Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
(1) El Camino (21-7) vs. (16) Otay Ranch (16-10)
(9) Helix (16-9) vs. (8) Mission Hills (18-10)
(5) Vista (22-7) vs. (12) Sweetwater (17-11)
(4) Poway (19-10) vs. (13) Escondido (10-17)
(3) San Ysidro (23-5) vs. (14) Rancho Bernardo (12-16)
(6) Eastlake (18-9) vs. (11) Rancho Buena Vista (11-17)
(7) Fallbrook (18-9) vs. (10) Scripps Ranch (13-13)
(2) Torrey Pines (18-10) vs. (15) Grossmont (14-12)
First Round Tuesday, Feb 21, 7 p.m. at home sites
Quarterfinals Friday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. at home sites
Semifinals Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at home sites
Finals Saturday, March 3, 8:05 p.m. at University of San Diego
Favorite (1) El Camino
Division I has been wide open from the start of the season, and El Camino has emerged as the frontrunner after a solid second half. The Wildcats won 12 of their last 15 games to close out the regular season, only losing to La Costa Canyon (twice in OT) and Hoover. Senior forward Dayton Boddie and junior point guard Imani Sobers pace an El Camino team full of shooters and athleticism. And Ray Johnson is a pretty good coach, too.
Sleeper (5) Vista
Vista won its first seven games of the season on its way to a 15-3 start, but cooled off after a midseason injury to senior point guard John Fletcher. The Panthers went 3-4 without Flecther – including a 1-3 start in the Avocado East League – but rallied to take the league title after their playmaker returned. Vista has as much talent as any team in Division I and, now healthy, appears poised to make some noise in the playoffs.
Best of the First Round (5) Vista vs. (12) Sweetwater
Not many teams in the section pressure and push the ball like Vista and Sweetwater, which will make the North-South first round matchup a fast and entertaining affair. This game will be back and forth and features a pair of talented guards – Vista’s John Fletcher and Sweetwater’s Spencer Mattox.
Star Watch Joe Rahon, Sr., Torrey Pines
Rahon came into the season highly touted, but the 6-foot-2 guard struggled to get going early in the season while being hampered by turf toe. Fully healthy, the Boston College-bound senior has lived up to the hype by averaging more than 25 points per game to close out the regular season. Rahon has an array of shots in his offensive arsenal, and isn’t afraid to take the ball inside when Torrey Pines needs a basket.
Looking Ahead Semifinals – (2) Torrey Pines vs. (3) San Ysidro
If the top seeds prevail in bottom half of the bracket, a North County-South Bay tilt will decide who goes to Jenny Craig Pavilion. This intriguing matchup features two of the sections top guards – Rahon and Long Beach State-bound Javion Watson of San Ysidro. The knock on the 23-win Cougars is that they haven’t played a tough schedule – a high-stakes game with perennial power Torrey Pines would be a solid measuring stick.
Pictured: El Camino forward Dayton Boddie and the Wildcats are the top seed in the Division I playoffs