By Michelle Gardner
Mt. San Antonio College womens basketball coach Laura Beeman had a feeling her teams lone loss of the season might come back to haunt her, even though it came in the first game.
She was right.
The Mounties will head into the state playoffs as the No. 2 seed despite a 32-game win streak. Orange Empire champion Orange Coast (29-3), which defeated Mt. SAC 63-57 on Nov. 9, is the top seed.
There were different sets of criteria used. While three-time and defending state champion Mt. SAC boasted the best record and a higher winning percentage, Orange Coast had a higher strength of schedule both in and out of conference.
Orange Coast had 20 quality wins, Mt. SAC 19. A win by the Mounties in the head-to-head would have flipped that number.
I said it to my assistant (Brian Crichlow) that night, Beeman recalled. I knew we werent going to seem them again so we wouldnt have a chance to avenge that loss. It just goes to show every game does mean something.
Beeman, rounding out her 13th year as coach, said that might not necessarily affect the Mounties in the Southern California Regional since they will still get two home games but it would come into play at the eight-team state tournament.
The Mounties open play on Saturday at home against the winner of Wednesdays play-in game between No. 15 Santa Ana (17-13) and No. 18 Cuesta (21-9).
This time you cant take anyone lightly because its one and done if you lose, no second chances, she said.
Chaffey also made it into the 18-team womens field. The Foothill Conference got four teams in the draw. The others are champion San Bernardino Valley (26-5), runner-up Mt. San Jacinto (21-10) and Antelope Valley (18-13).
The Panthers tied Antelope for the No. 3 spot in the conference but lost the head-to-head with the Marauders, meaning they were relegated to the fourth seed out of the conference.
Coach Gary Plunkett thought his team might get left out but its strength of schedule payed off. The Panthers are seeded No. 9 and will play at No. 8 Cerritos (24-8) on Friday.
I went from thinking we had a good chance to thinking we probably wouldnt get in, he said. So I am just thrilled we made it. I knew there was pretty much no chance of a home game.
Area representation on the mens side is even lighter but it will be a quality team left carrying the banner as Citrus (30-1) was awarded the top seed.
The Owls are riding an 18-game win streak, their last and only loss of the season coming to Antelope Valley 78-70 in the quarterfinals of the Wells Fargo Holiday Classic at Riverside Community College in December.
The overall record and perfect 12-0 in Western States Conference play set school records and the conference title is also a first.
Coach Rick Croys team has a first-round bye and will face the winner of Wednesdays play-in between No. 16 El Camino (20-10) and No. 17 Imperial Valley (20-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Chaffey (17-13) did not make the 20-team field. The Panthers finished fifth in the Foothill Conference and could not make the draw ahead of fourth-place San Bernardino Valley (13-15) which was done in by a 4-10 showing in nonconference play.
While the Panthers beat four 20-win teams, they also lost to two conference teams that finished a combined 20 games under .500. They also lost twice to SBVC which is missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
We were young and inconsistent. Thats the bottom line, Coach Jeff Klein said.