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STEVEN GEORGES , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange Lutheran's Jessi Matson and teammates will find out Friday if they have been selected to play in the Open Division bracket of the CIF-SS playoffs.

Open Division bracket could grab O.C.'s top five teams

STAFF WRITER

The CIF-Southern Section will announce the Open Division selections on Friday afternoon, two days before the playoff brackets are released for every other girls division.

The final Open Division watch list released Monday named 19 potential selections, including the teams in the top five of the county rankings: Brea Olinda, Mater Dei, Troy, Fairmont Prep and Orange Lutheran.

The panel that will put together the Open Division will choose 12 or 16 teams for the Southern Section’s elite bracket. The bonus of being selected for the Open Division is that it guarantees admission to the CIF Southern California Regionals, which is the qualifying tournament for the CIF state championships.

Mater Dei, Troy and Brea Olinda seem to be virtual locks at this point. The Monarchs are ranked No. 3 in Division 1AA, and Troy is sixth. Brea Olinda has ridden a 15-game win streak to remain atop the Division 3AA poll, and the Ladycats have beaten several watch list teams along the way.

Fairmont Prep and Orange Lutheran appear to be on the bubble. The Huskies is ranked No. 13 in Division 1AA this week, making it the lowest ranked 1AA squad on the watch list. The Lancers are ranked No. 2 in 3AA.

If neither team is selected to the Open, both would be favorites to win their respective divisions.

“Either way, we’re going to play who we got to play,” Fairmont coach Dave Esparza said.

Playoff brackets for all divisions will be released Sunday beginning at 12:30 p.m. The pairings will be available at ocvarsity.com upon release.

DOWN TO THE WIRE

There are several intriguing matchups on this week’s schedule.

In the Empire League, Kennedy and Cypress are tied atop the standings and will potentially play in a de facto league championship game Thursday night at Cypress. The Centurions won the first meeting between the two teams two weeks ago, but a setback against Tustin has left the door open for Kennedy.

The last four games between Cypress and Kennedy have been decided by four points or less.

QUEST FOR 200

Troy set a Southern Section record for consecutive league wins a season ago, and with two Freeway League games to play this season, the Warriors seem likely to reach 200 straight.

No. 3 Troy travels to Buena Park on Tuesday before hosting La Habra in the regular-season finale on Thursday. The Warriors crushed the Coyotes, 83-3, a few weeks back and also eased past the Highlanders, 63-26.

For four-year varsity players like Rebecca Lazuka and Barbara Sitanggan, two more wins would give them a perfect 40-0 league record in their careers.

BUCKETS AT BREA

The final Crestview League game of the season pits No. 1 Brea Olinda against Foothill on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

The Ladycats sit atop the league standings, but Knights forward Sydney Sharp leads all Orange County players in scoring, averaging 22.4 points per game.

Second on that list is Brea’s Reili Richardson, who’s scoring 20.6 points a night.

The first meeting this season between the two prolific scorers saw them combine for 38 points, Richardson leading all players with 21, while Sharp was next best with 17.

Contact the writer: kconnnolly@ocregister.com


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