As I made my way through the seemingly endless amount of teams and divisions in the Southern Section playoff picture a pattern started to appear.
The deeper I dug the more I realized that the names of schools got much longer and more confusing as the division numbers rose.
Additionally, once I got through predicting Division 5A, I knew it was time to stop as it became apparent that my knowledge of said teams appeared to dwindle rapidly.
At any rate, here’s a brief capsule of my thoughts on each CIF-SS playoff division from the Open Division down to the long/confusing-named Division 5A, complete with picks of every single game in bracket form…… I know what you’re thinking, and it’s true, I have no life.
Predicted champion: Chino Hills
Why? Two Reasons: 1. Lonzo Ball, 2. Because nobody has proven otherwise.
Runners’ up: Torrance Bishop Montgomery.
Final four: Chino Hills, Bishop Montgomery, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, Santa Ana Mater Dei
Predicted champion: Santa Monica
Why? Because the Vikings have one of the best pure scorers around in Jonah Mathews.
Runners’ up: Walnut
Final four: Santa Monica, Walnut, Santa Ana Foothill, Beaumont
Predicted champion: Long Beach Poly
Why? Because Zafir Williams is really good and I’m banking on Drew Buggs having a significant impact.
Runners’ up: J.W. North
Final four: Long Beach Poly, J.W. North, Village Christian, Etiwanda
Predicted champion: La Mirada
Why? Because Princeton-bound small forward Vittorio Reynoso-Avila is back.
Runners’ up: Lynwood
Final four: La Mirada, Lynwood, Santa Barbara, Hart
Predicted champion: Ayala
Why? Because the Bulldogs are a really good team (!) and should’ve been in the Open.
Runners’ up: West Ranch
Final four: Ayala, West Ranch, Tesoro, Loyola
Full bracket (Yes, I messed up the Division on this one):
Predicted champion: Diamond Ranch
Why? D-Ranch looks to be the best team - roster and resume - in this division.
Runners’ up: Rancho Mirage
Final four: Diamond Ranch, Rancho Mirage, Chaminade, Lompoc Cabrillo
Predicted champion: Oak Park
Why? Riley Battin’s footwork, that’s why.
Runners’ up: Calabasas
Final four: Oak Park, Calabasas, Esperanza, Dominguez
Predicted champion: Maranatha
Why? I’m rolling the dice on Trevor Stanback’s size dominating the division.
Runners’ up: Viewpoint
Final four: Maranatha, Viewpoint, Campbell Hall, Crean Lutheran
Predicted champion: La Canada
Why? Because that team is splendid and its win over La Verne Damien was huge.
Runners’ up: Harvard-Westlake
Final four: La Canada, Harvard-Westlake, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, JSerra
Predicted champion: Temecula Rancho Christian
Why? Because I like the make-up of that squad.
Runners’ up: St. Bernard
Final four: Rancho Christian, St. Bernard, Capistrano Valley Christian, Shalhevet
Oh, right, here’s the updated SoCal Top 20, as well:
1. Chino Hills (27-0 / No. 1)
Observation: The Huskies made it through the regular season unscathed and now take “Run GMZ” into the Open Division playoffs.
Playoff opener: No. 1-seed Chino Hills hosts 16-seed Santa Margarita Friday.
2. Torrance Bishop Montgomery (24-1 / No. 2)
Observation: The lone loss on the schedule for the Knights came to No. 1 Chino Hills.
Playoff opener: Bishop Montgomery earned the two-seed in the Open and host 15-seed Orange Lutheran Friday.
3. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (23-3 / No. 3)
Observation: The Trailblazers wrapped up the Gold Coast League title with a 30-point beat-down of L.A. Windward.
Playoff opener: Sierra Canyon is the Open’s three-seed and will host 14-seed Los Alamitos Friday.
4. Santa Ana Mater Dei (25-3 / No. 5)
Observation: The Monarchs slid to No. 5 in the last SoCal Top 20 in favor of Foothills Christian and then proceeded to blow Foothills out at the Nike Extravaganza. So, Mater Dei is back at four.
Playoff opener: Mater Dei is the four-seed in the Open and host Cantwell-Sacred Heart Friday.
5. El Cajon Foothills Christian (19-4 / No. 4)
Observation: The Knights are still the best team in San Diego and only dropped one spot after an uninspired performance at Nike Extravaganza.
Next up: Foothills has two league games remaining before entering the San Diego Section Open Division as a (likely) one-seed. The Knights will be at La Jolla Bishops and Carlsbad Army-Navy this week.
6. Redondo Union (21-4 / No. 7)
Observation: I like the fact that the Sea Hawks went and won some random game in Canada just before they begin the Open Division. That’s why they’re back to No. 6.
Playoff opener: Redondo will host Eastvale Roosevelt Friday in what is one of the more intriguing first round games in the Open.
7. La Verne Damien (24-3 / No. 6)
Observation: The Spartans wrapped up the No. 2 spot in the Baseline League behind Chino Hills (who else?).
Playoff opener: Damien and Crespi will face off in La Verne Friday. This is another match-up that looks as if it will come down to the wire.
8. Corona Centennial (21-6 / No. 9)
Observation: The Huskies avenged a Big VIII League loss to Roosevelt to secure a share of the title. Centennial also picked up a nice win over Concord De La Salle at the Nike Extravaganza.
Playoff opener: The Huskies were seeded at No. 5 in the Open Division and will host 12-seed Compton Friday.
9. Encino Crespi (24-3 / No. 8)
Observation: The Celts lost to Alemany in the second-to-last game of their Mission League slate, allowing the Warriors to take the outright league title.
Playoff opener: Crespi, as mentioned above, will be on the road at Damien in the first round of the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs.
10. Santa Monica (24-2 / No. 10)
Observation: The Vikings won an Ocean League championship, but couldn’t win over CIF. SaMo was left out of the Open Division field, but should have a smooth path toward a Division 1A title.
Playoff opener: Santa Monica will host Long Beach Cabrillo Friday in the opening round of the Division 1A playoffs.
11. Los Angeles Fairfax (27-3 / No. 13)
Observation: A Western League win over Westchester - which resulted in a share of the league championship - and a win over Los Alamitos at Nike X helped Fax rise to No. 11.
Playoff opener: The Lions will open the L.A. City Section Open Division playoffs Saturday with a home game against L.A. Washington Prep.
12. Los Angeles Westchester (23-6 / No. 12)
Observation: Westchester split its season series with Fairfax and head into the L.A. City Section Open Division playoffs as the No. 1-seed.
Playoff opener: The Comets open the City Open Saturday at home against Woodland Hills El Camino Real.
13. Chino Hills Ayala (24-3 / No. 11)
Observation: An overtime loss to Bonita in the final game of Palomares League play kept Ayala out of the Open Division. I still contend the Bulldogs should have been in and seeded anywhere from eight to 11.
Playoff opener: Ayala surely doesn’t mind not being an Open team, though, as it begins its certain (?) tear through Division 2AA at home Friday against Redlands.
14. Los Alamitos (23-4 / No. 15)
Observation: The Griffins completed a perfect run through the Sunset League with a drubbing of my lowly alma mater Marina. The reward for such a great season? A trip to Chatsworth to take on Sierra Canyon. But hey, Los Alamitos is the first Orange County public school to make the Open. That’s something to hang your hat on, right?
Playoff opener: The Griffins will head up the 405 to the 118 or the 605 to the 5 to the 118 or the 605 to the 5 to the 101 to the 118 to get to Sierra Canyon. Whichever route Waze takes the bus driver. I also heard from a good source (the star PG) that there will be plenty of Los Al fans up that way.
15. San Diego Cathedral Catholic (17-5 / No. 18)
Observation: The Dons earned a big win over St. Augustine last week, sweeping that rivalry series. They also lost to Mission Bay two days later thanks to 35 points from Tulane-bound PG Justin Moore.
Next up: Cathedral Catholic has one more Western League game left on Friday against Lincoln. If the Dons are able to win that game, they’ll likely be the two-seed behind Foothills Christian in San Diego’s Open Division.
16. Harbor City Narbonne (21-6 / No. 19)
Observation: The Gauchos were perfect throughout Marine League play and are the two-seed in the L.A. City Section Open Division playoffs.
Playoff opener: Narbonne is at home Saturday in a first round match-up against Lake Balboa Birmingham.
17. Eastvale Roosevelt (21-6 / No. 20)
Observation: The Mustangs finished tied atop the Big VIII League with Corona Centennial.
Playoff opener: Roosevelt, the 11-seed in the Open, will be on the road at Redondo Union Friday.
18. Inglewood (20-6 / No. 17)
Observation: The Sentinels finished second in the Bay League behind Redondo Union.
Playoff opener: Inglewood earned a nine-seed in the Southern Section Open has an intriguing road game against Mission Hills Alemany Friday.
19. Mission Hills Alemany (21-6 / No. 24)
Observation: Point guard Shac Dawkins sunk Crespi with a late 3-pointer to help the Warriors to the Mission League title.
Playoff opener: Alemany hosts Inglewood Friday in the first round of the CIF-SS Open Division playoffs.
20. Woodland Hills Taft (22-5 / No. 23)
Observation: The Toreadors took the West Valley League championship with a 10-0 record.
Playoff opener: Taft is the five-seed in the City Section Open and will be on the road Saturday against L.A. Dorsey.
21-25: 21. San Diego St. Augustine (20-5); 22. La Canada (24-3); 23. Orange Lutheran (21-6); 24. Compton (18-8); 25. Long Beach Poly (17-9)