Above: Citrus College celebrated a CCCAA men’s basketball state title in 2008. Can the Owls do it again in a few weeks?
There were no surprises Monday when the California Community College Athletic Association released pairings for the state basketball playoffs.
The Citrus College men’s team, ranked as high as No. 1 in the state, received the No. 2 seed in the Southern California Regional as expected, while the women’s and men’s teams at Mt. San Antonio College, also as expected, received the Nos. 3 and 5 seeds, in their respective SoCal Regional tournaments. The Pasadena City women’s team, after beating Mt. SAC, 64-62 last week, moved up from its No. 5 ranking to take the No. 4 seed in Southern California. The Lancers won the CCCAA title last year.
The tournament begins Wednesday with quarterfinal play-in games, with regional semifinals scheduled for Friday and Saturday. This weekend’s winners advance to the regional finals on March 6, with the CCCAA Elite Eight tournament slated for March 11-14 at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.
Citrus (26-2), which won a CCCAA title in 2008 and advanced to the regional finals last season, will face either Santa Ana (12-14) or Los Angeles Trade Tech (14-8) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Mt. SAC will host a doubleheader on Friday. The women’s team (22-6), which has won four CCCAA titles since 2004, faces Mt. San Jacinto (23-5) at 5:30 p.m. The men’s team (24-4) faces Cerritos (18-10) at 7:30.
PCC (23-4) will host No. 12 Irvine Valley (20-7) at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“(It went like) we expected,” said Citrus coach Rick Croy, whose team went undefeated in the Western State Conference South Division for the second consecutive season this winter. “We thought (San Bernardino Valley) would get the No. 1 and that we deserved the No. 2, and we’re excited about it.”
Citrus comes into the tournament on a roll. The Owls, led by Keith Thompson (12 points per game), have won 17 consecutive games, with their only two losses coming in back-to-back games to College of the Sequoias and Mt. SAC in December. Sequoias is the No. 9 seed in the North.
Citrus gets either Trade Tech, who it beat, 86-79, in January, or Santa Ana, which recently beat No. 6 Saddleback.
“We’re excited,” said Croy, whose team received the No. 2 seed for the second consecutive season. “We worked hard to get (the No. 2) seed by going undefeated in a tough conference. Now we begin a new chapter.”
The Mt. SAC’s men, which won the South Coast Conference North Division for the first time since 2005 under first-year coach Allen Caveness, is also on a roll. The Mounties, led by Antonio Biglow (21.1 ppg) have won 13 of their last 15 games, including going 8-0 in divisional play. The two losses are to Citrus and Saddleback, who are both in the tournament.
Mt. SAC will open the playoffs in what will seem like a SCC championship game. Cerritos won the SCC South. Mt. SAC also received consideration for a top-four seed, but the No. 4 spot went to Irvine Valley (24-4).
“I knew we were going to have a great opportunity to get it,” Caveness said. “But like I told the kids today, we can’t worry about what we can’t control. Our focus is what we can control, and at the end of the day, we are still going to have to beat some good teams anyway.”
The Mt. SAC women, led by Brittney Lewis (11.8 ppg), have also played good down the stretch, winning 10 of its last 11 games to secure an SCC North outright title for the second consecutive season. The visiting Eagles shared the Foothill Conference title with Antelope Valley and San Bernardino Valley.
PCC, led by Kim Smith (17.5 ppg), has won four of its last five games and also handed No. 2 seed Ventura its only loss of the season. Irvine Valley finished third in the Orange Empire Conference.