BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ridgeview High's girls basketball team got exactly what it wanted when the CIF unveiled state playoff brackets Sunday afternoon.
Instead of being bumped up to the ultra-competitive -- and brand-new for this year -- Open Division, the Wolf Pack was given the top seed in the Division II Southern California bracket.
"I'm happy, because I wanted to play teams that are like us," Ridgeview coach Michael Martin said. "Those teams in the Open Division should be the ones you see winning state championships every year (in the past). I mean, we would have played and competed against whoever they told us to play, but I wasn't really looking forward to (the Open Division)."
An added bonus about staying in Division II: The No. 1 seed means Ridgeview could play as many as three state playoff games at home, starting at 7 on Wednesday night against Redondo Beach-Redondo Union.
"We're humbled to be the 1 seed," Martin said, "but at the same time, we can't take anybody lightly. It's just a number. We put in a lot of hard work, went down south, played some tough games, and that put us on this road."
If Ridgeview (26-3), led by Stanford signee Erica McCall, wins all three of those home games, it would play in the Division II Southern California final March 16 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The winner of that game plays for the state championship March 23 in Sacramento.
"It's going to be tough," Martin said. "But the idea has been to make a run at state. We have all the pieces we need. We have good guards, and of course Erica. I'm sure she'd love to go out with a state championship. But we have elite players."
Many expected Ridgeview to the be the Central Section team picked for the Open Division. Instead, the surprise choice was Stockdale (24-5), which beat Ridgeview in December but lost the Division I Central Section championship game to Clovis West. The Golden Eagles stayed in the Division I state playoffs.
Stockdale, the final of six seeds in the Open Division SoCal bracket, will play at No. 3 Santa Ana-Mater Dei in the first round Friday. Many considered Mater Dei to be the best team in the nation until the Monarchs lost 73-72 to Etiwanda in the Southern Section Division I-AA semifinals.
Garces and Tehachapi also received state playoff bids and have road games Wednesday. Garces is the No. 15 seed in Division II and plays at No. 2 Lynwood, and Tehachapi is No. 12 in D-III and plays at No. 5 Reseda.
State boys basketball playoffs
Like Ridgeview's girls, the Independence boys (32-1) avoided the Open Division and are the No. 3 seed in Division III. The Falcons, who used an 11-0 game-ending run to beat Tulare-Mission Oak 62-60 for the D-III section title, play host to No. 14 Compton (20-9) in Wednesday's first round.
If it wins, Independence will also host a second-round game Saturday against either No. 6 Simi Valley-Royal or No. 11 Sun Valley-Polytechnic.
Fresno-Bullard, the Division I Central Section champion, was picked for the Open Division and is the No. 4 seed.
Garces, which lost a double-overtime game to Hanford West for the D-II section title, was seeded 15th in Division II and plays at No. 2 Redondo Union in Wednesday's first round. No other Kern County boys team received a state playoff berth.
Regional soccer playoffs
Three local soccer teams also will host first-round playoff games this week in the CIF Southern California Regional Championships.
Golden Valley's boys, the Central Section Division II champion, was given the No. 2 seed in the SoCal Division I playoffs (unlike the section divisions, the regional divisions are determined purely by enrollment). The Bulldogs (24-3-1) will play host to No. 7 Ontario (21-7-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Highland's girls, who won their third straight Division III section championship, will play Lompoc-Cabrillo (20-7-4) at 4 p.m. today. The Scots (20-6-2) are the No. 4 seed.
Garces' girls finished second in the Southeast Yosemite League to Highland but went on to win the Division II section title. The Rams (14-8-1) are the No. 5 seed in the Division III regional playoffs, but will receive a home game as a section champion. They play No. 4 Westlake Village-Oaks Christian (21-3-1) at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Regional soccer championships will be played Friday and Saturday at Warren High in Downey.