CIF-SS Postseason Analysis: Division I Challengers

High School
Southern California

Posted On: 02/13/18 1:17 PM

With the CIF-SS Open Division committee cutting the bracket in half this postseason from 16 to eight teams it makes for a much stronger field in Division I.

Teams like Oak Park, Harvard-Westlake, Pasadena, JSerra, Chino Hills and Corona Centennial now have the opportunity to compete for a Southern Section title.

The new format comes with a caveat, however, as not all teams that qualify for the Division I playoffs are guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs like those of the Open.

The Division I playoffs begin Wednesday and here are some things to watch for in the field.

The Challengers

JSerra had to earn one of few at-large berth’s as its fourth-place finish in the Trinity League didn’t earn it an automatic spot. But a fourth-place finish in the Trinity League is a first or second-place finish in most leagues in SoCal, so nobody should be sleeping on the Lions. D.J. Rodman, Joel Mensah and J.T. Robinson form an impressive trio that has the offensive firepower to make a good run. JSerra opens on the road against Villa Park.

Could this be one of coach Shelton Diggs’ best coaching jobs yet? Long Beach Poly won the Moore League yet again despite not having a player taller than 6-foot-3. What the Jackrabbits do have is a gritty crew that’s bought in to what their coach is teaching. The combination of Darryl Polk, Jr., Jesse Galloway, Justin Rene, Giordan Williams and Malik Salahuddin helped Poly to a 19-7 overall record and has the rapport to cause some problems. The Jackrabbits host Gardena Serra Wednesday.

Alemany, led by senior guard D.J. McDonald, has the pieces to make some noise in the Division I playoffs.

Alemany is another team with a record that might not look the part, but played a tough nonleague schedule and competed in one of the best leagues in the state. Coach Tray Meeks has plenty of talent at his disposal to make a deep run, led by UC Riverside-bound guard D.J. McDonald, senior center Fred Odihambo and sophomore point guard Brandon Whitney. Alemany is on the road at Maranatha Wednesday.

Cantwell-Sacred Heart had the Open Division’s top seed Bishop Montgomery on the ropes twie in Del Rey League play, but couldn’t close the deal either time. Those results lend to the talent level of the Cardinals and their a balanced side with tons of ability. Cantwell is paced by the Martinez brothers, Ian and Avery, along with sophomore guard Jahveon Medearis, junior Bryce Craver and senior center Teddy Ochieng.

Dominguez has a litter of talent with tons of varsity experience, led by Cal State Fullerton-signee Wayne Arnold. Brenton Woods and Devin Garcia are two other four-year starters for the Dons. Junior Sean Harlston is one of the most improved 2019 players in Southern California and the mid-season addition of Gary Williams from Gahr could pay postseason dividends for Dominguez.