La Salle (18-8), for the first time, is hosting a team that is not from out of town and the Lancers are not having to drive far for the opening round.
Blair (10-14) presents an unlikely matchup that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if not for the playoffs. With Blair and Muir joining the division, Goldstein scouted both schools in case the Lancers drew them at some point. Goldstein got feedback from the Blair-La Caada game last week, which the Vikings lost 74-56.
Blair finished fourth in the Rio Hondo League and is an at-large entrant. The Vikings were to present a tough challenge courtesy of a formidable front court, led by 6-foot-7 junior forward Marcus Bagnerise, who is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The Vikings, though, will have to go without Bagnerise and senior Jasper Cobb, both of whom are academically ineligible. They did not play in the season finale against Monrovia last week.
“Obviously now it’s a little different because you don’t know who will be the main guy scoring,” Goldstein said. “I feel bad for Blair. I know if we lost Matt Nolan or another one of our guards that would be a huge blow.”
The matchup most would have wanted to see was Nolan (6-6, 200 pounds) against Bagnerise. Nolan also is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Fans, however, can still expect to see two varied styles. Blair thrives in a run-and-gun offense, though the Vikings can also play the halfcourt and opt for mid-range jumpers. La Salle also likes to push the pace and runs sets and motion in an effort to create mismatches that would give Nolan or fellow guard Michael Edwards some open space for high percentage shots.
Blair coach Sean Bankhead brought up Sherman Simpson, a 6-foot-4 freshman playing small forward, from the junior varsity. Simpson played some varsity this year but wanted to work on other aspects of his game and opted to play in the lower levels. Bankhead, though, is high on Simpson, a good ballhandler who’s athletic and quick. Lance Green and Marcus Spruill will share the load in scoring.