Posted On: 02/25/18 11:01 PM
There haven’t been two many surprises after the first two rounds of play in the CIF Division 1 playoffs.
The top two seeds, El Camino and Santa Fe Christian, are still standing. The three and four seeds, however, have fallen. Canyon Crest fell to sixth-seeded Mission Hills in overtime and fifth-seeded Orange Glen overwhelmed Poway, the four seed.
Who will advance to Friday’s championship game at Viejas Arena? Prep Hoops takes a look at the seminfinals field:
How they got here: El Camino defeated (16) Army Navy (78-59) and (9) Cathedral Catholic (51-47). Orange Glen defeated (12) Grossmont (74-58) and (4) Poway 69-49.
Starters for El Camino: Jalen Flanagan, Antonio Hale III, G; G; Brad Yasukochi, G; RJ Davis, G; Deaunda McNair, F
Starters for Orange Glen: Damien Miller, G; Angel Nieves, G; Adam Nieves, F; Andres Tovar, G; Caedon Palmer, F
The skinny: The top-seeded Wildcats and fifth-seeded Patriots are virtual mirror images. To call both teams undersized would be a gross understatement: The tallest starter on either team is 6-4 Orange Glen forward Caedon Palmer, known more for his shooting stroke than his interior prowess. Both teams are above average defensively, especially on the perimeter, and both teams rely heavily on their back courts, each led by a singular talent. For El Camino, it’s 6-3 combo guard Jalen Flanagan, who leads the team in scoring (23 ppg), rebounding (8 rpg) and assists (4 apg). At 5-9, Orange Glen point guard Damien Miller (pictured) leads his team in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounding (9.2 rpg) and assists (9.3 apg), and leads the county in triple doubles (6), an incredible feat. These two played together during the spring and summer as part of Coastal Elite’s 17u Elite team last year.
Orange Glen lives and dies by its three-point shooting, which is set up by Miller’s dribble penetration. Five Patriots have hit more than 20 threes this season, and the team shoots a respectable 35 percent from beyond the arc. El Camino gets most of its offense from its slashing, as four starters have the ability to score off the dribble.
The ex-factors: Orange Glen freshman forward Adam Nieves averaged double figures in the team’s wins and single digits in losses. When he gets going, he adds a versatile scoring dimension for coach Chris Featherly. El Camino junior RJ Davis has been up and down from the perimeter this season. When he hits shots, they’re tough to beat.
Who wins: This game is a toss-up on paper, but whichever team controls the boards will have the advantage. Outside of Miller, the Patriots best rebounder is 6-2 freshman Adam Nieves, who has one of the best motors in the entire region. El Camino’s second leading rebounder is also their best interior defender, 6-3 senior forward Deundra McNair.
Prediction: El Camino 68, Orange Glen 64
How they got here: Santa Fe Christian defeated (15) Kearny (66-29) and (10) La Costa Canyon (65-56). Mission Hills defeated (11) La Jolla (73-67 OT) and (3) Canyon Crest Academy (71-65 OT)
Starters for SFC: Jack McCroskey, PG; Brook Gray, G; TJ Askew F; Matthew Stevenson, F; Spencer Rydin, G
Starters for Mission Hills: Shawn Peters, PG; Chris Olave, G; Tanner Stanich, WF; Robert Ligayon, G; Warren Washington, PF/C
The skinny: For Santa Fe Christian, this is the second straight year advancing to at least the D1 semifinals (last year they won the title). And for a second year, they’ve done it with disciplined and balanced offense and a physical, wear-you-down defense and a roster that doesn’t feature a Division 1 signee. That doesn’t mean that this team doesn’t have talent: McRoskey and Askew (pictured) are each committed to Division 3 schools, and Stevenson is a dual-sport standout.
Mission Hills has the best basketball prospect and best athlete in the game. Oregon State-bound Warren Washington, a 6-11 face-up forward, has had a monster statistical season, and 6-2 Chris Olave is headed to Ohio State University on a football scholarship – no small feat. Outside of the potent duo, the Grizzlies has a solid cast of role players that understand how to play off of Washington. Ligayon has improved rapidly during his sophomore year.
The ex-factors: For Santa Fe Christian, it’s health. Stevenson, the heart and soul of the team, missed the quarterfinals game against La Costa Canyon due to an injury sustained in the Kearny game. Gray, an improving combo guard, also missed the game. If they are not in the lineup, the Eagles will have their hands full against Washington. For Mission Hills, much will depend how committed Washington is to the paint. He tends to drift on the perimeter at times, but when he’s dialed in, he’s virtually unguardable one-on-one in San Diego.
Prediction: Santa Fe Christian 64, Mission Hills 58