We could spend a column and a day to debate. With the CIF’s newish competitive-equity basketball playoff model in place, all is up for argument.
The days of cookie-cutting section championships and baking them into an enrollment-based bracket are long gone. With the CIF Northern California regional jammed into seven days rather than 11, we have to get right to it.
The NorCal regional finals land on a Tuesday (March 5), and will be played at home sites, not multiple games at a big venue like before. The state finals are March 8-9 at Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento.
First-round games begin Tuesday, except for the Open Division, which starts Wednesday.
Open Division. Top seed: Salesian (31-0). Top player: Marcus Bagley (Sheldon-Sacrament, 6-8 junior brother of the NBA Kings’ Marvin Bagley). Others to watch: McClanahan twins, JoVon and Jaden (Salesian); Devan Sapp (Mitty, WCAL Player of the Year); Thomas Gregorios (De La Salle-Concord); Alex Merkviladze (Modesto Christian); Donjae’ Lindsay (Weston Ranch-Stockton). Best first-round game: No. 6 Weston Ranch (31-1) at No. 3 De La Salle (28-3). Briefly: Sheldon won the Sac Joaquin Section D1 title without Bagley, out with a back problem. He should return for NorCals. … Salesian, ranked fifth nationally by MaxPreps, has lost three straight NorCal Open first-round games, including last season when its 30-1 team was upset by Folsom. Predicted winner: Salesian.
Division 1. Top seed: James Logan-Union City (24-6). Top player: Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno). Others to watch: Thompson cousins, Brahjon and Brett (James Logan); Viktor Rajkovic (Branson-Ross); Bryce Monroe (Riordan); Je’Lani Clark (Riordan); Robby Beasley (Dublin); Keshad Johnson (San Leandro). Best first-round game: No. 13 San Joaquin Memorial (12-10) at No. 4 Dublin (25-5). Briefly: Sixth-seeded Moreau Catholic-Hayward (24-7) and No. 10 Sacred Heart Cathedral (13-14) won section titles utilizing balanced attacks. … No. 12 Bishop O’Dowd (21-8) and No. 11 Bellarmine (20-7) have been Chronicle Top 10 teams almost all season. … CIF officials admitted two league opponents like O’Dowd and San Leandro (24-5) shouldn’t have played a first-round game. … Ten of the 14 teams were in last week’s Chronicle Top 20. Predicted winner: No. 2 Branson (29-2).
Open Division. Top seed: Mitty (25-2). Top player: Haley Jones (Mitty, Stanford signee). Other top players: Angel Jackson (Salesian, USC signee); Hannah Jump (Pinewood-Los Altos Hills, Stanford signee); Ali Bamberger (Carondelet-Concord, Washington signee); Zhande Duckett (St. Joseph Notre Dame). Best first-round game: No. 5 St. Joseph (22-7) at No. 4 Salesian (23-8). Briefly: Second-seeded Carondelet, a senior-heavy team, is extremely motivated after the school suspended the team for breaking school rules just prior to NorCals. It forfeited its first-round game at Pinewood. … Mitty and second-seeded Pinewood have a first-round bye. … Pinewood hopes history repeats, having lost to Mitty in the 2018 CCS finals — as it did Friday — before winning a triple-OT thriller over the Monarchs in the NorCal Open final last season. Predicted winner: Mitty has endured excruciating season-ending losses each of the past two years. Don’t expect a third.
Division 1: Top seed: Sacramento (25-7). Top player: Jordan Sweeney (Heritage-Brentwood). Other top players: Maddie Ennis (St. Ignatius); Kennedy Johnson (Bishop O’Dowd); Jada Holland (O’Dowd); Mia Mastrov (Miramonte-Orinda); Abi Muse (Heritage); Anya Choice (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa); Tameiya Sadler (SPSV). Best first-round game: No. 12 St. Ignatius (16-10) at No. 5 Miramonte-Orinda. Briefly: No. 4 O’Dowd (20-9) beat No. 5 Miramonte 64-59 for the NCS D2 title Saturday. … Sadler is making a case for first-team All-Metro by averaging 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 7.6 assists per game. Sadler and SPSV will face one of the Sac Joaquin Section’s top players in 5-9 sophomore Jzaniya Harriel (23.1 points, 12.5 rebounds per game). Predicted winner: No. 5 Miramonte (27-3).
State wrestling: At Fresno, De La Salle senior Kyle Parco was the lone Metro boy to bring home a state title, with a 132-pound crown after a 1-0 win over Clovis North sophomore Ryan Franco. Freedom-Oakland senior Dalia Garibay (137), College Park-Pleasant Hill freshman Amit Elor (150), Arroyo-San Lorenzo junior Alia Abushi and Menlo-Atherton senior Folashade Akinola (189) all won state girls championships. Menlo-Atherton’s girls (92 points) placed second behind San Fernando (104).
MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/What-to-expect-from-boys-and-girls-high-13644683.php.