The CIF State Basketball Championships begin Wednesday with first-round playoff action in the Southern California regionals.
There will be two regional games inside Tulare County lines Wednesday with the Mission Oak girls and Porterville boys hosting Division III opponents.
The Mission Oak girls game was moved to 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Here’s a look a the CIF Southern California regional first-round playoff games:
No. 9 Mission Oak (29-2) at No. 8 Santa Barbara (28-5): The Hawks ended the Central Section with a disappointing 64-49 loss to Hanford in the Division II title game, a team that they beat twice during the regular season. This marks Mission Oak’s second appearance in a Southern California regional. In 2013, the Hawks almost pulled off a first-round upset, falling 74-72 to Damien-La Verne. This should be a competitive game. Mission Oak is ranked No. 129 in the state by Maxpreps.com. Santa Barbara is No. 94.
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Santa Barbara High School
Mission Oak scouting report: Mission Oak had its worst offensive performance of the season in Friday’s loss to Hanford. The Hawks, who have the second-best scoring average in the Central Section (72.2 points per game), was held to 35.4-percent shooting from the field. They went 14 minutes between field goals at one point. If there was any good news about Friday’s game was the return to form by junior stalwart Austin Molezzo, who had a game-high 24 points. With a healthy Molezzo and a better shooting performance from the others, the Hawks have to like their chances against Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara scouting report: The Dons didn’t even advance to its section final. They lost 61-58 to Redlands East Valley in the Southern Section 2A semifinals. The Dons do feature one of the Southern Section’s top sharp shooters in junior swingman Bolden Brace. Brace is listed as the No. 83 player in the state for the Class of 2016 by ESPN.com, and the nation’s No. 69 small forward. He had 31 points in the loss to Redlands East Valley, knocking down eight 3-pointers.
The skinny: It doesn’t happy very often when a Central Section runner-up like the Hawks have a very legitimate chance to open up the Southern California regional tournament on the road with a win. By having Santa Barbara hosting this game, it doesn’t help the notion that the CIF state commissioners don’t think much of Central Section basketball. The Dons lost in the section semifinals of their section playoffs, yet, they get to host a first-round regional game. A Mission Oak win would be a great feather in the cap of a terrific season by the Hawks, and help raise doubts among the powers-that-be that perhaps the Southern Section isn’t as stout as its long-standing perception. Awaiting the winner is a likely quarterfinal date against La Costa Canyon, ranked No. 39 in the state by Maxpreps.com. What’s interesting about this Southern California bracket is that Mission Oak was ranked as the fourth-best Division II team in Southern California by Cal-Hi Sports, the state’s top human poll, last week. Compton was No. 1. La Costa Canyon and Santa Barbara were listed as bubble teams. The majority of the state’s top Division II teams are in the North. Mission Oak was ranked No. 9 amongst the state’s Division II teams by Cal-Hi Sports in last week’s poll.
No. 9 Gahr-Cerritos (25-7) at No. 8 Porterville (21-7): The Panthers are hosting a CIF Southern California regional game at Bill Sharman Gymnasium for the first time after capturing their first Central Section title Saturday with a sound 89-72 win over West. They will face a Gahr squad that might be one of the two most formidable teams the Panthers have faced under head coach Lance Wallace since 1999. Gahr is ranked No. 62 in the state by Maxpreps (Porterville is listed at No. 227). Gahr fell to Sonora in the final of the Southern Section Division 3AA bracket. Gahr features one of the better offenses in the state. The Gladiators are averaging 78.0 points per game. Winner takes on No. 1 Cathedral (20-7) in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Cathedral is ranked No. 11 in the state by Maxpreps.com and No. 49 in the nation.
No. 14 Granite Hills (21-6) at No. 3 Crespi-Encino (25-7): In a game where many predicted that there would be a running clock in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies put up an admirable battle in a 70-50 loss to No. 1 Immanuel in Saturday’s Central Section Division IV final. Kilon Bradford, the Central Section’s leading scorer (28.3 points per game), matched Immanuel star Colin Slater with 25 points. Crespi won the Southern Section 4AA championship with a 61-52 win over Mission Prep-San Luis Obispo in the final. The Celts were 19-of-19 from the free-throw line against Mission Prep. Crespi is ranked No. 47 in the state by Maxpreps.com. Immanuel is the No. 1 seed in this bracket, and will host a quarterfinal game on Saturday.
No. 9 South Hills-West Covina (23-7) at No. 8 Mission Oak (27-5): The Hawks’ glorious season continues with the school’s first CIF Southern California regional playoff game at home. Mission Oak won the school’s first Central Section championship in any sport with Saturday’s 53-50 win over top-seeded Fresno in the Division III final at Selland Arena.
Tip-off: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mission Oak High School
South Hills scouting report: The Huskies were the co-champions of the Southern Section’s Palomares League, and was a semifinalist in the Southern Section Division 3AA playoff bracket. The Huskies are ranked No. 163 in the state by Maxpreps.com. South Hills was ranked as the No. 1 team in the San Gabriel Valley all season by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Top two players are Brittany and Denise Wang, and they both love to shoot it from the perimeter. Brittany Wang averaged over 20 points per game during the Southern Section playoffs.
Mission Oak scouting report: The Hawks’ history-making season not only includes the school’s first Central Section title in any sport, but also the program’s first East Yosemite League championship, their first 20- and 25-win season, and a school-record 16-game winning streak (which the Hawks are currently on). Maxpreps lists Mission Oak as the No. 225 team in the state. The Hawks feature one of the Central Section’s better trios in junior forward Tristen Myers (averaging double-figures in points and rebounds per game) and freshman guards Kambryia Elzy and Rhegan Fernandes. Myers is a consistent source of point production throughout the game, and Elzy and Fernandes have developed a knack of playing their best at critical junctures — the duo combined for 16 of the Hawks’ 19 fourth-quarter points in Saturday’s win over Fresno.
No. 10 Orosi (27-3) at No. 7 Bishop Montgomery-Torrance (19-13): Orosi was very disappointed that it didn’t win the Central Section Division IV championship (the Cardinals fell 44-32 to Immanuel in the final). Bishop Montgomery (19-13) won the Southern Section Division 4AA crown with a 59-49 upset win over JSerra Catholic, the No. 1 seed. The Knights are a perennial parochial school power (the school draws students from the South Bay area — Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach). They defeated Exeter 61-27 in last year’s regional tournament. This should be a good clash of strengths. Orosi fields one of the top defenses in the Central Section. Bishop Montgomery is averaging over 60 points per game.