After avoiding the open division, the Maranatha High School boys basketball team knew it was headed toward some high expectations in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.
The Minuetmen got just that when they were made the division’s top seed when playoff pairings were announced on Sunday. And now the pressure’s on to live up to the advanced billing.
“We’re excited we’re No. 1, but it doesn’t make it easy,” Maranatha head coach Tim Tucker said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re going to go back to work on Monday and try our best to do what we need to do.”
Tucker won two CIF championships when he was head coach at Pasadena. He took over as Maranatha head coach two years with the expectation of turning the program into a Southland power.
The Minutemen were earmarked for the prestigious open division by many pundits at the start of the season, but finished 15-8 and weren’t chosen. An illness to 6-foot-10 post standout Trevor Stanback likely kept Maranatha from being the elite team most thought it would become. The Minutemen host Milken in (10-16) in Wednesday’s first round.
“I’m not happy we didn’t make the open division, but I think it was the right call because we don’t have all our players,” Tucker said. “If we had Stanback, then by all means, put us in the open.
“This one seed is probably one of the toughest seeds around. You’re the one and everybody is gunning for you.”
La Canada and South Pasadena split the Rio Hondo League this season and both drew home games in the Division 3A first round on Wednesday. The Tigers host Burroughs of Ridgecrest while La Canada hosts Mission Valley League runner-up South El Monte.
Also in Division 3A, Gabrielino hosts Monrovia in Wednesday’s first round. The Eagles made easy work of the Mission Valley League this season while Monrovia showed it can be dangerous by upsetting La Canada.
Pasadena parlayed winning the Pacific League into a first-round home game against Rosemead, which got an at-large berth, in Division 3AA. The Bulldogs are the division’s No. 9 overall seed. Muir needed an at-large bid in Division 4AA after finishing out of the top three in the Pacific League. The Mustangs got it, but are on the road against Excelsior Charter in Wednesday’s first round.
Keppel enters the Division 2AA playoffs as one of the hottest teams around. The Aztecs are on a 16-game win streak but face a tall test in such a rugged division. Keppel, the No. 6 overall seed, hosts Arroyo Grande in Friday’s first round.
Renaissance Academy played one of the toughest schedules around and should be ready for whatever Division 1AA holds. The Wildcats host Oxnard Pacifica in Friday’s first round.