Early Round Basketball Playoff Updates

The most shocking upset of the early rounds of the various sectional basketball playoffs held throughout the state was Banning's 81-75 triumph over Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the CIF Southern Section Div. III-A quarterfinals.

One of Banning's best players is a freshman, but the Broncos were playing at home and put together one of those dreamy nights in knocking off Bishop Montgomery. The Knights had been No. 1 in the state Div. III rankings for almost the entire season and were looking to win their third state title in four years. They hadn't lost since a defeat to nationally-ranked Fairfax of Los Angeles in early December.

Muadeeb Abdul-Aziz, the freshman, had 17 points for Banning and senior Brandon McDade pumped in 19. Stanford-bound Fred Washington capped his prep career for Bishop Montgomery with 24 points to lead all scorers.

In Northern California, the biggest upset in an early round game may been Deer Valley of Antioch nipping the De La Salle of Concord boys, 38-37, in a first-round game on Wednesday in the CIF North Coast Section. De La Salle has won the last four NCS Div. I titles and hadn't lost an NCS playoff game since 1998.

Antonio Britton made a go-ahead basket for the Wolverines with 29 seconds left. De La Salle then had a chance for a game-winning basket in the final seconds, but Kyle Roemer's shot clanged off the rim as the final horn sounded.

Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland, the top seeded team in the NCS Div. I playoffs, also was nearly upset in its first playoff game, but the Dragons held on for a 51-50 win over San Leandro.

It might not have been an upset, because West Catholic Athletic League teams have done this before, but previously unbeaten Piedmont Hills of San Jose also lost early this week.

The Pirates, the state's last unbeaten boys team, fell to Bellarmine of San Jose, 53-46, in the Central Coast Section Div. I semifinals. The Bells, a team with 11 losses, moved on for a title game matchup vs. Salinas. Bellarmine's win was reminiscint of one a few years ago by Riordan of San Francisco over a Santa Cruz team that was undefeated heading into the playoffs.

In girls playoff games so far, there have been no upsets on a par with the Bishop Montgomery boys.

Two top 10 teams, Mark Keppel of Alhambra and Brea-Olinda of Brea, were knocked out of the Southern Section Div. II playoffs.

But Keppel, which fell to Centennial of Corona, 65-62, as Jenna Sybesma blazed away for 24 points, has never been this good before so how well the Aztecs would do in the playoffs was unknown.

As for Brea, which lost to Mater Dei of Santa, 51-43, it lost to a team that won its own tournament early in the season. The Monarchs had slipped a little lately, but seemed to be returning to that early-season form as this week began. Perhaps the best girls playoff game this week was in tiny Div. V of the Sac-Joaquin Section where two of the state's very best in that division, Modesto Christian of Forest Lake Christian of Auburn, met in the semifinals.

Modesto Christian squeeked out a 66-64 win and gained a spot in the final opposite Ripon Christian. Entering the game, MC was No. 3 in the state and FLC was No. 5.

The only reason two such highly-ranked statewide teams had to play in their section semis was that Ripon Christian is No. 2, so it was guaranteed that two of those three would have to play each other.

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