It’s that time of the year, March Madness is around the corner but until then, we have Los Angeles City Section basketball playoffs to hold us down. As with every selection process, there are teams that feel snubbed, or should have been higher. The court will be a good place to prove as such.
Let’s start out with the City Division II.
King/Drew had a solid season, playing Open Division #4 seed Narbonne tough with a six point-home loss to end the year, while they split with George Washington Prep (Div I #3 Seed). The Golden Eagles also played Serra tough, losing by a bucket to the Southern Section Div II playoff side.
Eagle Rock had a tough season, with their best win being one of two against Lincoln, the 14th seed in Division II. Eight of the Eagles losses’ came by within ten points, three of which were by a single tally and another by three. The experience from those close contests could pay dividends.
Prediction: King/Drew muster up enough offense while shutting down Eagle Rock en route to a 58-52 victory.
Led by Joshua Perez (Jr) and Ryan Ishii (Sr), the Barristers aim to prove that they deserved the second slot over Van Nuys while building a solid resume. Wins over Bonita and a sweep over Hollywood were definitely nice, while they challenged themselves with games against Bonita, Birmingham, El Camino Real, La Canada & Blair.
Adrian Gonzalez and Andrew Cortez lead an Eagle side that is looking to pull an upset after missing the playoffs a year ago. First half play will be key for Bell, as the Barristers average just over 29 points in the first half.
Prediction: Marshall comes out firing on all cylinders, walking out with a 57-38 victory.
Evan Porter has done a spectacular job turning Van Nuys around, and it was apparent throughout the year, as the Wolves tested themselves early on. Playing tough during the Trevor Ariza Tip-Off, with tough losses to St. Bernard, Rancho Dominguez & Venice (redeemed later on) while also going up against Bishop Montgomery. Tyree Winborn remains one of the best unsigned players in the nation (don’t ask me how) and his scoring prowess will be on full display, as the Wolves will look to force turnovers behind Matthew Sykes & Ethan Quiambao.
Lincoln will be coming in with a chip on their shoulders, as no one seems to give them a legit chance to walk out of the Valley with a victory, which would be a mistake. Led by three double digit scorers, all underclassmen, the Tigers beat the teams they were supposed to beat, while sticking close with their losses, as seven came within 10, four of which were within three.
Prediction: Turnovers hurt the Tigers, helping the Wolves get easy buckets to supplement Winborn’s offense, as they head into the second round with a 61-47 margin.
Coming from a tough West Valley League, the Chancellors are hoping to make some noise during the playoffs behind the scoring prowess of Noah McKenzie, who is looking to extend his consecutive 20+ point mark to five games.
High scoring seniors’ Michael Dailey and Katrell Brown want to extend their high school playing careers with an upset victory against the Chancellors, a game in which anything can happen.
Prediction: Animo South starts out with a big lead, before letting it slip away as I like Chatsworth here to escape with a 63-58 win.
Niko Gooden, Narek Melikyan and Brandon Brewer propelled the Sheiks to a 10-game winnning streak as the Sheiks look to prove their worth. Tough early games against Loyola, View Park, George Washington Prep and Damien tested the Sheiks.
Looking to secure 20 wins, the White Tigers played a conservative schedule and nearly ran the table in league play, with a seven point loss against SOCES preventing that.
Prediction: I like Hollywood going away here with too much offense, 65-43.
Winners of 10-of-11, the Romans will be the lone higher seed to play on the road in the opening round, and it won’t be an easy task. Los Angeles will need to continue it’s recent momentum to get on through.
Like the Romans, the Knights have won 9-of-10 and are undefeated at home this season with six victories. A high scoring team, the Knights score over 20 points in the fourth quarter, which will be key Thursday evening.
Prediction: SOCES knocks off the higher seed by a 61-49 margin.
Garfield took advantage of a relatively soft schedule, topping the 20-win mark. With only three seniors on the team, the Bulldogs are in good shape for the future.
Coach John Fischer looks to erase a 13-game losing streak and pull the first round upset for the Cavaliers, hoping the team has learned from tough non-league games against Bishop Montgomery, Hesperia, Harvard-Westlake and Venice. League games against Taft, Birmingham, El Camino Real and Granada Hills isn’t something to scoff at either.
Prediction: Garfield and Cleveland have split regular season games the last two years, and the Bulldogs take the victory with a 68-39 margin.
A double overtime loss must linger on the mind of the Lancers who have been waiting a year for redemption. Coach Tarek Abdelsameian in his debut season has done a solid job and will have leading scorer Erik Panosian for another year, while senior Antonio Tidwell will look to clean up the glass.
Winners of seven of nine, the Riders look to erase a rivarly loss to Garfield to end the season by sending the Lancers home packing.
Prediction: Panosian’s scoring prowess and Tidwell’s ability to finish around the hoop is too much for the Riders as the Lancers walk out with a 55-43 win.