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Playoffs Could Be Surprising

High Schools | BOYS' BASKETBALL REPORT

February 17, 2003|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

If the final week of the regular season is any indication, one would be wise to expect the unexpected in the Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs.

It was a week in which a player scored 100 points, a team lost its first home game in three years and a team that had started 20-0 lost for the third time in three weeks.

Two of these three wacky occurrences could have implications for the playoffs, which start Wednesday with wild-card and first-round games.

Tigran Grigorian, who scored 100 points for Pico Rivera Mesrobian in the Bulldogs' 114-47 victory over Los Angeles Pacific Christian, is a player to track in Division V-A.

Brea Olinda looked unstoppable in winning its first 20 games but has appeared very mortal after a loss to Tustin gave the Wildcats three losses in their final five games.

Los Angeles Price suffered its first defeat at the Billy Blanks Center when it fell to Malibu Kilpatrick. But the top-seeded Knights are still expected to roll through their Division V-A bracket.

A division-by-division breakdown:

DIVISION I-AA

Defending champion: Long Beach Poly.

Seeded teams: 1. Rialto Eisenhower (19-7), 2. Victorville Silverado (25-1), 3. Fontana (24-2), 4. Oxnard (23-3).

Dark horse: Long Beach Poly (19-7). The Jackrabbits have won 13 of 14 games since starting the season 6-6.

Outlook: Eisenhower is in excellent position to win its first section title after thumping Citrus Belt League rival Fontana by 16 points last week. The Eagles' top player, Boston College-bound forward Sean Marshall, has been a member of four consecutive league champion teams.

DIVISION I-A

Defending champion: Los Angeles Loyola.

Seeded teams: 1. Loyola (21-4), 2. Glendora (22-3), 3. Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (22-4), 4. Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley (18-7).

Dark horse: Mission Viejo (23-3). The Diablos are looking to atone for their playoff flop last season, when they lost in the quarterfinals as the top-seeded team.

Outlook: Led by guards Omar Wilkes, Davis Cantor and forward Chris Rucker, Loyola has all the weapons to win a second consecutive section title.

DIVISION II-AA

Defending champion: Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Seeded teams: 1. San Bernardino San Gorgonio (25-2), 2. Villa Park (21-5), 3. Bellflower St. John Bosco (21-6), 4. Santa Barbara (22-4).

Dark horse: Inglewood (18-8). Guard Ray Reed (22.2 points a game) is capable of leading the Bay League co-champions into the title game.

Outlook: Khorry Lewis, Kevin Houston and Jacob Daigle are three reasons San Gorgonio should win its first section title. The Spartans' only perceptible weakness is depth; they use only seven players in tight games. Pasadena and Riverside King, defending section runners-up a year ago, probably won't get past the quarterfinals.

DIVISION II-A

Defending champion: Redondo Union.

Seeded teams: 1. Mater Dei (26-2), 2. Lakewood Mayfair (18-7), 3. Brea Olinda (22-3), 4. Whittier (23-3).

Dark horse: Compton Dominguez (12-6). The Dons could play Mater Dei in the semifinals if they knock off Whittier in the second round.

Outlook: Three weeks ago, Brea Olinda appeared to pose a credible threat to Mater Dei's title hopes. But the Wildcats, who started the season 20-0, finished 2-3, with losses to Placentia El Dorado, Villa Park and Tustin.

DIVISION III-AA

Defending champion: La Puente Bishop Amat.

Seeded teams: 1. Lakewood Artesia (24-2), 2. Santa Margarita (16-9), 3. Calabasas (18-8), 4. Garden Grove Pacifica (20-6).

Dark horse: Santa Margarita. It's a stretch to think anyone is capable of beating Artesia in this division, but the Eagles have the best shot.

Outlook: Go ahead, engrave the trophy and print the T-shirts. Artesia will win its first section title under Coach Scott Pera. The only question is whether the Pioneers' center, 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kaelen Daniels, takes an XXL or an XXXL.

DIVISION III-A

Defending champion: Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

Seeded teams: 1. Bishop Montgomery (25-1), 2. Huntington Beach Ocean View (25-3), 3. North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (21-6), 4. La Canada (21-5).

Dark horse: Compton Centennial (15-9). The Apaches could give Bishop Montgomery fits in semifinals if standout Arron Afflalo has a big game.

Outlook: Bishop Montgomery will rely on standouts Brandon Peace and Fred Washington as it tries to win a fourth consecutive section title. Harvard-Westlake will need production from other players besides stars Bryce Taylor and Adam Gilman to get past Ocean View in the semifinals.

DIVISION IV-AA

Defending champion: North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake.

Seeded teams: 1. Orange Lutheran (19-6), 2. Pasadena La Salle (21-5), 3. Westlake Village Oaks Christian (19-4), 4. Brentwood (16-10).

Dark horse: Los Angeles Murphy (17-9). The Nobles would like nothing more than to send Coach Mike Rios out a winner in his final season.

Outlook: Orange Lutheran is trying to get back to a section title game for the first time since 2000. This is one of the more wide-open divisions.

DIVISION IV-A

Defending champion: Los Angeles Verbum Dei.

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