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CIF Semifinals Previews

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at site of higher seed unless otherwise noted

Division I

(1) El Camino (23-7) vs. (5) Vista (24-7)

The top half of the Division I bracket features a pair of North County teams in a rivalry that has been one-sided. These two teams met on Jan. 3 and El Camino continued its dominance, hitting 11 three-pointers en route to a 77-58 win at Vista.

The fifth-seeded Panthers have the athleticism to run with the top-seeded Wildcats, but will need to defend better than they did in the first meeting to have a chance.

UC Riverside-bound Dayton Boddie (El Camino) and Sedrick Childress (Vista) lead their teams in scoring, but the key to this game will be the point guard matchup between Wildcats’ junior Imani Sobers and Panthers’ senior John Fletcher. Whichever guard controls the tempo and sets the tone early will be a big factor in sending their team to the finals.

(2) Torrey Pines (20-10) vs. (3) San Ysidro (25-5)

An intriguing North-South matchup will decide who goes to the Jenny Craig Pavilion from the bottom half of the Division I bracket. Second-seeded Torrey Pines won its last six regular season games and has stayed hot in the postseason. Led by the senior guard tandem of Boston College-bound Joe Rahon and Garrett Galvin, the Falcons have blown out their first two opponents by an average of 28 points.

Third-seeded San Ysidro is enjoying one of its best seasons in school history led by senior guard Javion Watson, who is headed to Long Beach State. The Cougars lead the section in three-pointers (253) and like to push the ball, averaging 76.4 points per game as a result.

Strength of schedule gave Torrey Pines homecourt advantage for this semifinal matchup, and San Ysidro will be out to prove it can play with a perennial contender. If the Cougars can handle Torrey Pines’ pressure, this should be a close game.

Division II

(1) La Costa Canyon (29-2) vs. (5) Morse (26-6)

Top-seeded La Costa Canyon began the season highly regarded and has lived up to expectations, holding the top spot in the section since the opening weeks of the season. Led by the Division I-bound senior duo of point guard David Travers (Georgia State) and forward Matt Shrigley (San Diego State) the Mavericks have rolled through their first two playoff opponents – but face a tough test against fifth-seeded Morse.

The guard tandem of senior Marley Simmons and junior Alfonso Wilson pace the Tigers, who have been flying under the radar for most of the season but defend well and play at a pace that might give the Mavericks trouble. If La Costa Canyon hits its shots early they could coast to victory, but if the Mavericks start slow Morse is game for an upset.

(2) Lincoln (20-8) vs. (3) Hoover (28-4)

Lincoln and Hoover have met in the Division II finals each of the past two seasons, and the third straight playoff meeting between the city rivals comes a round earlier – and creates a highly anticipated semifinal. The second-seeded Hornets are led by junior guards Tyree and Tyrell Robinson, and the late-season addition of senior point guard Jerry Cobb turned the two-time defending Division II champs into a legitimate contender.

Senior guard Chris Jones is the leading scorer for the third-seeded Cardinals, who rely on relentless fullcourt pressure to break opponents. Strength of schedule gave Lincoln the higher seed over Hoover, and as a result the Hornets reap the benefits by getting to host this high-profile semifinal at The Hive.

The key to this matchup is how Lincoln handles Hoover’s pressure – if the Hornets protect the ball they will be headed to the Jenny Craig Pavilion, but if the Cardinals make things uncomfortable it could be a long night for the hosts. The atmosphere should be electric and full of emotion with a trip to the section finals and state playoff berth on the line – and that’s why the Fast Break picked this matchup.

Division III

(1) Cathedral Catholic (26-3) vs. (4) St. Augustine (23-6)

Though top-seeded Cathedral Catholic won both its Western League meetings against rival St. Augustine, the Dons couldn’t be thrilled to see the Saints on their side of the bracket. After two rounds of the playoffs, the seeding held true to set up a high-stakes hardwood Holy Bowl in the semifinals.

Cathedral Catholic is balanced offensively and has held opponents to less than 50 points per game with its defense that combines trapping and a stingy halfcourt zone. Could a third crack at the Dons prove successful for St. Augustine?

Led by junior guard Brynton Lemar, the Saints have the talent to knock off their religious rivals and have nothing to lose headed into the semis. That this one will be played in a likely packed Claver Center at Cathedral Catholic High only adds to the emotion and drama.

(2) Mount Miguel (24-6) vs. (3) Mission Bay (17-7)

Second-seeded Mount Miguel broke up the Western League stronghold in Division III by beating its semifinal opponent Mission Bay in a nonleague contest on Jan. 7. As a result, the Matadors will host the postseason rematch with the third-seeded Buccaneers.

Guards Izzy Wagner and Marcus Booker set the tone for Mount Miguel, who stumbled midway through the season but has won five of its last six games. Mission Bay finished near the top of the competitive Western League, and showed during the season that it can play with anyone.

The Buccaneers are a solid shooting team headlined by senior guards Jerald Albritton and Vince Petties-Wilson. The first matchup between these two teams was decided by six points, and this one will be just as close.

Division IV

(1) Francis Parker (16-11) vs. (4) Santa Fe Christian (17-10)

The late rounds of the Division IV playoffs typically double as the third round of Coastal League play, and this season is no exception. Top-seeded Francis Parker won eight of its last nine regular season games and finished as co-champion of the competitive small school league.

UC Santa Barbara-bound senior guard Dalante Dunklin paces the Lancers, who are seeking a fourth straight appearance in the section finals. Fourth-seeded Santa Fe Christian needed overtime to beat Horizon in the quarterfinals, and the Eagles are lead by the junior duo of forward Grant Corsi (18.3 ppg) and guard Justin Byrd (16.7 ppg).

Francis Parker won each of the regular season meetings – will the Lancers earn a clean sweep, or will the third time be the charm for Santa Fe Christian?

(2) Army-Navy (22-6) vs. (3) La Jolla Country Day (18-9)

Army-Navy and La Jolla Country Day traded wins on each other’s home court during the regular season, and the rubber match between the league foes will be one of the most competitive contests of the semifinal round.

On the court, the second-seeded Warriors and third-seeded Torreys matchup as evenly as any teams in the section. Both teams boast two the biggest front lines in San Diego – Army-Navy has 7-foot-1 center Cheikh N’diaye, 6-foot-8 forward Jhoan Camacho, and 6-foot-6 forward Akhadj Diatta while La Jolla Country Day boasts 6-foot-8 center Jordan Poland, 6-foot-7 forward Ziad Damanhoury, and 6-foot-5 forward Frank Bamford.

The league rivals also each have a talented playmaking guard – sophomore Devin Watson for the Warriors and junior Sage Burmeister for the Torreys. Those similarities make this matchup a competitive one between two solid contenders that could go either way.

Division V

(1) Foothills Christian (17-11) vs. (5) San Diego Jewish Academy (14-10) 5 p.m. at Mount Miguel High

(2) The Rock (17-9) vs. (3) Vincent Memorial (22-5)

Finals Friday/Saturday, March 2-3 at University of San Diego


Pictured: Senior guard Chris Jones and third-seeded Hoover face second-seeded Lincoln in the Division II semifinals on Tuesday night

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