By Mark Tennis
Contributing: Ronnie Flores, Paul Muyskens
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After looking through all of the key results so far this season and comparing them to the criteria that will be used later on to determine which teams will be playing in the new CIF Open Division regional/state playoffs, it’s looks like there’s a very good chance that the first Southern California and Northern California Open Division brackets will be less than eight teams.
In the South, teams that would seem to be likely for the Open Division (provided they qualify for the regional round) are Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Loyola of Los Angeles, Bullard of Fresno, El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, Serra of Gardena, Price of Los Angeles and Pacific Hills of Los Angeles. Technically, defending Division V state champion Village Christian of Sun Valley also could be in the Open Division, but it’s hard to see the CIF pulling a Division V team that far up in competition unless that team has a few big-time wins on its resume. Since a few of those teams could be playing each other to win a section title and one or two others may not win a section title, it’s easy to see how hard it will be for the CIF to pull up as many as eight teams for the Open Division in the South.
In the North, teams that are headed to the Open Division if they win a section title seem to be Sheldon of Sacramento, De La Salle of Concord, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Newark Memorial of Newark, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, Modesto Christian, Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco and Salesian of Richmond. A Division V team that like Village Christian in the south that technically could be eligible for the Open Division is St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda. But again, like Village Christian, what would be the point of putting the Pilots in the Open Division to play (for example) Sheldon in the first-round?
Keep in mind that there are a number of top teams and other teams off to great starts that will not meet the criteria for being pulled up into the Open Division. In the South, the list includes Centennial of Corona, Etiwanda, J.W. North of Riverside, Hoover of San Diego, St. John Bosco of Bellflower, Chaminade of West Hills and Bishop Montgomery of Torrance. In the North, the list includes Deer Valley of Antioch, Sacramento and Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.
For this first look at California’s top boys basketball teams according to divisions, we are keeping all of the teams listed by their numbered divisions and will indicate which ones are likely Open Division teams.
(After results of Saturday, Jan 5 with some scores from early this week indicated)
1. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 12-1
2. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 16-0
3. Sheldon (Sacramento) 9-4
4. Loyola (Los Angeles) 11-2
5. Centennial (Corona) 15-1
6. Etiwanda 9-2
7. Bullard (Fresno) 12-1
8. Deer Valley (Antioch) 10-3
9. De La Salle (Concord) 11-1
10. El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 13-2
11. Santa Monica 11-4
12. Mission Viejo 15-1
13. Westchester (Los Angeles) 12-5
14. West Ranch (Valencia) 10-4
15. Alemany (Mission Hills) 10-4
Eligible for Open Division: Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Sheldon, Loyola, Bullard, De La Salle, El Camino Real. We might need a clarification on ECR, though, because its section title last year was for L.A. City Division II and this year the team would be L.A. City Division I.
Teams on the Bubble: Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-2, Central (Fresno) 11-3, El Camino (Oceanside) 12-2, Inglewood 7-5, Monte Vista (Danville) 10-3, Piedmont Hills (San Jose) 10-2, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 13-3, Santaigo (Corona) 14-3.
Notes & Highlights: Last year’s CIF Division III state champ, Alemany, and perennial power Inglewood (Paul Pierce, etc.) have been moved up to Division I within the CIF Southern Section and therefore are Division I for the state and for these rankings. In a key game already played this week, Monte Vista of Danville has defeated No. 9 De La Salle in a East Bay Athletic League matchup.
1. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 8-3
2. J.W. North (Riverside) 14-2
3. Sacramento 9-4
4. Hoover (San Diego) 14-3
5. Westlake (Westlake Village) 14-2
6. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 11-3
7. Serra (San Mateo) 10-2
8. Tesoro (Rancho Santa Margarita) 14-3
9. Newark Memorial (Newark) 6-6
10. Westview (San Diego) 12-3
Eligible for Open Division: Archbishop Mitty, La Costa Canyon, Newark Memorial.
Teams on the Bubble: Chico 12-5, Garces (Bakersfield) 9-3, Lincoln (San Diego) 6-5, Mt. Eden (Hayward) 11-1, Palo Alto 11-1, Roseville 15-2, Thousand Oaks 14-2, Villa Park 13-4, Westmoor (Daly City) 11-1.
Notes & Highlights: Mitty, the defending state champ in this division, is about as much of a lock for the Open Division as any team in the state. The Monarchs also will first have to navigate the new CIF Central Coast Section Open Division, but it looks like they qualify for the Open Division even if they were to get beat in those playoffs. In the new CCS Open Division, any team that is pulled up into it is guaranteed a berth in the Northern California regional playoffs. And since it looks like almost all of those CCS Open Division teams are going to be private schools (WCAL playoffs Part 2), the San Jose Mercury News has started its own public-school rankings list. We don’t know if that would work statewide, but for the schools in its circulation area it’s a great idea and makes a lot of sense.
1. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 10-1
2. Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 9-3
3. Chaminade (West Hills) 12-2
4. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 13-2
5. Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 15-1
6. St. Augustine (San Diego) 8-3
7. Modesto Christian 11-2
8. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 10-3
9. Hart (Newhall) 14-0
10. Tustin 16-2
Eligible for Open Division: Bishop O’Dowd, Cathedral Catholic, Modesto Christian, Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Teams on the Bubble: Calabasas 14-2, Campolindo (Moraga) 9-4, Damien (La Verne) 12-2, Drake (San Anselmo) 10-4, El Cerrito 10-5, Enterprise (Redding) 13-3, Independence (Bakersfield) 14-1, Sonora (La Habra) 15-2, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 10-2.
Notes & Highlights: These rankings do not include any results from Wednesday night, which is when St. John Bosco is playing Mater Dei. The Braves don’t make the criteria for the Open Division because they were not a section champion last season, they have not reached the regional final in three of the last four years and they were not in the final top 10 of the overall state rankings from last year. It’s also already very obvious that Division III in the state this year is vastly superior to Division II. There are several bubble teams in D3, for example, that would be ranked in the top 10 in D2.
1. Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 16-0
2. Salesian (Richmond) 10-3
3. Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 10-2
4. Brentwood (Los Angeles) 12-1
5. Serra (Gardena) 11-3
6. Army-Navy (Carlsbad) 12-3
7. Price (Los Angeles) 14-3
8. Crespi (Encino) 12-5
9. Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 9-4
10. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 12-2
Eligible for Open Division: Salesian, Pacific Hills, Gardena Serra, Price.
Teams on the Bubble: Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 10-2, Colfax 14-3, Half Moon Bay 11-1, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 9-4, La Verne Lutheran 14-6, Palma (Salinas) 9-1, Riverbank 13-1, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 9-4, St. Joseph (Santa Maria) 11-4, Washington (Easton) 11-6, Windward (Los Angeles) 7-6.
Notes & Highlights: Bishop Montgomery has a long tradition of success at the state level, but despite that does not meet the criteria for the Open Division because of how the team did in the playoffs the last two seasons. This division statewide is dominated by teams from the CIF Southern Section, but not as much as from Division 4AA last year. Pacific Hills and Brentwood this year, for example, are from the CIFSS D4A grouping. Salesian, last year’s D4 state champ, remains a heavy favorite to win another CIF North Coast Section title and would then jump to the Open Division. With Salesian gone, the NorCal race in D4 then becomes much more wide open.
1. Village Christian (Sun Valley) 14-2
2. St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 9-5
3. Central Catholic (Modesto) 15-2
4. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 11-2
5. Bentley (Lafayette) 14-0
6. Flintridge Prep (La Canada) 7-5
7. Buckley (Sherman Oaks) 13-5
8. Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach) 10-3
9. Brookside Christian (Stockton) 15-1
10. Rock Academy (San Diego) 5-5
Eligible for Open Division: Village Christian, St. Joseph Notre Dame (though it’s unlikely that either would get chosen for that much of a jump in competition)
Teams on the Bubble: Alma Heights Christian (Pacifica) 9-1, Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 6-9, Ripon Christian 10-3, San Gabriel Academy 5-6, Tri-City Christian (Vista) 12-1, Urban (San Francisco) 12-2, View Park (Los Angeles) 12-8, Weed 12-2.
Notes & Highlights: We did cheat a little in this division and decided to include a win from early this week by Rock Academy of San Diego over previously unbeaten Tri-City Christian. Not including that result, Tri-City likely would have been ranked right behind 14-0 Bentley. The Sac-Joaquin Section looks especially strong in the north with Central Catholic, Capital Christian, Brookside Christian and others. Whichever teams wins that title could be a major threat to St. Joseph Notre Dame. In south, defending state champ Village Christian seems to be significantly stronger than any other team.
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