Inside O.C. basketball this week (2-12-13)


Let the playoff drama begin.

After an exciting regular season, the CIF-SS basketball playoffs have finally arrived. Starting Wednesday and running until April 30 - give or take a month - we will be treated to a thrilling run to the CIF championships, regional championships, state finals and then universe finals.

Sit back and relax.

Inside the O.C. basketball scene is here:

Race to Div. 1AA final begins

If there is one match-up everyone wants to see, it would have to be Mater Dei vs. Long Beach Poly in the CIF-SS Division 1AA final. The Monarchs are the top seed. The Jackrabbits are No. 2. Poly has only two losses this season. Mater Dei has just one loss. As the top two seeds, they can only meet in the final. Potential landmines for Mate Dei: Mission Viejo in the semifinals. Trouble for Poly could come from Centennial and Loyola. The path to the dream game is set, but will someone intrude on the dream?

Where's Stanley Johnson?

It certainly was an interesting end to the regular season for Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson. Johnson scored just five points in a 71-54 victory over Orange Lutheran, and two days later he didn't score at all in a 47-37 victory over Servite. The top-seeded Monarchs open the playoffs tonight against Roosevelt of Corona. I have a hunch that Johnson will have more than five points.

The regular season stat king

There were some remarkable performances during the regular season, but no one can really match the numbers that Brethren Christian's Mamadou Ndiaye put up this season. The 7-foot-5 Ndiaye averaged 27 points a game, 13.6 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game. He shot 78 percent from the field. The Warriors are the fifth seed in the 5AA playoffs. With Ndiaye manning the middle, the Warriors could be around for a long time.

Braving the difficult waters in 4AA

Life in Division 1AA is brutal, but 4AA is right behind it. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance is the top seed, followed by Price, JSerra and Serra of Gardena. (Imagine how much fun it would be if JSerra met Serra.) The Lions, who have been dealing with some injuries lately, so it will be interesting to see if they will get some players back. One thing JSerra has is a fearless point guard in Johnnie Vassar. I finally saw JSerra and Vassar for the first time last week in a victory over Orange Lutheran. He's a junior, can get to the rim, dish in traffic and shoot. Go see him and the Lions play. JSerra opens the playoffs at Whitney.

The Super Division

Division 3 is so big and important that it is separated into three sub-divisions. There is 3A and 3AA and then the elite of the group - 3AAA. To make this even more mind-boggling ... the No. 1 seed in 3A is St. John Bosco. The Braves open the playoffs against Buena Park. The top seed in 3AA is Leuzinger. That's my alma mater, so the rest of the division shouldn't even bother showing up. In 3AAA, the top seed is Tustin. I think we should skip the introduction and get right down to the good stuff. I'm going to create a 3AAAA division: Top two seeds in 3A, AA and AAA and let them play it out. I know what you're saying ... just what we needed - another sub-division in Division 3.

Never underestimate the heart of the Comanches

Canyon got torched by Foothill, 98-67, on Jan. 15, but an interesting thing happened to the Comanches after that. They got up off of the ground and fought their way back into contention for the Century League. Canyon went 5-1 after that loss to Foothill. That stretch included an 83-71 victory over league champion Villa Park and a 66-65 victory over Foothill that kept the Knights from gaining a share of the Century League title. Canyon is the third seed in the 2A playoffs and will be host to Serrano in the first round Friday. The Comanches will not be an easy team to eliminate.

Interesting comparison for Luke Selway

Last season, Villa Park coach Kevin Reynolds described Luke Selway as "Ginobili-esque" referring to San Antonio Spur guard Manu Ginobili. That was high praise for the sophomore. Now a junior, Selway has certainly backed up that comparison ... and then some. He is averaging 18 points a game, 11.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 4.3 steals. That's some serious damage. Selway and the Spartans are the third seed in the 2AA playoffs. Villa Park opens at home against Valencia. I like to Spartans to make a deep run in the division.

Let's play the fan game

An interesting second-round game could be on tap in the 3AAA Division. If Servite beats Arroyo on the road tonight and Sonora takes down Santa Maria, that will give us a Sonora-Servite showdown Friday night. The action in the stands will be memorable. Servite and Sonora have two of the best student sections in the county. I have no idea who would be the home team, but you have to expect a big showing at the game by both student groups. I might have camp out and grab a seat.

Off to see Ocean View

That's where I'm headed Wednesday as the fourth-seeded Seahawks will be host to Laguna Hills. I haven't seen Ocean View since last season, or maybe it was the year before. Sophomores Kendall Small and Tyler Burch are one of the best underclassmen tandem in the county.

My final regular-season O.C. top 10

Here is my final top-10 vote for the regular season. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be: 1. Mater Dei; 2. Mission Viejo; 3. El Toro; 4. JSerra; 5. Villa Park; 6. Foothill; 7. Tustin; 8. Orange Lutheran; 9. Canyon; 10. Sonora

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