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Southern Section’s “Big 4” in Riverside Saturday

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Ca. –  The top four teams in the updated BurlisonOnBasketball SoCal Top 10 Plus 15 will be in the same building Saturday evening.

Unbeaten and top-ranked will face No. 3 Sierra Canyon while No. 2 Etiwanda hooks up with No. 4 Mater Dei at Cal Baptist University in Riverside during the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division championship semifinals.

And, roughly 60 miles to the northwest of CBU, the L.A. City will be holding its Open championship semifinals when No. 6 Westchester faces Granada Hills (an upset winner at Narbonne Saturday night) and No.’s 11 and 17 – Fairfax and Taft – play in the other contest.

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Comets move to Open semis despite Brinson injury

LOS ANGELES – The “next man up” approach was in full effect Saturday night at Westchester High during the first-round L.A. City Open Division playoff game between defending champion Birmingham and the host Comets.

Six-foot-three junior Jordan Brinson – arguably Westchester’s best all-around player – stood with his back against a wall behind the basket as his teammates warmed up 20 minutes before the 7 o’clock scheduled tip-off.

He wasn’t in uniform and – even if he decides to put on a uniform – he won’t be playing for the Comets during their trek for a City crown and deep run into the State Open Division tournament.

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Shackelford heats up late to help Hesperia to quarters

DIAMOND BAR, Ca. – Six-foot-three junior Jaden Shackelford came into the Friday night CIF Southern Section 2A second-round playoff game at Diamond Ranch High averaging about 23 points during the 13 games he had played since becoming eligible for the Hesperia Scorpions on Jan. 2.

The left hander missed five of the seven shots he attempted while scoring just four points in the first half against the host the Panthers.

But teammates Ken Evans and Antonio Singleton combined for 17 points to keep the Scorpions up by a point at intermission – after which Shackelford finally freeing himself from the face-guarding defense of the hosts’ Garrett Parker and pulled away for a 66-59 victory.

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Classic at Damien well-repped in high playoff seeds

LA VERNE, Ca. – The second Classic at Damien was the best post-Christmas high school basketball tournament in the western U.S.

Here are some of the reasons why, courtesy the CIF Southern and L.A. City Section playoff brackets:

*Four of the programs that participated in the 16-team Platinum Bracket (champion Etiwanda, along with third-place Santa Margarita, fourth-place St. John Bosco and consolation champion Rancho Christian) were selected to the Southern Section’s eight-team Open Division bracket.

Two other Platinum squads, Birmingham and Taft, are in the eight-team L.A.

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Mary Star hoopers earn long second-round bus ride

SAN PEDRO – A first-round victory in the CIF Southern Section 4A playoffs Wednesday night earned the Mary Star of the Sea boys’ basketball team a two-hour, 93-mile bus ride to the California High Desert Friday.

The Stars outlasted Newport Beach’s Sage Hill, 70-60, behind a 30-point performance from 6-foot-4 junior Joseph Octave, to improve to 23-5.

Coach Mike Sestich’s squad will make the Friday trip to Phelan to place the host Serrano High Diamondbacks, who knocked off Jurupa Hills Wednesday night, 81-59.

The Stars burst to a 6-0 advantage against Sage Hill (which was to drop to 10-17), Octave scoring four of those points as the result of two of his eventual nine steals.

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Here is how a 16-team SS Open field might look

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Ca. – The CIF Southern Section’s eight-team Open Division playoff bracket was unveiled Saturday at the section’s office in Los Alamitos.

During the first four seasons of the Open Division, a 16-team bracket was employed.

The change to an eight-team field was made, in very large part, to increase the strength of Division I (which was strengthened even more so in that it was consolidated from I-AA and I-A brackets).

Are you curious how the 2018 Open field might have presented itself in its previous 16-team parameter?

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Taj Regans has big second half to push Crespi to 25-2

STUDIO CITY, Ca. – Even with its star guard on the bench all of the second half, the Crespi High boys’ basketball team took care of the last of its Mission League and regular-season business Friday night at Harvard-Westlake.

The Celtics wrapped of the league portion of its schedule at 12-0 with its 72-63 victory over the host Wolverines in front of a full house.

Coach Russell White’s team will take a 25-2 overall record mark and 14-game winning streak into the Feb. 17 first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

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League closes for CIF Southern, L.A. City sections

LAGUNA NIGUEL – League play wraps up this week in the CIF Southern and Los Angeles City sections, while concluding next week in the San Diego Section.

The Southern Section Boys’ Open Playoff pairings will be unveiled on Saturday, as will as the all of the L.A. City pairings.

The remainder of the Southern Section divisional pairings will e released at the section’s Los Alamitos on Sunday.

Barring upsets, Bishop Montgomery and Etiwanda are expected to be first two seeds in the Southern Section’s Open Division, with Fairfax and Westchester – or vice-versa – 1-2 in the L.A.

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Monarchs close the 23rd Nike X with strong effort

SANTA ANA, Ca. – The host Mater Dei High Monarchs turned in perhaps their most impressive performance of the season Saturday night in the finale of the 23rd Nike Extravaganza in front of approximately 2,200 in the Meruelo Athletic Center.

Coach Gary McKnight’s club – rounding into form for the Feb. 16 start of the CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs – pulled away in the fourth quarter to knock off Onyeka Okongwu-led Chino Hills, 81-63, in the last of the nine games played in the building Saturday.

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“Bigs” come through for Mater Dei, Rancho Christian

SANTA ANA, Ca. – Two teams that are locks to be in the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoff bracket when it is announced on Feb. 10 pretty much looked the part Friday during the 23rd Nike Extravaganza in Mater Dei High’s Meruelo Athletic Center.

The host Monarchs, in the last of five games Friday (including the Monarchs’ girls’ victory against Esperanza), improved to 17-6 with their 67-55 decision over Heritage Christian from Northridge.

And, in the second game played Friday, Rancho Christian ran its record to 24-2 with a 64-39 victory against JSerra.

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Meet Frank
Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a well-regarded basketball writer who was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. His opinions on the potential of high school and college players are widely respected and sought by college coaches and NBA scouts, personnel directors and general managers from coast to coast. Oh, yes – he can offer plenty of thoughts on movies, television and pop music. Yes, he can rank those, too. Hint: He’s a big The Godfather, Larry Sanders, The Wire and The Beatles loyalist.

To learn more about Frank's scouting services, click here.

Endorsements

“I’ve known Frank since he was a student at Long Beach State and no writer ever worked harder at studying and understanding basketball. When I was coaching I always put more stock into what he said about (high school) players than anyone I knew. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best there is at evaluating the potential of basketball players.”
Lute Olson, Hall of Fame and NCAA Championship Winning Coach

"I have known Frank for 15 years and there is no one outside of those in the Clippers' organization that I trust more than Frank when it comes to player evaluations."
Neil Olshey, Los Angeles Clippers' Vice President of Basketball Operations

“Frank Burlison has always been a proponent of my talent and, even more so, of my potential – far before it was evident to most. Even as a smaller and determined player who was being overlooked by most high-major colleges and national scouting services, Frank always served as a friendly voice who got me into the door to most events to help me prove my talents.”
Russell Westbrook, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft out of UCLA and an all-star guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder

To see what other people in basketball are saying about Frank, click here.

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