LOS ALAMITOS – The 16-team bracket for the fourth CIF Southern Section Division boys’ playoff field includes some obvious – and familiar – names.
The top four seeds (in order) Sierra Canyon, Chino Hills, Mater Dei and Bishop Montgomery are 4 for 4 in Open Division appearances.
Two other programs are also represented for the fourth time in the field, Corona Centennial and Redondo.
The bracket was announced at the CIF Southern Section Sunday afternoon. The teams were selected, seeded and assembled into “bracket form” Friday morning at the Southern Section office.
Full disclosure: I’m been a member of the Open Division Selection Committee since its inception.
Five of the 16 programs – Crossroads, Esperanza, Heritage Christian, JSerra and Oak Park — will be making their first Open Division appearances when the games tip off Friday night (Feb. 17).
Another interesting bit of news released by the CIF SS administration Friday is that the Feb. 24 Open semifinals will be played as a double-header in USC’s Galen Center, which seats roughly 11,000.
Among the eight first-round matchups are contests between Orange County’s No.’s 2- and 3-ranked teams (Esperanza at Santa Margarita); Long Beach Poly traveling to Alemany in hook-up of teams with respective 11- and 16-game winning streaks; and Crossroads at Mater Dei, which could present compelling frontcourt head-up battles between Ira Lee and Shareef O’Neal (the son of Shaq) of Crossroads and Justice Sueing and Bol Bol of the Monarchs.
Defending champion Chino Hills (which suffered its first defeat in two seasons on Feb. 4 to Oak Hill Academy of Virginia in the Nike Extravaganza) is the No. 2 seed and will play host to JSerra of the Trinity League.
Twenty-two players among the 16 teams signed NCAA Division I scholarship agreements in the fall – 10 of those with Pacific 12 Conference programs.
UCLA has three of the “Open signees” in Cody Riley (Sierra Canyon), LiAngelo Ball (Chino Hills) and Jalen Hill (Centennial) and another Pac 12 program, Cal, has two in Jemarl Baker of Roosevelt and Jahwan Harris-Dyson (Heritage Christian) as well as another, Sueing, who “committed” to Cal recently.
Loyola Marymount has two in Ryse Williams (Redondo) and Elizjah Scott (Chino Hills).
The complete bracket:
Northridge Heritage Christian (20-7) at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (25-1)
Corona Centennial (22-7) at La Verne Damien (25-3)
Anaheim Esperanza (25-1) at RSM Santa Margarita (20-6)
Oak Park (21-6) at Torrance Bishop Montgomery (23-2)
Santa Monica Crossroads (18-8) at Santa Ana Mater Dei (28-1)
Redondo Beach Redondo (23-4) at Eastvale Roosevelt (18-6)
Long Beach Poly (21-6) at Mission Hills Alemany (24-3)
San Juan Capistrano JSerra (17-9) at Chino Hills (27-1)
Seeding: 1. Sierra Canyon; 2. Chino Hills; 3. Mater Dei; 4. Bishop Montgomery; 5. Santa Margarita; 6. Roosevelt; 7. Alemany; 8. Damien; 9. Poly. 10. Centennial; 11. Redondo; 12. Esperanza; 13. Oak Park; 14. Crossroads; 15. JSerra; 16. Heritage Christian.
Note: Poly and Centennial flipped opponents since Centennial and Roosevelt, as the 1-2 seeds from the Big VIII League, couldn’t be on the same side of the bracket.
Feb. 17: First round, hosted by home school. Feb. 21: Second-round (alternate sites if home school gym seats fewer than 2,000. Feb. 24: Semifinals double-header at the Galen Center. March 4: Championship at the Honda Center.