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 B.
(2) Harvard-Westlake vs. (7) St. Bernard
There are few programs on the west coast that boast a better starting five than Harvard-Westlake. From guardsand to wings and and the big man in the middle , you’re looking at five legitimate Division 1 college players. While each of those five players have individual talents that make them high level high school players what makes the Wolverines so tough to deal with is that they are all willing to play together. Harvard-Westlake has been successful by sharing the basketball, playing within their system and passing up good shots for great ones.
St. Bernard is looking to play the major spoiler of the Open Division as a late-season win over fourth-seeded Bishop Montgomery in Del Rey League action sealed its spot in the top playoff bracket. The Vikings, led by reigning CIF-SS Division 1 Player of the Year, are the type of team that could score an upset due to their style of play. St. Bernard really speeds the game up with their full-court pressure and half-court trapping defenses but the question is: can the Vikings take Harvard-Westlake out of its game plan enough and convert those turnovers into points on the other end?
(3) West Ranch vs. (6) St. John Bosco
West Ranch was the team everyone thought that – on paper – was a preseason lock for the Open Division. With returners, a Boise State-commit, , a talented combo guard, , a freakishly-athletic wing, and long, athletic slasher Isaiah Fields to go along with transfers and , Jr., the Wildcats possessed an immense level of talent. That “on paper” stipulation always seemed to pop up in conversations about West Ranch and if the old guard could mesh with the new faces and 27 wins, one loss and a third-seed in the Open later, that question was answered. The Wildcats have the talent to play with anyone and Bosco should be a formidable opponent.
Bosco is a dangerous team because you know it will always be tough and well-coached with Matt Dunn patrolling the sidelines, and when you add in the fact that they have a talented roster to boot, the Braves are not to be taken lightly. Sophomoresand along with junior scorer and senior center Xinyi Li are the four main pieces on the offensive end for Bosco but the wildcard could be freshman guard Brandon McCoy, Jr. who suited up for the first time this season on Jan. 6th and has added another layer of scoring to the Braves lineup. As you can see, however, three of Bosco’s top four players are underclassmen and a storyline to watch will be how those young players react in the high-stakes environment.