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Fryer: Freeway closure adds to stress for some playoff teams

STAFF COLUMNIST

Gentlemen, start your traffic apps!

All lanes on the 91 freeway between the 71 and I-15 will be closed in both directions for 55 hours, starting this evening. The closure starts at 9 p.m., but expect horrible backups beforehand. Some O.C. teams headed to the Inland Empire for playoff games today are planning ahead and will be furiously examining their cellphone traffic apps.

Santa Margarita’s boys basketball team plays at Chino Hills in an Open Division first-round game today. The Eagles will leave as soon as school is out. They might wish they were actual Eagles that can fly over traffic.

Santa Margarita coach Jeff Reinert said the team has plotted three different routes, with the one to be selected depending upon traffic reports.

“We can take the 241 toll road up to the 91, or …” said Reinert, detailing other options.

Reinert grew up in Washington state, so Southern Californians’ mania about traffic still is a bit of a curiosity to him. “The news on the radio,” he said, “seems to be mostly about traffic.”

Capistrano Valley plays a 2AA second-round game today at Perris. That’s significantly east of Orange County, in case you’re wondering.

“We’re leaving at 1:15,” said Capistrano Valley coach Brian Mulligan. He meant “p.m.” but “a.m.” might not be a bad idea.

“We’ll eat at 3:30 and walk around a bit,” Mulligan said.

When he told his players they would play at Perris, Mulligan asked, “Do any of you guys speak French?”

Blank stares ensued. A good joke, wasted.

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• Laguna Beach’s boys basketball team does not have to go through the 91 freeway problems for its away game Friday. But the Breakers do have a long trip – to Atascadero for a 4AA second-round game.

• Sometimes, a team seeded higher than its opponent is the visiting team in the first round of the playoffs. An example in the boys basketball Division 1AA first round Wednesday: third-seeded St. John Bosco played at unseeded Pacifica of Oxnard. That’s because St. John Bosco was an at-large team, Pacifica was its league’s No. 2 team and an at-large team always is going to be the first-round visitor against a playoff team that was an automatic qualifier as a league’s No. 1, 2 or 3 team.

• Final score: Rancho Cucamonga 71, Anaheim 18 in a Division 1AA first-round playoff game. That is a prime example of why we say “good riddance” to the enrollment-inclined playoff system that is being replaced by the competitive-equity model next school year.

• With an unusual bit of timing, 6-foot-11 basketball player Jacob Hughes on Tuesday withdrew from Servite to enroll at El Dorado. El Dorado, without Hughes, lost to Gahr of Cerritos in the 3AA first round. Servite, without its junior center, beat Wilson of Hacienda Heights on Wednesday.

• Hughes is not the first county athlete to attend three or more schools over four years of high school, so we’re not picking on him or anyone else here. It should, though, remind everyone that we’ve never seen an athlete raise a pro sports all-star game or playoffs MVP trophy and exclaim, “I got this because I transferred multiple times in high school!”

Janessa Paredes of Beckman advanced to the second round of the 3-point competition of the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships. People can view video highlights of the competitors and vote for them to advance further at highschoolslam.com/womens/3pt.

• The average margin of victory in the CIF-SS girls water polo Division 1 playoffs first round Wednesday was 10 goals.

• The Orange County all-star football game has a date and site: July 8 at Orange Coast College.

• Football players who did not get the college recruiting they sought get a great chance to impress college coaches Saturday at the California Showcase at Great Park in Irvine. The event, presented by former UCLA coach Terry Donahue and the National Football Foundation, was a huge success last year. The event is free. Visit cashowcase.org for more information.

• San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears, who will be a senior in the 2016 season, received a scholarship offer from Colorado. That’s the eighth college to offer Sears.

• Buena Park football junior cornerback Elijah Gates this week received an offer from UCLA.

• Three county teams are in Baseball America’s preseason national top 25: Huntington Beach is No. 1 (much more on that in our county baseball preview on Feb. 27); JSerra is No. 5; and Orange Lutheran is No. 9.

• JSerra defeated Edison, 5-0, Wednesday in the Sunset Vs. Trinity League Baseball Challenge. Rain pushed the Orange Lutheran at Fountain Valley game to Tuesday.

• Email exchanges of this sort are coming: “Why did you leave my child off of the ‘players to watch’ part of your season preview?” … “Because we did not receive a survey from your child’s coach.” … “Then I’m going to call my child’s coach.”

• Spring sports coaches, don’t let that happen to you. Download the survey available under your sport’s “news” category at ocvarsity.com and return them to us immediately, if not sooner.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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