Seven best games in first round of CIF State boys basketball playoffs

March 9, 2016

The CIF State boys basketball brackets were release Sunday afternoon and the resounding theme that immediately hit the Twitterverse was that Immanuel got shafted.

That complaint is valid. Immanuel has no business driving 230 miles only to get blasted by the No. 1 team in the country, Chino Hills, which is now 31-0 after crushing its way to the Southern Section Open Division title, scoring just under 105 points per game, while beating opponents by 34.5 points per contest.

That won’t be the only bad basketball game played in the first round of the State playoffs, either. There should be plenty more blowouts up and down the Southland in the Divisions one through five on Wednesday and potentially some more in the first round of the Open on Friday.

Instead of going to see the greatest show on hardwood dismantle yet another foe, I’ve picked seven of the best games (I think) will be played in the first rounds of the Southern Regional boys basketball State Playoffs.

I haven’t updated the HoopsByUgland.com SoCal Top 20 in a while, either, so that’s below, as well.

Seven best State Playoff first round games

1. No. 5 Foothills Christian at No. 4 Mater Dei

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern Open

Surely T.J. Leaf & Co. want to make amends for a less-than-inspired performance against the Monarchs when the two met Feb. 6 at the Nike Extravaganza. Mater Dei won that tilt easily, 61-53, despite 27 points and 14 rebounds from the UCLA-bound forward. Foothills Christian hasn’t lost since that night and most recently beat Cathedral Catholic Saturday to win the CIF San Diego Section Open Division crown. The Monarchs haven’t played since they lost to Chino Hills, 102-54, in the Southern Section Open semifinals on Feb. 26.

2. No. 7 Cathedral Catholic at No. 2 Sierra Canyon

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern Open

Both Sierra Canyon (Southern) and Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) fell short in the Open Division championship games of their respective sections. The Trailblazers were manhandled by Chino Hills, 105-83, while the Dons suffered from a similar fate to Foothills Christian, 80-63. Sierra Canyon will be thrilled by not having to see the Ball Brothers & Co. draining 3-pointers from distance, but the presence of Cathedral Catholic center Brandon McCoy, who is averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, might not be such a welcoming sight. McCoy is the best 2017 big on the west coast and the Trailblazers own talented junior big man, Cody Riley, will have his hands full.

3. No. 13 Eastvale Roosevelt at No. 4 Fairfax

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern D-I

Don’t let the seedings fool you, anything can happen when you can shoot the three-ball like Roosevelt can. Junior shooting guard, Cal-commit and 3-point marksman Jemarl Baker should have plenty of say in this match-up, but there’s no doubt Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani will have a game plan to keep or take the ball out of Baker’s hands. If that plan is successful, it will be on another talented Roosevelt junior to take the reins in Matt Mitchell. You won’t find another player who can say they play harder than the 6-foot-5 Mitchell and he has a versatile skill-set to boot. The burning question on this one? Can Fairfax score enough to keep up with Roosevelt if the Mustangs are connecting on 3s at a high clip. The Lions mustered just 11 points in the first half of their City Section Open semifinal loss to Narbonne on Feb. 27. Baker is capable of scoring more than 11 points over the first four possessions of any game.

4. No. 10 Birmingham at No. 7 Damien

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern D-I

The 7-10 match-ups are notorious for upsets in the NCAA Tournament, but will that trickle down to the high school level? In this instance, probably not, but this has all the makings of an entertaining basketball game. Damien shooting guard Bryce Peters, who will be playing in the Pac 12 at Colorado come next season, will be going head-to-head with Birmingham junior Devante Doutrive who is long, quick, athletic and skilled. I think Spartans small forward Isaiah White will be the difference in this one due to his ability to spread the floor with his 3-point shooting.

5. No. 6 Westchester at No. 3 Bishop Montgomery

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern Open

The Comets come in riding a four-game winning streak, including a City Section Open championship win over Narbonne Saturday. Bishop Montgomery is on the other end of that spectrum, falling one game shy of a rematch with Chino Hills after it lost to Sierra Canyon in the Southern Section Open semifinals. The biggest concern for Westchester coach Ed Azzam is whether his team can deal with the Knights ability to score from the perimeter. But while this might not be the most talented Westchester team, it has one thing that the Knights do not and that’s size. Keith Fisher, a certain lock for City Section Player of the Year, will have to have one of his best games of the season to get out of the first round.

6. No. 13 Santa Monica at No. 4 Washington Prep

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern D-II

This is another game pitting two teams against each other which are on opposite ends of the winning (or losing) spectrum. Santa Monica has won 24 straight games - No. 24 coming in a 66-60 victory over Temecula Valley Saturday in the CIF-SS Division IA title game - with its last defeat coming at the hands of Pasadena La Salle on Dec. 11. Washington Prep lost all three of its City Section Open Division playoff games, but played both Narbonne and Fairfax tough and beat Orange Lutheran earlier this season in the Beverly Hills tournament.

7. No. 9 Torrey Pines at No. 8 Inglewood

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Division: Southern D-I

Historically, one might think this game is a “contrast of styles.” Inglewood is uptempo, while Torrey Pines is methodical. But both of these squads have the personnel to play any style of basketball. The Sentinels are averaging 62.3 points per game this season and the Falcons 61.8. If there’s any difference it comes at the defensive end: Torrey Pines is allowing opponents to score just 44.9 points per game as opposed to Inglewood at 53.5 points allowed per contest. Both are respectable defensive statistics, but the question is can Torrey hold off Terrell Gomez, Miles James and Jordan Bell to return to "Upset City" as it did last season when it beat Long Beach Poly?

Updated SoCal Top 20:

1. Chino Hills (31-0); Next: Friday vs. Immanuel in Southern Open first round

2. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (26-4); Next: Friday vs. Cathedral Catholic in Southern Open first round

3. Torrance Bishop Montgomery (26-2); Next: Friday vs. Westchester in Southern Open first round

4. Santa Ana Mater Dei (27-4); Next: vs. Friday Foothills Christian in Southern Open first round

5. Foothills Christian (24-4); Next: Friday at Mater Dei in Southern Open first round

6. Encino Crespi (28-4); Next: Wednesday vs. L.A. Dorsey in Southern D-I first round

7. Redondo Union (24-6); Next: Wednesday vs. Fresno Clovis North in Southern D-I first round

8. L.A. Westchester (26-6); Next: Friday at Bishop Montgomery in Southern Open first round

9. Corona Centennial (23-8); Next: Wednesday vs. San Diego St. Augustine in Southern D-I first round

10. Santa Monica (29-2); Next: Wednesday at L.A. Washington Prep in Southern D-II first round

11. La Verne Damien (25-5); Next: Wednesday vs. Lake Balboa Birmingham in Southern D-I first round

12. Chino Hills Ayala (29-3); Next: Wednesday vs. Bakersfield West in Southern D-III first round

13. San Diego Cathedral Catholic (20-6); Next: Friday at Sierra Canyon in Southern Open first round

14. Harbor City Narbonne (23-7); Next: Wednesday vs. Compton in Southern D-I first round

15. L.A. Fairfax (29-4); Next: Wednesday vs. Eastvale Roosevelt in Southern D-I first round

16. Mission Hills Alemany (23-8); Next: Wednesday vs. Fresno Central in Southern D-I first round

17. Eastvale Roosevelt (21-8); Next: Wednesday at Fairfax in Southern D-I first round

18. Inglewood (21-8); Next: Wednesday vs. Torrey Pines in Southern D-I first round

19. Los Alamitos (23-6); Next: vs. Poway in Southern D-II first round

20. Oak Park (26-6); Next vs. Fresno San Joaquin Memorial in Southern D-III first round.

 

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