Boys BB Regional Finals Previews

Posted on March 15, 2013 by

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One more win by both Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Sheldon of Sacramento will advance those teams to the first CIF Open Division state final. The two teams played last year in the Div. I state final. Photo: Willie Eashman.

One more win by both Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Sheldon of Sacramento will advance those teams to the first CIF Open Division state final. The two teams played last year in the D1state final. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Sacramento Sheldon vs. Archbishop Mitty plus Mater Dei vs. Etiwanda will tip on Saturday to see which two will play each other in the first CIF Open Division state championship game. Go inside for breakdowns and favorites in all divisions.

By Mark Tennis
Contributing: Ronnie Flores

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Saturday’s regional championships in boys basketball will be highlighted by the 8 p.m. open division showdowns at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento and Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

The Northern California games at Sleep Train Arena also will include matchups in Division I and Division II. The same divisional finals also will be played in Southern California in Ontario.

For the first time, regional finals in Division III will be played at the smaller venue instead of the arena. In the North, those games (and those for Division IV and Division V) will be at new American Canyon High (near Napa). In the south, they’ll be played at Colony High of Ontario.

Saturday’s CIF Northern California championships at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento:

Boys Open Division
Sheldon (Sacramento) 27-5 vs. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 28-5

Both teams won NorCal titles last year – Sheldon in D1 and Mitty in D2 – and will meet this season to decide which will play for the first open division state crown. Mitty won earlier this season over the Huskies 71-65, but that was when the Sacramento team clearly wasn’t at full strength due to injury and a key player – Washington-bound Darin Johnson – not yet being eligible. Even if 2012 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Aaron Gordon has a huge game for Mitty, it may not be enough against Sheldon’s home crowd and superior depth.

Boys Division I
Deer Valley (Antioch) 24-5 vs. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 26-6

Deer Valley’s closer than expected win over Bellarmine of San Jose on Tuesday night and Pleasant Grove’s wider than expected win over De La Salle makes this a matchup too close to call. Both teams have big-time scorers in Kendall Smith (Deer Valley) and Malik Thames (Pleasant Grove) so it could be a case of Deer Valley’s 6-foot-10 Marcus Lee exerting his influence. There’s even some talk that Smith (going to UNLV) and Lee (going to Kentucky) are comparable to the best duos of any team in Bay Area history. If the Wolverines lose in this game, such talk might disappear.

Boys Division II
Dublin 26-6 vs. College Park (Pleasant Hill) 25-5

Both teams lost in the CIF North Coast Section D2 playoffs and have bounced back in the regionals. NCS D2 champ Newark Memorial, however, was moved up to the open division. Since Dublin’s loss was in the final and the Gaels have been ranked higher than the Falcons almost all season locally, they have to be considered a solid favorite.

Saturday’s CIF Southern California championships at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario:

Boys Open Division
Etiwanda 28-2 vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 32-2

This is a rematch of the CIF Southern Section Div. I-AA final won by Etiwanda 54-51. The Eagles’ defense has been amazing in the postseason and this game will be played virtually in their backyard. Lost somewhat in the controversy over Long Beach Poly’s use of an ineligible player was Mater Dei winning on Tuesday 83-63, an impressive margin to be sure. Senior Elijah Brown also stepped up with 33 points. If he can continue to complement the scoring of Stanley Johnson, watch out. With Salesian of Richmond losing on Tuesday to Sheldon, the winner of this game also will be No. 1 in the state heading into the open division state final. Another historical tidbit is that Etiwanda (or no Inland Empire team for that matter) has ever won a major division (or top division) SoCal title. Mater Dei has won 13 times with nine of those Gary McKnight-coached squads going on to win CIF state crowns.

Boys Division I
Santa Monica 28-6 vs. Loyola (Los Angeles) 25-7

This bracket so far has gone as expected and despite Santa Monica being the top seed and the CIFSS Division I-A champion Loyola should be considered the favorite. That’s because the Cubs lost in the CIFSS Division I-AA playoffs in the quarterfinals to Long Beach Poly. Several of the Cubs’ losses also came when standout junior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright was missing with an injury.

Boys Division II
J.W. North (Riverside) 31-3 vs. Redondo (Redondo Beach) 26-8

What’s great about this matchup is that both teams won CIFSS titles in different divisions. Both have been among or near the top five of the state in Division II all season and that’s with 2012 state champ Archbishop Mitty headed to the open division. The coaching matchup of Mike Bartee for the Huskies and Reggie Morris Jr. for the Seahawks also is worth writing home about. Bartee won his 600th game earlier this season while Morris Jr. has won CIF Southern Section titles at three different schools.

Saturday’s CIF Northern California championships at American Canyon High (near Napa):

Boys Division III
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 21-11 vs. Campolindo (Moraga) 21-8

Campo’s magical ride will continue up the road toward wine country after a big win Tuesday over Enterprise of Redding. The Irish, though, are the defending champs and top seed. They were only third in the West Catholic Athletic League, but the top two teams (Archbishop Mitty and San Mateo Serra) were in the NorCal open division.

Boys Division IV
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 31-3 vs. Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 20-11

With Salesian of Richmond seemingly bound for the open division almost since the start of the season, these two teams have also seemed destined to meet in this game. Cardinal Newman may have the superior record, but the Crusaders are from the loaded West Catholic Athletic League. It’s hard to gauge how many more losses the Cardinals would have playing the same schedule.

Boys Division V
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 24-11 vs. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 26-4

St. Joe will be trying to win its fourth straight regional title in this division. Capital Christian has the physical inside game that can give any D5 team fits and has athletic players on the wing as well.

Saturday’s CIF Southern California championships at Colony High (Ontario):

Boys Division III
St. Augustine (San Diego) 27-4 vs. Chaminade (West Hills) 27-7

Chaminade will try to win the same regional title that archrival Alemany claimed one year ago. To get it, though, the Eagles will have to knock off what is looking like the top overall team from San Diego this season. The Saints beat their archrivals from Cathedral Catholic on Tuesday for the second time after going 0-for-3 against the Dons earlier in the season.

Boys Division IV
Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 27-4 vs. Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 32-1

Even without Lamond Murray Jr., Bishop Montgomery put on a show in its 75-56 road win on Tuesday against Army-Navy of Carlsbad. Justin Bibbins (24 points) and Stephen Thompson Jr. (23 points) both came through with explosive nights. Pac Hills, meanwhile, won in its game 53-50 over Serra of Gardena. With defending D4 state champ Salesian of Richmond gone to the open division, this matchup seems essentially to be the one that decides the state title.

Boys Division V
Horizon Christian (San Diego) 19-11 vs. San Gabriel Academy (San Gabriel) 24-9

San Gabriel Academy’s rise from obscurity continued on Tuesday with an upset win over No. 2 seed Buckley of Sherman Oaks. In a way, though, it was good Buckley lost so the possibility of a media circus following around Buckley cheerleader Paris Jackson (the late Michael Jackson’s daughter) at the state finals is gone. Both teams won close games on Tuesday so it figures to be close again on Saturday.

Comments or corrections? Email markjtennis@gmail.com.