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Area Schools to be Well Represented in CIF-SS Basketball, Soccer Playoffs

 

February 10, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

Of the 31 basketball and soccer teams from the eight area schools, there will be 19 teams that will have their seasons extended as they have qualified for the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs with almost half of them winning or sharing for a league title. The first round of the playoffs for boys basketball and soccer start today with second round action on Tuesday and quarterfinal action on Friday while girls basketball and girls soccer begin on Saturday with second round action Wednesday and quarterfinal action on Feb. 19.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Division 4AA

Muir High/Mesrobian High @ #1 Artesia High (23-5 overall, 5-0 in the 605 League, first place)-The names of James Harden, Malik Story and others from the 2006-2007 team that won a CIF Division I-AA state title have been replaced by senior Miles Jennings, sophomores Aaron Banks and Zion Staples and others as the Pioneers enter the playoffs as the division’s top-seeded team. Artesia will host the winner of this past Wednesday’s wild card game and is ties with the best record in the division. The 23 wins are the most for the program and the five losses are the fewest since that state championship season. The Pioneers began the season with six straight wins and come into the playoffs having won 12 of their last 13 games.

Division 3AA

Cerritos High (9-14 overall, 4-1 in the 605 League, second place) @ #2 Chaparral High (19-6)-The Dons began the season with a pair of new co-head coaches and two wins in their first 14 games. But the team turned it around once league play began and despite having five games cancelled, four of which were non-league outings, Cerritos did just enough to finish in second place and earn one of the three automatic berths. However, the Dons will be in for a challenge against the second place team from the Southwestern League

“We really have to take a step up and take it to the next level,” said co-head coach Lance Convento. “We’re going to be playing teams that are either going to be at our level or above our level. It’s going to take all of us to come together to really clean things up, stay disciplined, and execute well. I don’t think we’ve really had our best game yet with everyone. I think we’re due for that.”

Division 5A

#8 John Glenn High (12-12 overall, 3-2 in the 605 League, third place) @ River Springs High (7-2)-The Cinderella story of the season comes out of Glenn where the Eagles, under first-year head coach Sam Abebe, had their best season in over 25 seasons and claimed a playoff berth for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. Before that, Glenn’s last postseason trip was in the 1999-2000 campaign.

“This team, if they started to listen to me, could accomplish these features,” said Abebe. “It took a while. At the end of the day, I have to understand where I’m at as well. Having six guys and being able to do this and having five [guys] for the first part of the season…it’s been a journey and I’m actually proud of them. They can hang their hats and be proud of themselves for what they have accomplished.”

Glenn makes the long road trip to the Hemet-based school to face a team that has played in nine games. Even more remarkable about the Eagles is that they have done this with anywhere from five to eight players. A win would most likely mean a rare home playoff game on Tuesday.

“We told them it’s [a] us against the world mentality,” said Abebe. “I know it’s real cliché and whatnot, but it’s really us against the world. A lot of these kids have gotten a lot of slack from a lot of students at this school saying they weren’t going to make the playoffs. I told them, ‘look, let them do the talking. Let that fuel the fire’. I think it’s fueled the fire.”

Division 2A

Beckman High (10-17) @ #14 La Mirada High (13-13 overall, 6-0 in the Suburban League, first place)-La Mirada has only been above .500 once this season, but that came when the Matadores were 2-1. At one point, they were 6-12, but had no problems in claiming the Suburban League. La Mirada will host the third place representatives from the Pacific Coast League.

Division 2AA

Valley Christian High (17-10 overall, 3-5 in the Olympic League, third place) @ #7 Los Altos High (21-4)-The Defenders had a slow start but won eight straight games to finish the regular season with a respectable record. V.C., led by senior Nathan Medina, one of the best to ever put on a V.C. uniform, will have its hands full with the champions of the Hacienda League.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Division 4AA

Artesia (13-10 overall, 2-3 in the 605 League, fourth place) @ #4 Heritage High (19-4, tied for first place in the Inland Valley League)-If the Pioneers are to get back to the divisional championship game like they did two seasons ago, they’ll have to survive a tougher bracket. Artesia, like most teams, had a tough time battling the Covid situation and had three games cancelled, two coming in league play. The team is also struggling, winning four times in the last 12 games.

Division 3AA

#9 Hesperia High (18-8) @ Cerritos (16-7 overall, 4-1 in the 605 League, tied for first place)-Despite sharing the league title with two other teams and hosting a first round game, the Dons will be facing a ranked team that finished in third place in the Mojave River League. At one point, Cerritos was sitting at 7-6 following losses to Whitney High and Aliso Niguel High.

Division 3AA

Norwalk High (15-10 overall, 4-2 in the Suburban League, second place) @ #2 Hart High (18-6)-The Lancers began the season at 11-2 but stumbled to win twice in six January games. It would take a miracle for Norwalk to pull off the upset against the second place team from the Foothill League.

Division 2A

Valley Christian (8-18 overall, 3-5 in the Olympic League, tied for third place) @ #12 Mary Star of the Sea High (18-4)-If the Glenn boys are the Cinderella story of the season, then the V.C. girls aren’t far behind. The Defenders lost their first 11 games, the completed the first round of league play with a 3-1 mark. A coin flip between three teams sent V.C. to the postseason where it will face the Santa Fe League champions.

Division 3AA

Whitney High (18-3 overall, 4-1 in the 605 League, tied for first place) @ #5 Riverside Poly High (20-6)-Whitney has been solid all season, winning its first six games, before losing by eight points to Kennedy High. The other two losses were to Hillcrest High by seven points and Cerritos by 20 points. All three came on the road. The Wildcats have played the season with eight players and a ninth was recently called up from the lower levels. Poly won the Sunbelt League and if one is looking ahead in the division, Cerritos and Whitney could meet in the semifinals.

BOYS SOCCER

Division 5

Animo Leadership/Hawthorne High @ #3 Artesia (18-1-1 overall, 5-0 in the 605 League, first place)-In the 2012-2013 season, Artesia went 22-1-4 but couldn’t get to the quarterfinals. The Pioneers are hoping for a deeper run in the playoffs as the program has won for straight league crowns but has not advanced to the semifinals since 2004. The lone loss came back on Dec. 2 against Norwalk, the second game of the season, and the Pioneers defense has allowed 12 goals with 11 shutouts.

Division 7

Cerritos (5-8-3 overall, 1-2-2 in the 605 League, third place) @ #9 St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy (8-3-2)-It took a third place play-in game for the Dons to advance to the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. Cerritos began the season with five shutout losses and a pair of 1-1 ties. But all that matters is how you do in league and that’s why the Dons are continuing their season.

Division 2

Paramount High (10-6-5) @ La Mirada (12-3-2 overall, 6-2-0 in the Suburban League, second place)-This is a preview of near future as the San Gabriel Valley League and Suburban League will join forces to form one big conference next academic school year. The Pirates came in third place while the Matadores, who lost twice to Norwalk, posted nine shutouts. The winner will travel to top-seeded Moorpark High, which drew a first round bye.

Division 2

Salesian High/Santa Monica High @ #2 Norwalk (14-1-2 overall, 8-0-0 in the Suburban League, first place)-The Lancers drew a first round bye and will not play until Tuesday. Norwalk’s lone setback was on Dec. 15 against Anaheim High (2-0) and since then, the Lancers have won nine straight contests. This the second time in four seasons the Lancers have lost one game. But the other time came in the second round.

Division 5

Diamond Ranch High/La Canada High @ #4 Valley Christian (15-2-2 overall, 8-0-0 in the Olympic League, first place)-Just like clockwork, V.C. won another league title and will host a wild card winner. The Defenders lost lack to back games on Dec. 11 and 17 and have yielded six goals in the other 17 games with 11 shutouts.

GIRLS SOCCER

Division 7

Samueli Academy (6-6-1) @ Artesia (5-12-1 overall, 3-1 in the 605 League, second place)-It wasn’t looking promising at the beginning of the season when Artesia started off 0-11-1. But thanks to a short league season that counted in the standings, the Pioneers won five of their last six games played despite having two league games cancelled. Samueli Academy is the second place team out of the Academy League. The winner will have the tough task of likely facing second-ranked Garey High.

Division 5

Montebello High (6-10-4) @ #8 Cerritos (12-1-3 overall, 4-0 in the 605 League, first place)-For most of the season, Cerritos was ranked towards the middle of the division. The lone setback came on Dec. 9 at Portola High and since then, the Dons have gone 11-0-2 with nine straight shutouts. Cerritos is looking to get to the second round for the second time in the past three seasons.

Division 1

Brea Olinda High (11-4-5) @ La Mirada (12-2-7 overall, 7-0-1 in the Suburban League, first place)-The defending Division 2 champions moved up a division and even with two losses, was unranked most of the season. Still, this a dangerous La Mirada squad with 13 shutouts and 10 goals given up. The Wildcats finished in second place in the North Hills League and the winner of this contest will most likely play top-ranked Santiago High out of Corona on Wednesday.

Division 4

Paramount High/Torrance High @ #8 Valley Christian (13-4-3 overall, 7-0-1 in the Olympic League, first place)-Since Jan. 4, V.C. has given up five goals with shutouts in seven league games. For the season, the Defenders have blanked 11 opponents. V.C. is on pace to possibly face top-ranked Granite Hills High out of Apple Valley in the quarterfinals.

 

 

 

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