Four O.C. teams one step from State berths


Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

•This is the third season in a row which the Mater Dei's boys and girls basketball have simultaneously reached the CIF Southern California Regionals finals, and the sixth season overall. Mater Dei's girls program has four Regionals championships, and the school's boys program has 12. Mater Dei's boys teams are 12-8 in Regionals finals.

•The schedule for county teams playing in the Southern California Regionals finals Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario: Division 3 girls, Laguna Hills vs. Mission Bay, 10 a.m.; Division 2 girls, Foothill vs. J.W. North of Riverside, 2 p.m.; Division 1 girls, Long Beach Poly vs. Mater Dei, 6 p.m.; and Division 1 boys, Bullard of Fresno vs. Mater Dei boys, 8 p.m. The arena's seating capacity for basketball is 10,832.

•Ticket prices for the games at Citizens Business Bank Arena: $10 for children 13 and younger, for high school students with student identification, and for senior citizens 65 and older with identification; $18 for adult general admission; and $45 for reserved courtside seating. Yes, it all seems a tad steep for high school basketball and the ticket prices will impede attendance. Parking is $10.

•The CIF Northern California Regionals are happening concurrently with the Southern California Regionals, with the winners of the two Regionals meeting in the state championships March 23 and 24 at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. Any state finalists from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section would seem to have an advantage. For example, if the Kennedy of Sacramento girls team advances to the state Division 1 championship game, it would be its third game at the Power Balance Pavilion, as its CIF Sac-Joaquin and Regional championship games will have been played there while the CIF-Southern Section's representative in that girls Division 1 state final would be making its season debut in that arena.

•Mater Dei boys basketball senior guard Eli Stalzer recently received a scholarship offer from Colorado. Stalzer is one of those "glue" guys needed to keep the star players together on a winning basketball team.

•Ocean View boys basketball senior center Conor Clifford committed to UC Irvine. He has great moves and a soft touch for a guy 7-foot, 265 pounds. The regular letter-of-intent signing period for basketball begins April 11.

•The top three candidates for county boys basketball player of the year: Xavier Johnson and Katin Reinhardt from Mater Dei; and Gabe York from Orange Lutheran.

•The top three candidates for county boys basketball coach of the year: Chris Nordstrom at Orange Lutheran; Troy Roelen at Mission Viejo; and John Wooldridge at Sunny Hills. We avoid selecting recent coach of the year honorees, so coaches who were great this year, coaches like Gary McKnight of Mater Dei and Rusty Van Cleave of Foothill who were county coaches of the year the past two seasons, are out of the running.

•The baseball field at Santa Ana High will be dedicated to longtime Saints coach Bill Ross, who passed away on New Year's Day at age 79. The event, which will include a BBQ and alumni softball game is March 24 starting at 11 a.m. at Santa Ana High. To RSVP to the event, call 714-567-4980, and to sign up for the alumni game call 714-721-1583.

•Ocean View baseball senior shortstop Colton Johnson committed to Cal State San Bernardino.

•Wow, it's taking a long time for Orange Lutheran to name its varsity football head coach. Maybe an announcement will come early next week. The website, which includes news on high school and college football coaching moves, posted late last month that former Air Force offensive coordinator Chuck Petersen had been offered the Orange Lutheran position, and we believe that Fullerton College coach Tim Byrnes was among the finalists.

•Sunset League football teams were 1-6 over the past two years in Pac-5 playoff games, so the proposed move of the league out of the division looks like a fair one. The concern here is that the Sunset's proposed transfer, which can be appealed, to the Southwest Division might mean the league could dominate the Southwest. But, considering geography and competitive-equity, where else could the Sunset League go?

•The Sunset League would be replaced by the Marmonte League if the proposed football playoff groupings are approved by the CIF-SS Council. Not implying a connection, but Bill Redell of the Marmonte League member Oaks Christian of Westlake Village announced his retirement this week. He has been the school's only football head coach since Oaks Christian opened 12 years ago.

•The Southwest Division would grow from being a four-league division to a five-league division, with the Sunset added to the Century, Empire, Freeway and Sea View leagues. As seven-team leagues like the Century and Empire Leagues will get only three, instead of the previous four, guaranteed playoff berths, and five-team leagues like the Sea View getting only two instead of the previous three guaranteed berths, the proposed Southwest Division this fall would have 14 guaranteed berths and two at-large berths.

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