Boys' basketball: Santa Monica is No. 1 seed but has tough road ahead
Santa Monica fans should be celebrating a well-earned No. 1 seed for the Vikings in the revamped Division I state basketball playoffs, but the road to make it to Sacramento won't be easy.
With Etiwanda, Mater Dei, Long Beach Poly, Westchester and El Camino Real all removed from Division I and placed in the Open Division, it leaves a 16-team bracket in which any number of teams could get hot and make it to Sacramento.
The potential roadblocks for Santa Monica include Mission Viejo in the second round and more troublesome an Inglewood team that the Vikings beat twice in league play in close games.
In the bottom of the bracket, Loyola, a 1AA quarterfinalist, looms large with a healthy Parker Jackson-Cartwright and an improving Trey Mason.
If it's a Loyola-Santa Monica final, it would be the third meeting between the two schools. They played in a scrimmage and Loyola won twice in close nonleague games.
The two coaches, Santa Monica's James Hecht and Loyola's Jamal Adams, know each other well.
The finals will take place at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on March 16 at 4 p.m. The winner would advance to the state championship game on March 22 at 8 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena.
-- Eric Sondheimer