Twenty teams have qualified for the high school post-season in three sports.
Eight area boys’ basketball teams and eight girls’ squads are headed to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. They will be joined by four water polo teams.
The playoff pairings were decided Sunday with boys and girls’ soccer set to be released Monday.
In boys’ basketball, Desert Valley League champion Palm Desert, DeAnza League winner Shadow Hills and Majestic League champ Desert Chapel lead the way.
Six games are set for Wednesday and all games are at home led by the Aztecs, who just rolled through to a 12-0 record in the DVL. They earned a No. 13 seed and enter at 18-5 overall and host South Hills (13-14) , an at-large team out of the Sierra League in Div. III-AA.
A total of 361 entries are among 12 divisions and are looking for that finale March 7-8 at Azusa Pacific University, Godinez High School or the Honda Center.
In Div. III-A, Indio grabbed the 11 seed and hosts Estancia (9-17) another at-large squad from the Orange Coast League. The Rajahs (18-8) are looking for their first CIF victory since 2005.
“It’s all about the defense as we have to get after people and make our free throws,” said coach Ivery Thompson.
Also in Div. III-A, De Anza champ Shadow Hills (9-5) hosts Irvine (8-17).
Upstart Xavier could do some damage because the Saints play in Div. V-AAA. The Saints are the No. 8 seed (12-11) and host Coastal League Wildwood (13-8) from Los Angeles.
Also on Wednesday, Desert Christian Academy (9-13) is at home to Faith Baptist (10-10) and Calvary Baptist (9-12) travels to Palm Valley(15-6) in Div. VI.
The Div. VI team to watch is Majestic League champion Desert Chapel. The Eagles (20-4) are ranked second and drew a bye. They’ll play Friday.
“We played hard all season and now it’s time to show that hard work in the playoffs,” said coach Alfonso Alvarez. “We’re going to have to step up the intensity even more and continue to play tough defense; stay strong, stay together.
“With our big three: Taner Alvarez, Roman Pellum and Jaleel Miles, I like our chances.”
Last year, Desert Chapel advanced to the Final Four.
Also on Friday, La Quinta (13-13) opens play in Div. 1-A. The Blackhawks travel to Fullerton to face Troy (17-10), the No. 13 seed out of the Freeway League.
There were 344 entries qualified in 12 divisions with each vying for that coveted finale at Azusa Pacific University or Godinez High School on March 7-8.
There were 270 teams that finished in the top half of their league standings. Another 74 teams qualified at-large. Two of them from the Desert Valley League shared the league title, but will compete in different divisions, listed according to enrollment.
La Quinta is among the largest schools and will compete in Div. 1-AA on Saturday. The Blackhawks drew a tough opponent in No. 10 seed Roosevelt, which earned an at-large bid out of the Big VIII League with its 19-7 overall record.
“I’m just glad to have a home game,” said La Quinta coach Ty Thomas. “Any opponent in Div. 1-AA was going to be tough and I told the girls a while ago that this would be the scenario. We just need to have a good week of practice and just go play.”
Indio plays in Div. II-A and also earned a home game Saturday. The Rajahs are the No. 14 seed (18-7 overall) and host Redlands East Valley (15-11).
“This is the first year where we haven’t had a lot of experience but this group of girls play intense defense and have a lot of toughness and grit,” said Indio coach Martin White. “They have won beautiful and ugly games all season.”
Palm Springs and Palm Desert are both among the Div. III-AA entries. The Indians will host No. 8 seed Murrieta Mesa and at-large team out of the Southwestern League and Palm Desert is on the road at No. 15 seed Wilson of Hacienda Heights. Wilson was the Valley Vista No.2.
In the DeAnza League, Desert Hot Springs placed third at 12-9 and heads on the road to No. 10 Bellflower while Shadow Hills is in thanks to an at-large bid and plays at Oak Park. Both games are in Div. III-A.
Two Div. VI teams are out of the Majestic League, including league champ Desert Chapel and runner up Palm Valley. Both play at home. The Eagles host Waverly and the Firebirds host Pacific Hills.
A total of 140 water polo teams teams will battle for seven divisional championships starting Tuesday in a single-elimination format. Four Desert Valley League teams qualified in Div. VI for a chance at the championships March 1 in Irvine at the William J. Wollett, Jr. Aquatics Center.
In the 16-team, 24-team bracket DVL champ Palm Desert is the No. 2 seed behind defending champ Yorba Linda. The Empire League champ (22-7) is the lone team that topped the Aztecs this season in divisional play. The Aztecs 24-3 are primed for a run to the title match with a balanced attack and a solid defense. Palm Desert’s first game is Thursday as host to the winner of the Culver City/Tustin game.
All three other DVL teams play in wildcard games Tuesday. Runner up La Quinta (16-8) hosts Malibu, (10-12), the third place team out of the Tri-Valley League while both Xavier Prep and Palm Springs must travel.
Third-place Xavier (10-14) travels to Garden Grove to face Pacifica (15-13), the Empire League runner up. Palm Springs (10-6) earned an at-large bid and travels to Carpinteria to take on Cate School (11-2), the Tri-Valley runner up.