CCS Playoffs are already underway in most divisions, with teams vying for their place in Bay Area history and shot at a California State Title. One of the most intriguing divisions around the Bay has not yet begun: the newly formed CCS Open Division. Their tournament begins tonight.
The Central Coast Section announced late last year that they would create an Open Division in their Basketball playoffs beginning in 2013. There had been argument that Private Schools from the West Catholic League were dominating section playoff brackets – and that public schools had little chance to win a banner.
Before the Open Division, schools were bracketed by their enrollment. For Example the top 4 seeds in the West Catholic League this year would have been No. 1 seeds in Divisions 2, 3, and possibly 4. The creation of the Open Division pulls the top 8 teams from the section and pits them against each other with all teams receiving a berth in the CIF Northern California tournament in a couple of weeks.
So what can we expect from the opening round of the Open Division? Lets take a look at the match ups:
#1 Mitty (San Jose) v #8 Soquel
Archbishop Mitty is a favorite in this bracket with top-recruit Aaron Gordon leading a powerful Monarch squad back towards another state title. Soquel earned their invitation to the Open Division by way of their league championship in the Santa Cruz Coast league. The Knights are driven by three double-digit scorers, with Cody Valcarcel leading the team at 12.2 points per game. Soquel gets a tough draw, but should get a nice seeding in Division 4 in NorCals. Projection: Mitty 74, Soquel 39
#2 Serra (San Mateo) v #7 El Camino (South San Francisco)
Serra is also a favorite in this new Open Division as they are the only WCAL squad to knock off Mitty this year. Henry Caruso and Jacqui Biggins are leading the Padres towards their first section banner since 2006. El Camino gets a tough draw as well, but the dynamic Michael Smith and Elijah White could cause problems for Serra. The Padres may be missing powerful center Matt Jajeh, who was out for last weeks West Catholic final with an injury. The Colts can push the pace, but Serra will push right back. Projection: Serra 65, El Camino 53.
#3 Sacred Heart Cathedral (SF) v #6 Piedmont Hills (San Jose)
Sacred Heart Cathedral has had an up-and-down year finishing 16-10 with 6 league losses, 2 to Mitty and and 1 to Serra (although the Irish did defeat Serra at the start of the year). Either way, the Irish are a solid squad that will have some chances in the Division 3 bracket in the CIF tournament. Piedmont Hills is reeling after their overtime defeat in the Blossom Valley tournament final last week. Never the less, they find themselves in the CCS Open by way of power points. They have had a nice year with quality wins over Palma and Oakland Tech. Even still, it's doubtful they can break the luck of the Irish. Projection: SHC 52, Piedmont Hills 40.
#4 Riordan (San Francisco) v #5 Palo Alto
Palo Alto has the best record in the section(23-1), and would be very difficult to beat in Division 1 even with Bellarmine in the field. Aubrey Dawkins and Aldis Petriceks have led the Vikings to a De Anza Division title and a spot in the Open Division field. Archbishop Riordan, on the other hand, is the fourth place team in the WCAL – but they have been getting better and better each game. In fact, the Crusaders have won 7 of their last 10, with Frankie Ferrari pacing a team that could be a Cinderella in CIF division 4. Projection: Palo Alto 61, Riordan 58 (OT?)
You can catch highlights of CCS Playoffs on Cal Hi Sports Bay Area Tuesday afternoon on CSN-California.