Boys' basketball: Open Division games could be epic
In Southern California, the Open Division games of the CIF Southern California state playoffs begin Friday night, and it's definitely the big boys division. There are no weak teams. Any team that shows up hoping to win on its reputation or resume will have its season come to an immediate end.
Long Beach Poly vs. St. John Bosco at Cerritos College: This game is so good it could be for the regional championship. Poly beat the Braves at the Nike Extravaganza when St. John Bosco's Isaac Hamilton didn't play because of a disciplinary suspension. St. John Bosco looked terrific in the 3A championship game against Chaminade. But Poly plays defense like few other teams. Just ask Etiwanda how good the Jackrabbits are. They've had time off to heal, prepare and get even more physical. The pick: Poly.
Westchester at Fresno Bullard: A year ago, Westchester made the long trip to Fresno and was routed by Bullard, 68-53. Bullard could be just as good, but this is a different Westchester team. The Comets have shown they can play against top teams, and City Section teams surprised everyone with their performances on Wednesday in the Division I playoffs. It would be an upset if Westchester won. The pick: Westchester.
El Camino Real at Mater Dei: The Conquistadores' big three of Julian Richardson, Michael Thomas and Maleke Haynes were not at their best in a loss to Westchester last week. This is an opportunity to have some fun and do their best against a very good opponent. Mater Dei had few assists last week in a loss to Etiwanda. The Monarchs need to get back to sharing the basketball. The pick: Mater Dei.
-- Eric Sondheimer