Berths in the state community college basketball tournament are at stake tonight for the Rancho Santiago and Saddleback college men's teams.
Rancho Santiago (27-4), the Orange Empire Conference champion and the second-seeded team, plays Santa Barbara City (23-8), the seventh-seeded team, at 7:30 in a Southern Division final at Rancho Santiago.
Santa Barbara City leads the state in defense, holding opponents to an average of 61.2 points. Rancho Santiago leads the state in offense, averaging 89 points.
Saddleback (24-7), the fourth-seeded team, plays host to El Camino (26-4), seeded fifth, at 7:30 p.m. in another Southern Division final.
The meeting will be the teams' second this season. Saddleback defeated El Camino, 67-64, in the championship of the Santa Barbara City Tournament in December.
Saddleback is led by forward Vincent Smalls, who averaged 16.5 points and 9.2 rebounds this season. Forward Mike Minier (12.1) and guard Tom Desiano (11.8) are the only other Gauchos averaging more than 10 points.
El Camino has four players averaging in double figures--forwards Charles White (15.8), Kirkland Howling (14.8) and Zlatko Josic (10.8) and guard Kevin Mixon (10.8). Guard Otis Livingston is averaging 8.3 points and leads the state in assists with an average of 12.5.
In other Southern Division finals, Compton (23-6) plays at Cerritos (28-4), and Ventura (27-4) is at Imperial Valley (23-8).
The winners will advance to the state tournament March 12 to 14 at Loyola Marymount University, where the top four teams from the Northern and Southern divisions meet.