost to Buckley in the semifinals, but they have a lot of size and depth.

"It's a huge challenge for us. We have quite a few guys who have state experience and we are glad to be back there."

The winner Wednesday will play Saturday against fifth-seeded L.A. View Park or 12th-seeded The Rock Academy of San Diego.

Flintridge Prep's girls' team will have the longest commute of the three teams. The sixth-seeded Rebels (19-8) will travel to nearby Fresno to meet 11th-seeded Reedley Immanuel (20-7) at 7 p.m. in a Division V contest.

Under first-year co-coaches Kevin Kiyomura and Jayme Kiyomura-Chan, Flintridge Prep took second in the Prep League before reaching the Division V-AA semifinals. The Eagles captured the program's first CIF Central Section Division V championship.

"We are all so excited about this," Kiyomura-Chan said. "It's great that both out boys and girls team are going to state.

"With our team, it's been night and day since the summer when we took over. They have risen to the challenge, bought into the system and they have done everything that we've asked of them.

"It's about them doing all the hard work and being rewarded. They were ready to learn right away."

The winner of the Flintridge Prep-Immanuel contest will take part in a second-round game Saturday against third-seeded L.A. View Park or 14th-seeded Vincent Memorial of Calexico.

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