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February 15, 2014

CIF-SS Open Division Playoffs: some observations

The Southern Section released the teams selected for the inaugural Open Division Friday and there were no major surprises among the 16 teams chosen to participate in a tournament designed to put all the top teams together, creating a three-week Super tournament.

Sierra Canyon (25-2) and Chaminade (22-4) were the only two Daily New area programs chosen to compete against the likes of Mater Dei (27-0), Loyola (24-2), Corona Centennial, Redondo Union, J.W. North, St. John Bosco, Compton, Chino Hills, Mayfair, Mission Viejo, Cathedral, Bishop Montgomery, Serra and Cantwell Sacred-Heart.

Only the teams participating were selected Friday. The seedings and parings will be announced Sunday along with the other 11 divisions.

"Let's go win it," Chaminade coach Todd Wolfson said. "It is what it is. I think we are one of the top 16 teams in the section. The only thing I didn't like about the whole thing was the guessing game all year. Are we going to be in or are we not going to be in? There needed to be laid out criteria to determine what teams go. There needs to be some set guidelines."

Chaminade, which handed a full-strength Loyola team its only defeat until the Cubs lost to Alemany earlier this week without Parker Jackson-Cartwright, would have been a strong favorite to win the Div. 3-A championship.

"I think we are one of the top five teams," Wolfson said. "We won't be seeded that high. It's going to be a problem for the team that draws us. Every game in the bracket is going to be good. Every game is going to be up in-the-air."

Sierra Canyon, whose only losses came against Loyola and Price, have a chance to be seeded in the top eight and draw a home game after going undefeated in the Alpha League.

The Trailblazers own a quality victory against Bishop O'Dowd and its 6-foot-10 junior center Ivan Rabb.

Sierra Canyon won the Simi Valley tournament and Ventura County Classic.

Coach Ty Nichols' squad features two upperclassmen, sophomore Devearl Ramsey and four outstanding freshmen, led by 6-foot-7 Cody Riley and 6-foot-8 Ira Lee.

Sierra Canyon, despite its youth and inexperience at the high school level, showed great maturity and composure in four very close league victories by six points or less.

"Obviously, it's all come together more quickly than we anticipated," Nichols said. "We're happy to compete against the best. It's an honor to be selected. We would have been happy to be in our own division. There are no guarantees there with Village Christian, Windward, Price, Campbell Hall and the other teams."

Not being selected benefited a couple local programs.

Village Christian's chances in Div. IV-A increased significantly with Sierra Canyon and Cantwell Sacred-Heart plucked.

Alemany, after not making the playoffs last year, could be seeded No. 1 in Div. I-A after J.W. North was selected.

Some teams like the Open Division. Some teams don't. Some people like it. Some people don't.

One thing is for certain.

The games should be competitive and a lot of fun.

If only all the games could be played in one gym.



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