Playoff time in boys basketball is here in Southern California and there’s no debating that the Open Division field is among the best postseason tournaments in the country. Not only are there a couple nationally-ranked teams as the top two…
Playoff time in boys basketball is here in Southern California and there’s no debating that the Open Division field is among the best postseason tournaments in the country. Not only are there a couple nationally-ranked teams as the top two seeds in the field but there is plenty of star power and Division 1 prospects in the mix. In this piece we take a look at the best of Friday night’s matchups in the Open Division’s first round of Pool A.
(1) Corona Centennial vs. (8) Sierra Canyon
How about this for a 1 vs. 8 playoff matchup? The defending champs, Centennial, will welcome a talented Trailblazers’ squad into their home gym and will largely touted as thevs. show. While the cameras will be baseline for those two talented players, the difference in the outcome of the game will likely come down to the contributions of two different guys: Centennial’s and Sierra Canyon’s .
McBride, Loyola Marymount-commit, is one of the most under-appreciated prospects in the country. The 6-foot-6 forward doesn’t have the prettiest or most flashy style of play to his game but his impact on winning is immeasurable. The senior is a high level offensive and defensive rebounder, elite transition finisher, and versatile and high IQ defender who guards five positions on the high school level.
Elohim is a different case than McBride as he’s widely considered one of the top junior prospects in the country but he’s missed several games due to injury. Sierra Canyon has desperately missed the scoring punch and offensive versatility that the 6-foot-4 wing brings to the floor and will certainly need him to keep pace with the state’s top team.
(4) Bishop Montgomery vs. (5) Sherman Oaks Notre Dame
Bishop ran off 18 wins to start the season before falling to second-seeded Harvard-Westlake in an epic three overtime game at Redondo Union’s Take Flight Challenge on Jan. 7th. Bishop rebounded nicely to finish the season 25-2 and head into the first pool play game against a team that brings a little different style than how it operates. Montgomery is the type of team that grinds you down on the defensive end, looks to limit the opponents offensive possessions and runs its offense with crisp cutting, screening and passing and has the veteran talent of, LaQwon Cole, , Will Smith and Kelcy Phipps to rely on.
Notre Dame on the other hand has one of the more gifted “Big 3s” that you’ll find anywhere in Duke-bound guard, Gonzaga-signee and Houston-commit . Those three high major perimeter players have a lot of freedom on the offensive end and look to push the pace and speed up the tempo – the antithesis of how Bishop Montgomery wants to play. The theme of “contrasting styles” is a true factor here but what could decide the outcome of this game is depth – or a lack thereof.
Both Notre Dame and Bishop Montgomery have starting fives that play the majority of the team’s minutes and if one or two of those players get into early foul trouble, we’ll see which bench can provide the necessary spark.