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Fryer's predictions for the basketball playoffs
Making predictions for all 12 divisions of the CIF-Southern Section boys basketball playoffs, which start Wednesday night.
2013 champion: None; division debut
Top seeds: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Etiwanda; 3. Loyola of Los Angeles; 4. Centennial of Corona
Outlook: Mater Dei is 27-0 and trying to go undefeated for the first time since the 1984-85 season. Monarchs senior Stanley Johnson probably is the best player in the Southern Section, certainly the best in Orange County. The Monarchs might have the second- and third-best players in the county, too, in junior guard Rex Pflueger and sophomore center MJ Cage. Etiwanda (25-3) might have the second best player in the section, USC-signed guard Jordan McLaughlin. Loyola (24-2) is without standout point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who had to withdraw from school two weeks ago because of academic misconduct. Centennial (24-2), led by Long Beach State-signed guard Deontae North, has lost only to Etiwanda and Loyola.
Final four: Mater Dei; Centennial; St. John Bosco; Etiwanda
Champion: Mater Dei
2013 champion: Mater Dei
Top seeds: 1. Long Beach Poly; 2. Rancho Cucamonga; 3. Mission Viejo; 4. Damien of La Verne
Outlook: Long Beach Poly (20-7) finished above Compton in the Moore League, but Compton and not Poly was selected to the Open Division based upon having an overall superior season. Two of the four losses by Rancho Cucamonga (23-4) were to Etiwanda in Baseline League play. Mission Viejo (20-6) has the type of inside-outside offensive balance that could carry the Diablos far. Watch out, too, for Los Alamitos (23-4).
Final four: Long Beach Poly; Los Alamitos; Mission Viejo; Rancho Cucamonga
Champion: Long Beach Poly
2013 champion: Santa Monica
Top seeds: 1. El Toro; 2. Alemany of Mission Hills; 3. Temecula Valley; 4. M.L. King of Riverside
Outlook: El Toro (24-2) lost in last year’s 1A final. The Chargers’ one deficiency, and it is a slight one, is rebounding, and they will have to be great there to get back to the championship game. Alemany (19-9) finished third, in the great Mission League, to Open Division teams Loyola and Chaminade of West Hills. Temecula Valley (23-4) has beaten some good teams, such as Mission Viejo and Trabuco Hills, and went 10-0 in the Southwestern League. King (19-8) finished fourth in the very-tough Big VIII league. Lawndale (18-8) lost to a bunch of terrific teams in December and is playing its best ball now.
Final four: El Toro; Lawndale; Temecula Valley; Alemany
Champion: El Toro
2013 champion: J.W. North of Riverside
Top seeds: 1. Canyon; 2. Foothill; 3. Westlake; 4. Elsinore
Outlook: It could be an all-Century League final, with Canyon (23-4) and Foothill (20-6) and their splendid student rooting sections mixing it up at Honda Center. Westlake (21-7), 2A champion last year, is battle tested coming out of the Marmonte League in which it was co-champion with Calabasas. Westlake, though, likely has to play rising Westminster (18-8) in the second round. And look out for Woodbridge (19-8) with all-around scorer Michael Scarlett.
Final four: Canyon; Woodbridge; Westlake; Foothill
2013 champion: Westlake
Top seeds: 1. Sonora; 2. Calabasas; 3. Hart of Newhall; 4. Colony of Ontario
Outlook: Excellent high school point guards sometimes unnecessarily feel they have to “take over the game.” If Sonora point guard Josh Rodriguez can rein in his game just a tad, that will help the Raiders get to the final. Calabasas, co-champion with Westlake of the Marmonte League, has won 13 in a row. Colony (21-7) has won five in row since losing to Los Alamitos at the Nike Extravaganza. A sleeper in this division could be Tustin (19-7), which is in a comfortable quarter of the bracket.
Final four: Sonora; Colony; Calabasas; Tustin
2013 champion: Damien of La Verne
Top seeds: 1. Santa Margarita; 2. Atascadero; 3. Brea Olinda; 4. Corona del Mar
Outlook: Santa Margarita (18-8) advanced to the 3A championship game last year. The Eagles are better this year. Atascadero (23-2) has won 16 in a row, but the competition, other than a win over Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, has not been strong. Brea Olinda (19-9) finished third in the crazy Century League. Corona del Mar (19-6) looks average but plays well together. Western (21-5) and Yorba Linda (17-11) could surprise people who did not see them play. Another team to monitor is La Mirada (18-9) which lost to Open Division team Mayfair of Lakewood by two points just a couple of weeks ago.
Final four: Santa Margarita; La Mirada; Brea Olinda; Western
Champion: Santa Margarita
2013 champion: St. John Bosco
Top seeds: 1. Santa Barbara; 2. St. Francis of La Canada; 3. La Canada; 4. Oak Park
Outlook: Santa Barbara (22-2) has not lost in 2014, with its last defeat to Newbury Park on Dec. 31 in a tournament championship game. The Dons’ other loss was to Open Division team Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. St. Francis (14-11) finished fifth in the Mission League, but that league has Loyola, Alemany and Chaminade in it.
Final four: Santa Barbara; Cabrillo of Lompoc; La Canada; St. Francis
Champion: St. Francis
2013 champion: Serra of Gardena
Top seeds: 1. Buckley of Sherman Oaks; 2. Oaks Christian of Westlake Village; 3. Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo; 4. Crespi of Encino
Outlook: The two teams ranked 1-2 in the final division poll, Bishop Montgomery of Torrance and Serra of Gardena, were pulled into the Open Division. So that makes this a wide open grouping. JSerra (13-11) is great when the Lions have it together. They can be erratic. Laguna Beach is a hidden gem, with three terrific players in Josh Adams, Noah Blanton and Alec Wulff.
Final four: Buckley; JSerra; Laguna Beach; Oaks Christian
2013 champion: Pacific Hills of Los Angeles
Top seeds: 1. Village Christian of Sun Valley; 2. Price of Los Angeles; 3. Windward of Los Angeles; 4. Campbell Hall of North Hollywood
Outlook: The top four seeded teams are from private schools that emphasize basketball excellence. Village Christian (21-4), led by Gonazaga-signed point guard Bryan Alberts, looked good in its loss to Mater Dei at the Nike Extravaganza. The champion of this division would beat the champions of at least a half dozen other divisions.
Final four: Village Christian; Price; Windward; Campbell Hall
Champion: Village Christian
2013 champion: Buckley
Top seeds: 1. Saddleback Valley Christian; 2. San Gabriel Academy of San Gabriel; 3. Brethren Christian; 4. Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara
Outlook: Saddleback Valley Christian (22-4) has at least four different players that can lead the offense on any given night, and that’s a very good attribute to have in the playoffs. San Gabriel Academy (19-7) is an up-and-coming program on its way to becoming one of Southern California’s elite programs. Brethren Christian (22-4) did not collapse when 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye left for UC Irvine.
Final four: Saddleback Valley Christian; Bishop Diego; Brethren Christian; San Gabriel Academy
Champion: Saddleback Valley Christian
2013 champion: Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro
Top seeds: 1. Renaissance Academy of La Canada; 2. Bellarmine-Jefferson of Burbank; 3. Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country; 4. Orangewood Academy
Outlook: Renaissance Academy (16-7) is a guard-oriented team and one of those guards is a tall one for a 5A team, 6-6 Marty Gaizauskas. Orangewood (13-13) finished second to Saddleback Valley Christian in the San Joaquin League and played a challenging schedule. Two of Orangewood’s losses were to JSerra, one by only seven points. Riverside Christian has a standout junior guard, Tyler Davis who is averaging 21 points a game.
Final four: Renaissance; Orangewood; Santa Clarita Christian; Riverside Christian.
Champion: Riverside Christian
2013 champion: Rio Hondo Prep of Arcadia
Top seeds: 1. Trinity Classical Academy of Valencia; 2. Desert Chapel of Palm Springs; 3. Joshua Springs of Yucca Valley; 4. Los Angeles Adventist
Outlook: Trinity Classical (13-8) reached the Division 6 championship game last year. Its top player is 6-4 guard Ryan Brooks, also an All-CIF linebacker on the school’s CIF 8-man football championship team. Desert Chapel (20-4) has won 13 in a row.
Final four: Trinity Classical; Los Angeles Adventist; Hesperia Christian; Desert Chapel
Champion: Trinity Classical