St. Ignatius girls slighted most in CIF pairings

Our annual breakdown of northern and southern regional playoffs reveals some injustices, some tough decisions and some potentially interesting road trips. We realize how difficult it is for those doing the pairings when they're analyzing results and teams from championships that literally were determined only hours earlier and we salute their dedication to high school athletics.

Still, it's fun to pick apart the pairings and stick up for schools and athletes who deserved better. And our pick for the one team that got the worst draw in the entire state (boys or girls, north or south) is the St. Ignatius of San Francisco girls.

After ending San Jose Mitty's nine-year run of titles in the CIF Central Coast Section with a 53-46 win in the Div. I final on Friday, the Wildcats might have legitimately thought their 25-5 record compiled mostly against strong Girls Private School League competition was going to be good enough for a No. 2 seed in the northern regionals. It wasn't close. The NorCal pairings committee put the S.I. girls at No. 6, behind even Oakland Tech (19-8).

We can see how Berkeley would get picked ahead of S.I. with its strength of schedule and history of doing well in the NorCal tourney. But Kennedy? Or Oakland Tech, which had to win twice in its league playoffs just to get in? S.I. will open the NorCal playoffs at home on Tuesday against S.F. Washington in an outbracket game and then will have to play on the road the next night against Berkeley. The S.I. girls, for all they've done this year, definitely should not have been given an out-bracket game. Pittsburg didn't even win its section title game and doesn't have to play an outbracket game.

The outbracket games in the north, which are played to accomodate two entries each for the tiny Oakland, San Francisco and Northern sections, also brings up the other major injustice in the state playoffs. How come the second-place Div. I teams from San Diego and the Central sections don't get to move on in the regionals while those from every other section in the state, including Oakland (6 schools) and San Francisco (10 schools), do?

The answer is political dealmaking. It goes something like this: The Central and San Diego sections don't create a fuss about not getting two teams into the Div. I south playoffs (so that the Southern gets four and L.A. City two) in return for its two Div. I winners being able to play guaranteed first-round games at home. Therefore, we'd like to offer a special salute to the El Camino of Oceanside boys, Clovis boys, Poway girls and Redwood of Visalia girls. You should still be playing and you should be screaming mad that you're not.

Next year, the Southern Section is going to start having three Div. I champions instead of two, so it's possible the Div. I south regionals will be revamped with six Southern Section entrants, two from L.A., two from the Central and two from San Diego. The 12-team field will simply have to be paired down with an earlier-round series of games, just as its now done in the north.

Here's our comments about the pairings in each division of the state:

Div. I South (Boys) -- Poly got slighted with its No. 3 seed. If the Jackrabbits win their first round game and Carlsbad manages to beat Fairfax, it will be Poly that will have to travel to Carlsbad for the semifinals. Hard to figure Carlsbad ahead of Poly after the way Poly has played recently and the fact Carlsbad has a 40-point loss to Div. IV Horizon.

Div. I North (Boys) -- Pleasant Valley of Chico will have to win Tuesday at home against Vallejo and then travel the next day for a game in Oakland against Oakland Tech. Best first-round matchup is Oakland vs. Modesto Christian at Modesto Junior College.

Div. II South (Boys) -- Pairings all make sense here. Mater Dei is a heavy favorite to prevail and go on to win its first Div. II state title after winning in Div. I last year.

Div. II North (Boys) -- San Francisco McAteer's Div. II enrollment (it was Div. III last year) created an outbracket game in this division between Oak Ridge and Chico on Tuesday. Oak Ridge should win, but will then have to hit the road for a game against St. Francis of Mountain View the next night.

Div. III South (Boys) -- The lower bracket of this playoff is much tougher than the upper, which is good news for two-time defending state champ Bishop Montgomery, which opens against Kearny (15-14), then plays either St. Augustine (16-14) or Palm Desert (25-5, but hasn't been ranked all year).

Div. III North (Boys) -- Enterprise probably would have preferred to have been seeded lower at No. 4 instead of No. 3 so it wouldn't get Riordan in the first round. Marquise Kately and friends will really be piling on the miles this week as they'll play in either Sacramento or Santa Rosa on Saturday if they win their first game in Redding.

Div. IV South (Boys) -- This is the best eight-team field in the entire state. Balanced matchups in all four first-round games. No likely blowouts anywhere and any of the four top-seeded teams and a few of the section runner-ups look capable of winning the state title.

Div. IV North (Boys) -- Most attractive first-round matchup is Valley Christian of San Jose going up to the Sierra Foothills to face Amador of Sutter Creek. If Warriors win, their next game could be in Marin County to face Marin Catholic. This looks like Monte Vista Christian's title to lose.

Div. V South (Boys) -- Ribet Academy could be a dark horse here with a first-round game at La Jolla Country Day it's capable of winning and a possible second-rounder vs. two-time defending champ Price, a team it knows very well. Rolling Hills Prep being seeded above Immanuel was huge since Immanuel has played so well at home in recent years. If it's RHP vs. Immanuel on Saturday, though, game will be at RHP.

Div. V North (Boys) -- This was one of those weird deals in which University of San Francisco was listed as being seeded ahead of Capitol Christian but got a lower travel priority number. Why give seeds, though, that are meaningless? We're sure University would rather play at home than on the road in a potential matchup vs. Capitol Christian.

Div. I South (Girls) -- Another unfair aspect of the deal in which San Diego and Central Section champs get to host first-round games in return for only having one entrant is that often a very deserving Southern Section champion, in this case Div. I-A winner San Clemente, has to be on the road. No way El Camino of Oceanside (20-9) should get a home game while San Clemente (27-3) has to travel. At least the Tritons don't have to go far as their trip down I-5 to El Camino won't take too long.

Div. I North (Girls)-- We've said enough about St. Ignatius. Pleasant Valley, the top seed, might have a tougher first round game (against possibly Mitty) than its second.

Div. II South (Girls) -- Troy of Fullerton, which has been as high as No. 7 in the overall state top 20, has to travel to Orange Glen of Escondido on Wednesday. If it wins, a trip to Bakersfield might follow.

Div. II North (Girls) -- The pairings here seemed to have fallen into place very easily. It will be a surprise if it's not Pinewood against St. Mary's of Stockton for the regional crown on March 16 at UC Davis.

Div. III South (Girls) -- After what happened last year, too bad Santana of Santee didn't get a better draw. Sultans are at home in first game, but face 6-5 Tye'sha Fluker and Pasadena Muir. Then if they win, it's on to probably play two-time defending state champ Bishop Montgomery on the road.

Div. III North (Girls) -- Miramonte, Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Francis of Sacramento all start off as strong favorites in their home games, although St. Francis better watch out for Alhambra scoring machine Jenni Jones.

Div. IV South (Girls) -- Longest road trip in the state for the first-round Wednesday looks like it's Dos Palos girls to Bishop's of La Jolla. DP girls better get going by 6 a.m. to avoid hitting I-5 traffic going south in Orange County in the late afternoon. Bishop's and St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) are heavy favorites to play in the regional final at Long Beach City College on March 16.

Div. IV North (Girls) -- Despite having to go to Yreka for one game and to Atherton or Patterson for another, Marin Catholic should still be too overpowering to be denied getting into the regional final. A rematch of the NCS final vs. Ursuline is a definite possibility.

Div. V South (Girls) -- All four first-round host teams look like solid favorites and La Jolla Country Day is a solid favorite to repeat as state champions. Winner of likely semifinal between Pilgrim and Mission Prep could offer a test to the Torres, though it's going to take something weird (like Candice Wiggins being in serious foul trouble) for them to be knocked off.

Div. V North (Girls) -- Redwood Christian does have a strong recent history, but we think Ripon Christian's win over Modesto Christian (a team that beat Berkeley) in the Sac-Joaquin final should have given it the top seed. Despite that, Ripon Christian still got a better draw than Redwood Christian as its first-round foe might be weaker and Redwood Christian might have to face Modesto Christian in the semis.

Golden State Preps Top Stories