Brandon Hernández 5 p.m., March 30
(1) La Costa Canyon (27-2) vs. (16) University City (10-16)
(8) Kearny (19-7) vs. (9) Canyon Crest (15-12)
(5) Morse (24-6) vs. (12) West Hills (14-12)
(4) Westview (22-5) vs. (13) Point Loma (14-10)
(3) Hoover (26-4) vs. (14) Steele Canyon (11-14)
(6) Monte Vista (21-6) vs. (11) Serra (12-13)
(7) Mt. Carmel (13-13) vs. (10) San Marcos (19-10)
(2) Lincoln (18-8) vs. (15) El Centro Southwest (12-15)
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 Friday, March 2, 8:05 p.m. at University of San Diego
Favorite (1) La Costa Canyon
The deepest division in the section includes the best team in San Diego – top-ranked La Costa Canyon. Led by Division I-bound seniors David Travers (Georgia State) and Matt Shrigley (San Diego State), the state-ranked Mavericks have won 11 games in a row entering the playoffs and ran the table in the Avocado West League. LCC is the deepest and one of the most talented teams in the section, but will be tested as soon as the quarterfinals in a top-heavy bracket.
Sleeper (6) Monte Vista
Five teams in the Division II field finished the season in the top 10 – and that doesn’t include Monte Vista, who has won 11 games in a row and finished undefeated in the Grossmont Valley League. That the Monarchs are seeded sixth reflects the quality of this year’s Division II bracket. Led by 6-foot-8 senior forward James Jackson (17.6 points per game), Monte Vista has the size, athleticism and experience to compete with any of teams seeded above them.
Best of the First Round (5) Morse vs. (12) West Hills
Morse’s uptempo approach could lead to a deep postseason run, but at the start the Eastern League co-champs must survive a West Hills team that has won four of its last six games and played a lot of close games this season. This game will be closer than expected, and if the Tigers overlook the Wolfpack it could result in an early exit.
Star Watch Sam Okhotin, Westview, Sr.
Westview has been under the radar for most of the season despite enjoying its best campaign in school history, including a first-ever Palomar League title. The same could be said of Okhotin, the standout on a balanced and experienced Wolverines’ team. The 6-foot-5 forward headed to Point Loma Nazarene can score both inside and outside, and is as fundamentally sound in the low post as any player in the section.
Looking Ahead Semifinals – (2) Lincoln vs. (3) Hoover
Lincoln and Hoover have met in each of the last two Division II title games (both Lincoln wins) and if the seeding holds, they would meet a round earlier with a berth in the finals on the line. These two teams have set the recent standard in Division II by combining to win the last four section titles, and a semifinal at The Hive would have all of the energy and emotion of a title game.
Strength of schedule lifts Lincoln over Hoover for second seed
Division II is the toughest of the five brackets from top to bottom, and also featured one of the most difficult decisions of Selection Saturday. In the lower half of the bracket, it was a close call between Lincoln and Hoover for the second-seed behind La Costa Canyon.
Both teams had strong cases. Two-time defending section champion Lincoln (18-8) won the Western League after laboring through a national schedule, and Hoover (26-4) finished as co-champs of the Eastern League and had eight more wins while facing some of the best competition in the section and state.
Strength of schedule was the determining factor, as Lincoln was awarded the No. 2 seed and home court advantage into the finals. Hornets head coach Jason Bryant felt the No. 2 seed was deserved despite the team’s early struggles.
“Our strength of schedule is the toughest in the county, we beat a nationally ranked team in January, and we won the toughest league in the county,” Bryant said. “I definitely think the two-seed is well-deserved.”
Hoover head coach Ollie Goulston had a slightly different opinion. Though just one place different in the bracket, the decision means that a potential semifinal matchup between the Cardinals and Hornets would be played at Lincoln High.
“I thought we did enough to earn the No. 2 seed. We beat San Joaquin Memorial, who is top 10 in the state in Division II and we played a good nonleague schedule,” Goulston said. “Lincoln has a good team and we have to go play them and try to beat them up there.”
In a deep Division II field, a Lincoln-Hoover semifinal is hardly a formality. The Hornets and Cardinals have met in each of the last two Division II championship games, and both coaches agree that a return trip to the Jenny Craig Pavilion will be a challenge.
”There’s teams from top to bottom that can make a statement starting next week,” Bryant said. “It’s going to be a tough go for everybody.”
“It’s a monster – that makes it fun,” Goulston said.
Pictured: La Costa Canyon forward Matt Shrigley and the Mavericks enter the playoffs as the top seed in Division II