With eight boys’ basketball teams from the desert headed into the postseason, it’s worth taking a look at the brackets to see how difficult a road it will be for each of them to reach the championship of their respective divisions.
The teams that may have the best chances for deep playoff runs are two of the smallest: Desert Chapel, which grabbed the second seed in Division VI, and received a first-round bye after winning the Majestic League, and Xavier Prep (12-11, 7-5), which is the No. 8 seed in Division V-AA.
Desert Chapel (20-4, 14-0), while in the smallest division of any desert school in the playoffs, has the clearest road to the championship.
Xavier Prep, too, should have a good shot at a run, with its first home playoff game in school history against Wildwood (Los Angeles), the third-place team out of the Coastal League.
“We’re excited, we’re playing our best basketball right now,” said Xavier Prep head coach Mark Granger. “We’ve won six of our last seven, and I think we’re most excited about a home game. It’s our first in school history.”
Although the Saints finished tied for third in the Desert Valley League, they regularly play schools five to six times their size and now will face schools of a similar enrollment — around 450 — so they have a real chance of beating anyone in the division.
Palm Desert (19-5, 12-0), which was clearly the best team in the desert this year after cruising through the DVL undefeated, didn’t get much love from the CIF Division III-AA seeding committee, despite the fact that Aztec head coach Don Brady was on it.
They were given a 13 seed and will host South Hills (West Covina), an at large from the Sierra League, but will probably cross paths with fourth-seeded Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) in the second round.
Grabbing a favorable spot in the brackets was Indio (18-8, 8-4), which finished second in the DVL. The Rajahs are seeded 11th in Division III-A and have a home game against Estancia (Costa Mesa), an at-large team out of the Orange Coast League, to open the postseason. After that Indio would be looking at a No. 6 seed and a No. 3 seed; they wouldn’t have to face top-seeded Santa Barbara until the championship.
In that same division is De Anza League champ Shadow Hills (14-9, 9-1). They were not so lucky. While they get to host Firebaugh (Lynwood), an at large out of the Harbor League in the first round, they’ll likely have to play Santa Barbara in round two.
Desert Christian Academy (9-13, 8-4) finished third in the Victory League, but still was given a home game, in which they face Lucerne Valley, an at large from the Agape League. But that’s where the favors ended for the Conquerors as they’ll likely face top-seeded Renaissance Academy (La Canada) in the second round.
La Quinta (13-13, 7-5) has by far the toughest road of any desert squad. The Blackhawks were the only team from the valley to get sent on the road in the first round after finishing third in the DVL. On top of that, they’ll have to face 13th-seeded Troy (Fullerton) of the Freeway League. All of that is happening in Division I-A — the biggest and toughest division any desert team has to play in.
Not to be forgotten, tiny Palm Valley earned an eight seed in Division VI, the same division Desert Chapel plays in. The Firebirds have favorable matchups until they reach the quarterfinals where they should play top-seeded Trinity Classical Academy (Valencia).