SAN DIEGO — Solid favorites are seeded No. 1 in Divisions III and V, and it appears Division IV will be wide open when the San Diego Section boys' basketball tournament opens early next week.
For the first time, all schools will be represented in the tournament. Teams were seeded at a lengthy meeting Saturday, and the playoffs for Division III-V schools will begin on Wednesday.
Division III: Lincoln (22-2), the Times' No. 2-ranked team, is the only team in Division III with a winning record. Ramona, the No. 2 seed, is 13-15.
There are only six teams in the division, and it might have been more competitive had Lincoln opted before the season to move up to Division I or II. A school may choose to compete at a higher level than classified by its enrollment, but it cannot drop.
The Lincoln coaching staff wanted to stay in Division III to put the team in better position for the state tournament.
"That's the only reason," Coach Ron Loneski said. "All you have to do is go and ask other coaches how many teams from San Diego that ever went to the state tournament got past the Los Angeles teams. Even Poway, when they had their good teams, could never beat L.A. teams. We'll play anybody in San Diego, but we feel we have a shot statewide by doing it this way."
Six players average in double figures for Lincoln: Carl Gaines, 19.2; Aaron Wilhite, 14.9; Joe Temple, 14.5; Roger Johnson, 13.8; Bernard Dickerson, 10.0; and Kenny Hawkins, 10.0.
"We haven't won here yet," Loneski said. "The biggest mistake you can make is taking something for granted. In the tournament, anybody can beat anybody else at any time."
Lincoln, which has a first-round bye, faces the winner of Clairemont (5-18) and Rancho Buena Vista (4-22). Ramona plays the winner of St. Augustine (6-17) and University (7-15).
Division IV: A team with a losing record is the No. 1 seed in this six-team division, and, believe it or not, all coaches agreed.
Christian (10-12) is No. 1, followed by Mt. Empire (16-6).
"We feel that our league (City Central) prepares us for the tournament," said Christian Coach Randy Wright. "Lincoln may be the best team in the county, and San Diego and Crawford have both been playing well. We're 10-12, but our schedule has been tough."
Injuries haven't helped, either. Leading scorer David Jeremiah, fourth in the county at 23.7 points per game, suffered a badly sprained ankle on Jan. 29 and has had limited practice time. Sixth man Tony Evans fractured an ankle a day earlier and was lost for the season, and several players have had the flu and have missed practice.
Holtville (13-7) is seeded fourth--behind Coronado, which is 6-15. Still, Holtville Coach John Reschert didn't complain. "Coronado plays a better schedule than we do," said Reschert, whose school is located 10 miles east of El Centro in the Imperial Valley. "And the other coaches said Christian is the No. 1 team, and I was willing to accept that."
Division V: Of the 12 schools in this division, Bishop's (20-0) is the unanimous No. 1 seed. Calipatria (18-5) is second.
"We're playing well, but we haven't peaked yet," said Bishop's Coach Ren Marquette. "We took a lot of days off in February because we had a big lead in the (Coastal) league. We gave them Thursday and Friday off, so we should come in to practice Monday fresh."
Bishop's top player is Kamal Assaf, a 6-foot 2-inch point guard who averages 17 points and 8 assists a game.
Division III: Ramona (16-7) and Lincoln (15-7) are Nos. 1 and 2. The two played once this season and Ramona won easily, 52-33.
"I don't think we're playing as well as in the first round, but it's deceptive," Ramona Coach Joe Bess said. "In the second round, people have scouted you and adjusted."
Center Meleea Van Patton and forward Kris Miller each average 13 points a game for Ramona.
Division IV: Holtville (14-9) is No. 1 and is the only team in the division with a winning record. Coronado (10-12) is seeded No. 2 and Marian (6-11) is No. 3. Christian (6-16) and Mt. Empire (2-20) round out the division.
Division V: La Jolla Country Day (17-4) is seeded No. 1 and Lutheran (17-6) is No. 2. There are a total of 10 teams.