While college has March Madness, high school has February fever. Yeah, I know that was corny as all get out, but Sunday saw the boys and girls basketball brackets released by the CIF. As one would expect, there were a few interesting subplots that were unveiled.
1) Citrus Belt and Baseline boys get respect
The CBL, while not necessarily known as a basketball power, were rewarded nicely in the Division II-AA seeding process. Eisenhower, winners of seven straight and 21 of 22, notched the No. 1 seed and have their best chance at winning a CIF title since Sean Marshall was playing for the Eagles. Redlands, who won its first 24 games before losing its final two,this week, got the No. 5 seed and could be a darkhorse, as it’s combination of size and outside shooting allow it to play a variety of style. REV, who beat Redlands and took Ike to triple OT two weeks ago, got the No. 16 seed and can run and gun with the best of them.
As far as the Baseline League was concerned, the league notched three of the top nine seeds in Division I-A, led by No. 2 seed Etiwanda. The 25-1 Eagles don’t have any stars, but can bring waves of athletic players and is comfortable in a variety of style. This is definitely their best team since the Jeff Pendergraph-Darren Collison state tournament team of 2005. Rancho Cucamonga, the No. 6 seed, has two dynamic guards in Nick Bennett and Justin Long and a rangy post in 6-foot-8 Teminiro E-Nunu. As far as No. 9 seed Upland, it will punch you in the mouth up front with 6-8 Kevin Bradshaw, 6-6 bull Thomas Colbert and 6-9 forward Zach Robbins. If senior point guard Danny Redmon stays healthy, this is a team to watch.
2. Showdown in Division II-A girls?
While Miller was no surprise as the top seed in D2-AA, D2-A could end with a titanic struggle between No. 1 seed Ayala and No. 2 seed Cajon. Ayala, the Sierra League champion, knows the drills, having won a CIF championship a year ago. With UCLA-bound Rebekah Gardner and Oregon-bound Jasmine Holliday leading the way, the Bulldogs are legit. Cajon, which has made the San Andreas League its personal playground, is looking to advance to an elusive CIF final. The Cowgirls, who have been knocked out during the quarterfinals the past two years, ratcheted up their non-league schedule this season in hopes of getting over the hump. It will be interesting to see if they do.
3. Smaller division teams to watch
On the boys side, D4-A boasts defending CIF champion Twentynine Palms. The Wildcats boast junior Montreal Harris, who averages 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. In Division 4-AA, No. 2 seed Aquinas is a team to keep an eye on. The Falcons have won 13 straight games and are led by Cory Holloman, who averages 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
On the girls side, there could be a collison between No. 1 seed Colony and No. 2 seed Silverado. The Titans are led by Arizona-bound guard Amani Butler and have seen the young players grow around her, while the Hawks look to defend a CIF title of their own.