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Fryer on basketball: Getting ready for the playoffs

OCVARSITY.COM

A look at Orange County boys basketball:

•It is the final week of the regular season, with league championships and playoff berths at stake. CIF-Southern Section playoff brackets, seedings and first-round pairings will be available as they are released Sunday at ocvarsity.com.

•Pairings day begins with the CIF-SS office's announcement of at-large qualifiers at 12:30 p.m. Release of the section's 32-team brackets in 12 playoff divisions, with the 1AA and 1A brackets at 1 p.m., 2AA and 2A at 1:20 p.m., 3AAA, 3AA and 3A at 1:40 p.m., 4AA and 4A at 2 p.m., 5AA and 5A at 2:20 p.m., and Division 6 at 2:40 p.m.

•Teams automatically qualify for the playoffs if they are among the top two finishers in the final standings of four- and five-team leagues, the top three in six- and seven-team leagues, and the top four in eight- and nine-team leagues. For teams that don't finish high enough for automatic entry, there will be at-large berths available in many if not all divisions.

•Last year, there were two at-large berths in Division 1AA. In 3AA, 20 of the 32 entries were at-large teams.

•To create playoff divisions, CIF-SS places schools into two groups based upon CIF State mandated enrollment guidelines. One group is for schools with 1,250 students or fewer and the other is for schools at 1,251 or more. Within those groups, schools are temporarily placed into enrollment-based divisions and then a four-year- playoff points profile system, based upon teams' playoff success over the previous four years, is used to move teams into their final playoff divisions.

•Because schools in the 1,250-or-fewer group must stay in that group, the playoff points profile system moves the better smaller-school basketball programs into 4AA and those schools can ascend no further because 3A starts with schools of 1,251 enrollment or higher. Division 4AA has two teams ranked in the state top 20, No. 4 Bishop Mongomery of Torrance and No. 20 Serra of Gardena. All four of last season's 4AA semifinalists, champion Serra. Crespi of Encino, La Verne Lutheran and Price of Los Angeles, remain in 4AA this season because the state enrollment based parameters place those schools in that division no matter their playoff points profiles.

•CIF-SS rankings significantly influence playoff seedings and bracketing. County teams that are No. 1 in their divisions: Mater Dei, in Division 1AA; El Toro, 1A; and Tustin, 3AAA.

•CIF-SS rules limit basketball teams to 20 games during the regular season. Participation in a tournament counts as two games in a team's regular-season games total, no matter how many tournament games actually played. Mission Viejo, for example, actually will have played in 27 regular-season games at the conclusion of this week, but the Diablos, who played in three tournaments, will have played 20 regular-season games according to CIF-SS rules.

•How this writer voted in the Register's poll this week: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Mission Viejo; 3. Orange Lutheran; 4. JSerra; 5. Foothill; 6. El Toro; 7. Tustin; 8. Villa Park; 9. Aliso Niguel; 10. Sunny Hills.

•Given the results of the top-10 poll, here is how this writer would rank teams 11-25: 11. Tesoro (17-8); 12. Fountain Valley (19-5); 13. Sonora (21-3); 14. Huntington Beach (15-9); 15. Los Alamitos (17-9); 16. Ocean View (18-6); 17. Servite (15-10); 18. Canyon (16-9); 19. Northwood (19-5); 20. Brethen Christian (20-3); 21. Dana Hills (18-7); 22. Saddleback Valley Christian (20-5); 23. San Clemente (15-10); 24. Troy (19-6); 25. Laguna Beach (19-6).

•Brethren Christian 7-foot-5 senior Mamadou Ndiaye is the county scoring leader, at 27.4 points a game, followed by Mission Viejo's Evan Zeller (21.9 points a game), University's Chris DaSilva (21.2), Ocean View's Kendall Small (20.9) and Fountain Valley's Josh Armstrong (20.4).

•Armstrong, a 6-3 senior guard, scored 22 points with six rebounds and six assists in a Barons Sunset League victory over Newport Harbor, and 29 points with seven rebounds and eight assists in their league championship-clinching victory over Los Alamitos.

•Time Warner Cable will televise taped coverage of Tuesday's Foothill-Brea Olinda game on Saturday at 8 p.m.

•Free-throw shooting often is the difference in outcomes of high school basketball games. In Tustin's 39-33 victory over Cypress last week, Tustin made 11 of 15 free throws and Cypress was 2 for 6. The Tillers had a 35-32 lead with 22 seconds to go, and Tustin's Nick Hornsby made four free throws in the remaining time to secure the victory.


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