Posted On: 02/14/18 11:45 AM
While the Open Division and Division I playoff brackets are drawing the majority of the attention because of the amount of top-end teams and talent, there’s plenty of the same throughout the rest of the postseason participants.
St. Bernard, once trending toward the Open Division, earned the No. 1 seed in Division 2A and appears to be the odds-on favorites before the playoffs begin Wednesday night with teams like Muir, Hesperia and Riverside Poly following closely behind.
Here are some thoughts on the favorites in Division 2A.
St. Bernard, led by juniors Amani Harris and Romelle Mansel along with sophomore sharpshooter Nick Bowden, is in the precarious situation of being a top-seed despite getting in the playoffs with an at-large berth. The Vikings finished fourth in the tough Del Rey League, missing out on one of three automatic playoff bids, and have to go on the road to
Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo in the first round. Despite all of that, St. Bernard is the clear favorite in Division 2A based on overall talent, coaching and strength of schedule.
Muir has the benefit of having 6-foot-5 wing Hunter Woods on its side. Woods is one of top seniors left on the recruiting board and his combination of size, length, athleticism and versatility is a match-up nightmare for most hight school teams. The Mustangs are well-balanced on the scoring front with Woods leading the way at better than 20 a game with fellow seniors Haleem Jenkins (12.9), Tiyon Martin (10.9) and Tasson Aubry-Thomas (9.4) contributing on a nightly basis. Muir hosts Saugus in the first round.
If there’s one guy I’ll put my money on to win me some games, it’s Hesperia guard Jaden Shackelford. The 6-foot-2 junior is averaging 23.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game this season and has the ability to take over any game he plays in. Sophomore Antonio Singleton and senior Jaydon Everett have the scoring capability to pick up any slack left by Shackelford as they’re averaging 13 and 11.6 points per game, respectively. The Scorpions head in to the postseason riding a 12-game winning streak.
Riverside Poly opens on the road against Beaumont and will do so with one of the best sophomores around in Lamont Butler. The 6-foot point guard pulls all the strings for Poly’s attack and has closed out the season on a scoring tear thanks to an improved jump shot. The Bears toughed out a 7-3 record and third-place finish in the difficult Inland Valley League and are capable of winning a game offensively or defensively.
San Marcos of Santa Barbara has one important ingredient working in its favor and that’s size. Six-foot-9 senior Jackson Stormo is averaging 16.8 points and 12.7 rebounds a game this season and he’s a load for any high school big man to deal with, let alone an undersized squad which many prep teams are nowadays. The Royals are scoring 72.5 points per game on average this season and have four players putting up double-figure scoring averages this season.