Posted On: 03/7/18 6:26 PM
The CIF State playoff brackets were released Sunday afternoon with plenty of intriguing games set across all divisions. Division III, comprised of 31 total teams — with top-seeded George Washington Prep receiving a first-round bye — across the entire state of California, begins Wednesday and here’s a look at each match-up in the Southern Region of that bracket.
8 Riverside Notre Dame (29-3) vs. Oceanside El Camino (18-13)
Outlook: The Titans got hosed as far as seeding goes. How does the Southern Section Division 3A champions which has only lost three games on the season get an 8-seed? Who knows. Anthony Holland, Anton Mozga, Pierce Sterling and Dondre Bausley lead the way for the Titans, who beat Bishop Amat, 61-54, to secure the section crown. El Camino fell to Santa Fe Christian in the San Diego Section Division I semifinals and have a very guard good, Jalen Flanagan, who could have a very good game against the Titans.
Prediction: Notre Dame over El Camino
5 Long Beach St. Anthony (27-3) vs. 12 Ventura Buena (23-5)
Outlook: The Saints were the favorite in Division 3AA before falling to Crean Lutheran and coach Allen Caveness will certainly have his guys ready to bounce-back. Buena pushes the tempo, shoots a lot of 3-pointers and thrives in a helter-skelter atmosphere. St. Anthony has a ton of talented underclassmen led by junior forwards Frank Staine and Marquise Nelloms. Unsigned senior point guard CaCoa Chatman has had a good year for the Saints.
Prediction: St. Anthony over Buena
4 Palmdale Knight (24-6) vs. 13 Visalia Redwood (20-9)
Outlook: Knight dropped the Southern Section 3AA title game to Crean Lutheran Saturday in double overtime and have been causing opponents fits with their size, length and athleticism. This one against Redwood should be no different. Dajour Lewis is a match-up nightmare and that will be evident in this game more than any.
Prediction: Knight over Redwood
3 Irvine Crean Lutheran (23-9) vs. 14 Escondido Orange Glen (18-13)
Outlook: No team is hotter than Crean Lutheran heading in to the state playoffs. The Saints have run off three straight thrilling upset victories, including a double-OT decision over Knight in the 3AA title game. Sophomore forward Isaiah Johnson is the marquee attraction for Crean, but role guys like Jake Conerty, Chris Swardstrom, Max Bo and Derek Bagatourian have stepped up in big moments. Orange Glen has a high-scoring senior point guard in Damien Miller, who is also pulling down 9.2 rebounds and dishing 9.3 assists per game. Orange Glen will need Miller to have a dominant performance to advance.
Prediction: Crean Lutheran over Orange Glen
6 Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian (20-11) vs. 11 Murrieta Mesa (24-9)
Outlook: This match-up could come down to a battle of the forwards. Santa Fe Christian’s T.J. Askew is a versatile inside-out threat while Murrieta Mesa’s Lamar Wright and Shamar Wright. Shamar is scoring 19.4 points and grabbing 8.6 rebounds a game, while Lamar is at 12.7 and 6.3, respectively.
Prediction: Murrieta Mesa over Santa Fe Christian
7 Twentynine Palms (23-9) vs. 10 La Verne Bishop Amat (26-6)
Outlook: It’s one heck of a haul out to Twentynine Palms and Bishop Amat better find a way to stay loose on that three-hour drive. The Wildcats are putting up 70.1 points per game on average, led by seniors D’Shaun Barrett (17.4), Adam Bell (16.4) and Abe Bell (12.5). The high scoring, uptempo type of pace is what the Lancers are best at. Bishop Amat lets the 3-pointers fly with freedom.
Prediction: Twentynine Palms over Bishop Amat
2 L.A. University (25-5) vs. 15 Reedley Immanuel (20-11)
Outlook: This one could be closer than the seeding might lead you to believe. Immanuel is paced by Nate Kendricks who is averaging nearly 29 points per game and has scored better than 40 points three times this season. University is a well-balanced side, having four players putting up between 9.6 and 19.7 points per game in Daisone Hughes (19.7), David Cheatom 17.3), Richard Wilson, Jr. (12.6) and Nicolas Smith (9.6).
Prediction: University over Immanuel