By Mark Tennis
Contributing: Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens
One night after Etiwanda High’s boys basketball team beat Long Beach Poly, the No. 1 team in the state, the Eagles’ girls hooked an even bigger fish in the upset pond with a 73-72 overtime triumph over Mater Dei of Santa Ana, three-time defending champions in the CIF Southern Section’s top division and pretty much the consensus No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
Etiwanda advanced to the CIFSS Division IAA championship game against Santiago of Corona, a team the Eagles have a win against from earlier in the season. Due to that win and also because of the win against the Monarchs, Etiwanda has been placed No. 1 in this week’s new Division I state rankings.
Here’s the kicker, however. For the new CIF Southern California Open Division playoffs, Etiwanda does not meet the criteria for the CIF to pull up the team into that bracket. The school would need to request it and after beating Mater Dei that’s what one would expect.
“That’s tough,” Eagles head coach Anders Anderson told Harold Abend of Cal-Hi Sports on Thursday. “At this point, the competitiveness in me as a coach wants to go to the Open Division, but our kids are young and we’re trying to establish a foundation to build on. I wouldn’t want that foundation to be spoiled by my desires as a coach, so we would most likely just stay in our division.”
But maybe there’s still hope. What if the Eagles topple the Sharks on Friday night at the Anaheim Arena?
“We would gain consideration because of the win,” remarked Anderson, who when pressed conceded. “If we beat Santiago, I’ll see what the girls want to do.”
Etiwanda’s win also is significant because it ruins what could have been a huge SoCal Open Division final between Mater Dei and Windward of Los Angeles. Windward (30-0) won in its game on Wednesday 85-57 over Serra of Gardena to claim the CIFSS Division IV-AA title. With Mater Dei losing and Windward being eligible for the open division, it’s pretty obvious that the Wildcats will now be seeded No. 1 for that bracket in the south and may end up having to play Mater Dei before the finals.
The top-ranked teams by division heading into Thursday’s games of this week are Etiwanda (D1), Carondelet (D2), Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (D3), Windward (D4) and Brookside Christian of Stockton (D5).
All teams have been ranked by Cal-Hi Sports according to their CIF divisions, but some will obviously be pulled up into the new CIF Open Division for the Northern California and Southern California regional playoffs. We have indicated which teams in which divisions are eligible for the Open Division so readers can then visualize which non-Open Division teams may end up battling it out for the various CIF divisional state titles.
As with the boys, we have listed more teams that are eligible for the open division than in previous weeks. This is due to the confusing manner in which the CIF wrote up its open division criteria as it relates to teams qualifying for the regional playoffs in three of the last four seasons. In the actual written criteria it states that teams are eligible if they qualify for the regional “championships” in three of the last four seasons, which to many, including us, meant playing in a regional championship game. The correct interpretation of this criteria, however, is that teams are eligible if they simply qualify for the regional playoffs. Even getting into one regional playoff game (in any division) is enough.
(After results of Wednesday, Feb. 27 with some scores from early this week indicated)
1. (6) Etiwanda 27-2
2. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 28-1
3. (2) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 27-2
4. (3) Santiago (Corona) 28-2
5. (4) Troy (Fullerton) 25-4
6. (5) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 24-5
7. (7) Millikan (Long Beach) 26-4
8. (10) Heritage (Brentwood) 24-4
9. (12) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 25-3*
10. (8) Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 25-3
11. (NR) Stockdale (Bakersfield) 24-4
12. (11) Centennial (Corona) 23-5
13. (15) Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 19-9
14. (NR) Clovis West (Fresno) 22-5
15. (NR) Narbonne (Harbor City) 22-8
Dropped Out: Previous No. 9 Hanford, No. 13 Vista Murrieta (Murrieta), No. 14 Wilcox (Santa Clara).
Eligible for Open Division: Mater Dei, Stockton St. Mary’s, Santiago, Troy, Long Beach Poly, Stockdale, Berkeley, Hanford, Sacramento Kennedy, Harbor City Narbonne.
Teams on the Bubble: A.B. Miller (Fontana) 23-5, Berkeley 18-11, Bishop Amat (La Puente) 23-8, Deer Valley (Antioch) 17-10, Granite Hills (El Cajon) 24-6, Great Oak (Temecula) 18-7, Hanford 23-5, Kennedy (Sacramento) 23-5, McClymonds (Oakland) 24-3, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 25-6, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 23-3.
Notes & Highlights: Friday night’s Etiwanda vs. Santiago matchup in the CIFSS Division I-AA final is the first time ever that two Inland Empire schools have faced off in the section’s highest girls basketball division. Santiago did its part to set up the showdown by topping Troy of Fullerton 53-41 in a Tuesday semifinal. The winner would move up to No. 1 in this division for next week and probably would be seeded second in the new CIF SoCal Open Division playoffs (that is depending upon Etiwanda petitioning to move up). Other than Etiwanda, the best teams in this division that are not eligible for the open division seem to be Long Beach Millikan and Heritage of Brentwood. If Clovis West were to beat Stockdale in the Central Section Division I final, the Golden Eagles might be a team to watch in that D1 state bracket. A Stockdale win, on the other hand, might put the Mustangs in the open division. They’d make it on the criteria of being in the regional playoffs for three of the last four years (including this one).
1. (1) Carondelet (Concord) 25-3
2. (2) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 23-6
3. (3) Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 25-3
4. (5) Lynwood 22-5
5. (6) Sacramento 25-4
6. (8) J.W. North (Riverside) 21-5
7. (NR) St. Francis (Mountain View) 21-7
8. (7) Mark Keppel (Alhambra) 26-5
9. (NR) McNair (Stockton) 26-3
10. (9) Woodbridge (Irvine) 26-4
Dropped Out: Previous No. 4 Cajon (San Bernardino), No. 10 Canyon (Canyon Country).
Eligible for Open Division: Archbishop Mitty, Carondelet, Ridgeview, Lynwood, Sacramento.
Teams on the Bubble: Bonita (La Verne) 25-6, Cajon (San Bernardino) 27-1, Canyon (Canyon Country) 24-5, Clayton Valley (Concord) 22-6, Culver City 24-5, Garces (Bakersfield) 27-2, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 29-2, Lynbrook (San Jose) 21-5, Murrieta Valley (Murrieta) 25-5, Serra (San Diego) 24-6, Westchester (Los Angeles) 27-7.
Notes & Highlights: Mitty and St. Francis are playing on Saturday in the first CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship. Mitty also is eligible for the open division bracket in the north, but St. Francis is not. If St. Francis were to get the upset, it would then be interesting to see if the CIF section commissioners still choose the Monarchs for the NorCal open division. St. Francis is not eligible for the open division, but may get there soon since the Lancers are now under the direction of former State Coach of the Year Brian Harrigan (previously at Sacred Heart Cathedral). Previously undefeated Cajon of San Bernardino lost in the CIFSS Division II-AA playoffs to Bonita of La Verne 60-47 and then Bonita lost by the exact same score in the semifinals to Lynwood, which is playing J.W. North in the championship.
1. (1) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 25-3
2. (2) Miramonte (Orinda) 27-1
3. (3) Chaminade (West Hills) 27-3
4. (4) Alemany (Mission Hills) 26-5
5. (5) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 21-6
6. (6) Campolindo (Moraga) 22-5
7. (7) Enterprise (Redding) 26-1
8. (NR) Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 23-7
9. (NR) Vanden (Travis AFB) 27-3
10. (9) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 19-9
Dropped Out: Previous No. 8 Jurupa Valley, No. 10 Santa Barbara.
Eligible for Open Division: Bishop O’Dowd, Miramonte, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Campolindo, Vanden, St. Ignatius.
Teams on the Bubble: Agoura (Agoura Hills) 21-11, Burlingame 26-2, Calabasas 20-8, El Dorado (Placentia) 25-5, Gahr (Cerritos) 22-9, Jurupa Valley 27-2, Lakeside (Lake Elsinore) 24-5, Placer (Auburn) 25-6, Reseda 20-5, Santa Barbara 22-8, Selma 30-1.
Notes & Highlights: Bishop O’Dowd and Miramonte both won easily in Wednesday’s CIF North Coast Section Division III semifinals and will play for the title on Saturday. Even if O’Dowd wins comfortably, the Dragons are after all regarded as one of the top teams in the nation so to us it looks like the CIF will still grab Miramonte for the NorCal open division regardless. That could clear the path and make it much easier for either Chaminade or Alemany to eventually win the state title in this division. Neither of those two are going to be in the SoCal open division bracket, mostly due to the limit of there being just four teams allowed to be moved up from the CIF Southern Section.
1. (1) Windward (Los Angeles) 30-0
2. (2) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 28-4
3. (3) Salesian (Richmond) 26-6
4. (5) Serra (Gardena) 25-6
5. (4) JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 23-7
6. (8) St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 25-8
7. (7) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 16-11
8. (6) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 21-7
9. (10) Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 26-2
10. (NR) Bishop’s (La Jolla) 19-11
Dropped Out: Previous No. 9 Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista).
Eligible for Open Division: Windward, Berkeley St. Mary’s, La Jolla Country Day, Gardena Serra, Salesian, Bradshaw Christian, Bishop’s.
Teams on the Bubble: Argonaut (Sutter Creek) 29-1, Bear River (Lake of the Pines) 26-3, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 22-8, Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 20-6, Menlo School (Atherton) 19-9, Piedmont 21-9, Ripon 23-5, St. Anthony (Long Beach) 17-11, St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 19-11.
Notes & Highlights: The top eight teams in this division are now ranked in the exact order of their head-to-head results. This was made possible by St. Bernard of Playa del Rey topping Oaks Christian in last week’s CIFSS Division IVAA playoffs. Windward, meanwhile, had little trouble in its avenge of a triple overtime loss in the same matchup as last season, when the Wildcats trounced Serra on Wednesday in the CIFSS Division 4AA title game, 85-57. Sophomore sharpshooter Emily Surhoff made five three-pointers and led the way with 26 points. USC-bound Courtney Jaco added 20-points, highly regarded D1 junior prospect and 6-foot-1 power forward Kristen Simon had 19 points and 17 rebounds, and junior whiz Jordin Canada had 10 points nine rebounds and seven assists. Although La Jolla Country Day has close losses to both JSerra and St. Bernard, the Torreys still seem like a good candidate that the CIF will choose to move up into the open division. Not only do they have a great player in Kelsey Plum, but the commissioners can look to how competitive the girls were when they ventured north in January and lost to powerhouse St. Mary’s of Stockton and Bishop O’Dowd. If the Torreys didn’t want to be in the open division, coach Teri Bamford maybe should have had her team not try and get blown out even worse in some of those losses to top teams. Of course, that would have been silly but maybe it’s just as silly to bring up a 17-11 team into the open division. Could having both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds having byes be that bad?
1. (1) Brookside Christian (Stockton) 25-4
2. (2) Horizon (San Diego) 23-7
3. (3) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 21-9
4. (4) Eastside College Prep (E. Palo Alto) 20-8
5. (5) Valley Christian (Dublin) 29-2
6. (6) Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 20-8
7. (7) Mesa Grande Academy (Calimesa) 27-3
8. (NR) Capital Christian (Sacramento) 20-9
9. (NR) International (San Francisco) 28-3
10. (NR) Durham 22-6
Dropped Out: Previous No. 8 Desert (Edwards), No. 9 Ripon Christian, No. 10 Turlock Christian.
Eligible for Open Division: Brookside Christian, Eastside College Prep, Pinewood (extremely unlikely, though, that any Division V teams will be utilized for the open division).
Teams on the Bubble: Animo South (Los Angeles) 25-5, Central Catholic (Modesto) 17-8, Desert (Edwards) 21-2, Flintridge Prep (La Canada) 19-8, Providence (Burbank) 19-10, Ripon Christian 20-7, Turlock Christian 24-5, Urban (San Francisco) 23-7, View Park (Los Angeles) 19-10, Village Christian (Sun Valley) 18-13.
Notes & Highlights: We didn’t drop either Eastside College Prep or Pinewood at all for losing in back-to-back CCS open division contests. Assuming that no D5 teams will even be considered for the open division, the dynamics of this division to us still looks like defending champ Brookside Christian and Eastside playing for the NorCal crown and then Horizon and Sierra Canyon eventually hooking up in the south. And although Brookside is the defending state champ, both Horizon and Sierra Canyon will be stronger opponents for the Knights in a possible state final than Mission Prep from last season.
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