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Boys' basketball: Two more battles in Open Division semifinals

March 9, 2013 |  8:14 am

It's less than 24 hours since Long Beach Poly and Westchester (see above video) won their opening games of the CIF Southern California Open Division playoffs with dramatic endings, but it's time to start thinking about the two terrific semifinal battles on Tuesday: Poly at Mater Dei and Westchester at Etiwanda.

If Westchester can get to 50 points, it might topple top-seeded Etiwanda. But the Comets are facing a difficult challenge. They'll be facing a team that smothers opponents defensively. Westchester will try to send wave after wave of players in and out, but it won't bother the Eagles. The clear favorite is Etiwanda.

Now get ready for 19-time Southern Section champion Poly taking on 21-time champion Mater Dei. These two schools locked up in the Pac-5 football championship and Poly won. It's a battle between two of the leading candidates for Southern California player of the year: Stanley Johnson of Mater Dei and Roschon Prince of Poly.

If Poly can get other players to contribute offensively besides just relying on Prince and Jordan Bell, the Jackrabbits can win this game. Brandon Staton finally stepped up in the second half against St. John Bosco. Mater Dei will see from video that the Jackrabbits strugged against St. John Bosco's zone defense, so Poly will have to make some outside shots. That's where Ke'jhan Feagin can contribute.

Mater Dei needs point guard Jordan Strawberry and shooting guard Elijah Brown to have big games in support of Johnson, who has to stay out of foul trouble.

It has all the makings of a classic, and I'm beginning to think Poly can pull off the upset.

-- Eric Sondheimer