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CCS basketball playoffs are ready to tip off

Pinewod girls, Palo Alto boys lead 14 teams into the postseason playoffs

by Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online Sports

The second season of high school basketball gets under way this week with the Central Coast Section playoffs. For some teams, it will be a reward for the success they enjoyed during the regular season. For others, it will provide a second chance.

Those being rewarded include the Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep boys plus the Pinewood and Eastside Prep girls. All enjoyed highly successful regular seasons with the boys winning league titles and the girls sharing one.

Palo Alto, which captured the SCVAL De Anza Division crown with an 11-1 mark, received the No. 3 seed in Division II and a bye into Saturday's quarterfinals at Foothill College. The Vikings (18-6) could face league opponent Los Altos (16-8) on Saturday, with the winner advancing to face -- most likely -- No. 2 Mitty (17-9).

Sacred Heart Prep also lost only one game during the 14-game West Bay Athletic League season and was rewarded with a No. 2 seed in Division IV. The Gators (19-5) also have a bye into Saturday's quarterfinals at Hartnell College in Salinas and will await the winner of No. 7 Pacific Grove (17-9) and No. 10 Capuchino (12-12).

In the girls' CCS Division V playoffs, Pinewood and Eastside Prep most likely will continue their battles that started in the preseason and continued into the WBAL Foothill Division campaign. Pinewood (20-6) received the No. 1 seed and Eastside Prep (22-4) the No. 2 seed despite the fact that Eastside upended Pinewood, 55-53, in Saturday's WBAL playoff finale.

Both teams, in opposite brackets, have byes into Saturday's quarterfinals at St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic in Watsonville. Pinewood will play either No. 8 Alma Heights (7-10) or No. 9 York (6-4) while Eastside will face No. 7 Pacific Collegiate.

Eastside Prep most likely will face No. 3 Castilleja (18-8) in the semifinals on March 3 while Pinewood probably will face No. 4 St. Francis-CCC (16-8).

Castilleja is not only being rewarded for its standout season, but getting a second chance. The Gators played Eastside Prep in the WBAL playoff semifinals last Friday, dropping a 43-37 decision. Castilleja also lost to Eastside Prep twice during the league season and will have an opportunity to reverse those losses. The Gators will open against No. 6 Crystal Springs (10-11) of the WBAL Skyline Division and should advance without trouble.

The remainder of the girls' brackets is all about redemption and second chances.

Menlo-Atherton (11-15) received the No. 10 seed in Division I and will open at home on Tuesday against No. 15 Homestead (12-11) at 7 p.m. The Bears are coming off a disappointing loss in the PAL Tournament semifinals last Friday and only twice this season have won back-to-back games while being plagued by inconsistent play. The CCS playoffs will provide an opportunity, perhaps, to change that.

Should the Bears advance to the second round on Thursday (7 p.m.), they'll face No. 7 Gunn (9-13), another up-and-down team. The Titans' inconsistencies, however, can be traced to their youth -- the team has only one senior starter and is filled with underclassmen. Like M-A, Gunn has won back-to-back games only twice this season after compiling the finest record (29-2) in school history just a season ago.

Gunn already has faced No. 3 Evergreen Valley and No. 4 Santa Teresa this season, losing to the latter by just two points. Thus, the bracket seemingly is wide open for Gunn if the Titans can play their best.

Thursday's winner will advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday at Mission College in Santa Clara against No. 2 Gilroy (18-6).

In Division II, the Palo Alto girls (12-10) received the No., 10 seed and will host No. 15 Leland (12-11) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Vikings are scrappy and defensive-minded, but have had a problem putting up a lot of points. Should they survive the opening round as expected, they'll visit No. 7 Mills (13-12) on Thursday at 7 p.m. Awaiting in the quarterfinals on Saturday will be No. 2 Presentation (16-10) at Oak Grove High.

The girls' CCS Division IV bracket is all about redemption for Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo. The Gators (8-17) received the No. 5 seed despite struggling through a 0-10 season in the WBAL Foothill Division. SHP did go 8-7 in the preseason and now has an opportunity to show it's better than its record. The Gators will host a second-round game on Thursday (7 p.m.) against either No. 12 Oceana (14-6) or No. 12 King's Academy (14-10).

Thursday's winner will face No. 4 Menlo (13-12) at Santa Cruz High. The Knights went 9-4 in nonleague play but went 3-7 in the WBAL Foothill Division after starting out 2-0. Menlo is very young with no senior starters. The Knights topped the Gators twice during the league season. Saturday's winner likely will face No. 1 Santa Cruz (21-5) in the semifinals.

Second chances is also the theme in the boys' bracket, where No. 10 seed Menlo-Atherton (14-12) gets a chance to keep its season going by hosting No. 15 Alvarez (12-12) on Tuesday in a first-round Division I game on the Bears' floor at 7 p.m. M-A has been very good at times and not so good on other nights. The Bears were bounced from the PAL Tournament semifinals last Friday and need to turn things around quickly.

Waiting in the wings for Bears will be No. 7 Homestead (16-9) on Thursday and No. 2 Bellarmine (21-5) in Saturday's quarterfinals.

The Gunn boys (12-12) had to win their final two SCVAL De Anza Division games to reach the .500 plateau for the season. The Titans will open at home on Tuesday (7 p.m.) against No. 15 Woodside (14-12). The winner will advance to the second round on Thursday at No. 7 Sobrato (18-6). A possible quarterfinal matchup will be No. 2 Mitty (17-9) on Saturday.

In Division IV, two-time defending section champ Menlo (9-15) is seeded No. 9 after a 7-7 season in the WBAL. The Knights will visit No. 8 Carmel (17-9) on Thursday in a second-round game at 7 p.m. The last time the schools met in any sport was the CCS Small School Division football championship game, won by Carmel.

Should Menlo survive, it will have to face No. 1 Palma (21-3) on Saturday at Hartnell College.

In Division V, Pinewood (17-6) has been seeded No. 2 and is finally free of WBAL opponents after finishing third in league play behind Sacred Heart Prep and Harker. The other big positive for the Panthers is the fact they could play twice at home. They have a bye into Saturday's quarterfinals against either No. 7 St. Lawrence (12-13) or No. 10 Kirby (6-7), with a victory earning them another home game in the semifinals against (most likely) No. 3 Marina (15-10).

Pinewood may have the best path to the CCS championship game, set for March 5 (a Friday) at noon at Santa Clara University. A likely opponent in the finals will be No. 1 St. Francis-CCC (24-1). The section finalists, however, both will advance to the CIF NorCal playoffs starting March 9.

BOYS' CENTRAL COAST SECTION PLAYOFFS

(All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted)

Division I

First round

Tuesday, Feb. 23

No. 15 Alvarez (12-12) at No. 10 Menlo-Atherton (14-12)

No. 14 Independence (14-10) at No. 11 Salinas (15-8)

No. 13 Monta Vista (13-11) at No. 12 San Benito (13-11)

No. 16 Evergreen Valley (17-7) at No. 9 Oak Grove (14-10)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

Independence-Salinas winner at No. 6 Piedmont Hills (16-8)

Alvarez/Menlo-Atherton winner at No. 7 Homestead (16-9)

Monta Vista-San Benito winner at No. 5 Carlmont (21-5)

Evergreen Valley-Oak Grove winner at No. 8 Alisal (15-9)

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Independence High

Division II

First round

Tuesday Feb. 23

No. 15 Woodside (14-12) at No. 10 Gunn (12-12)

No. 14 Lynbrook (15-9) at No. 11 Leigh (8-16)

No. 13 Lincoln (19-5) at No. 12 Fremont (11-13)

No. 16 Aragon (13-13) at No. 9 Cupertino (13-11)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

Woodside-Gunn winner at No. 7 Sobrato (18-6)

Lynbrook-Leigh winner at No. 6 Los Altos (16-8)

Lincoln-Fremont winner at No. 5 Westmont (15-9)

Aragon-Cupertino winner at No. 8 Leland (10-14)

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Foothill College

Division IV

First round

Tuesday, Feb. 23

No. 13 Oceana (10-11) at No. 12 Monte Vista Christian (10-15)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

No. 9 Menlo School (9-15) at No. 8 Carmel (17-9)

No. 11 R.L. Stevenson (12-12) at No. 6 Harker (20-4)

No. 10 Capuchino (12-12) at No. 7 Pacific Grove (17-9)

Oceana-MV Christian winner at No. 5 Half Moon Bay (17-10)

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Hartnell College, Salinas

Division V

First round

Thursday, Feb. 25

No. 11 Kehillah (9-12) at No. 6 Pacific Collegiate (14-3), 5 p.m.

No. 10 Kirby (6-7) at No. 7 St. Lawrence (12-13)

No. 9 York (5-5) vs. No. 8 San Francisco Christian (11-11) at Alma Heights

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Pinewood School

GIRLS' CENTRAL COAST SECTION PLAYOFFS

(All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted)

Division I

First round

Tuesday, Feb. 23

No. 15 Homestead (12-11) at No. 10 Menlo-Atherton (11-15), 5:30 p.m.

No. 14 Andrew Hill (11-13) at No. 11 Oak Grove (12-12), 5:30 p.m.

No. 13 Salinas (10-14) at No. 12 Silver Creek (12-12)

No. 16 Milpitas (10-14) at No. 9 Monta Vista (12-12)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

Homestead/Menlo-Atherton winner at No. 7 Gunn (9-13)

Andrew Hill-Oak Grove winner at No. 6 Wilcox (11-9)

Salinas-Silver Creek winner at No. 5 San Benito (20-4)

Milpitas-Monta Vista winner at No. 8 Mt. Pleasant (19-5)

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Mission College, Santa Clara

Division II

First round

Tuesday, Feb. 23

No. 15 leland (12-11) at No. 10 Palo Alto (12-10)

No. 14 Leigh (11-11) at No. 11 Westmoor (16-9)

No. 13 South SF (13-10) at No. 12 Pioneer (11-12), 5:30 p.m.

No. 16 Los Altos (14-10) at No. 9 Aragon (18-7)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

Leland-Palo Alto winner at No. 7 Mills (13-12)

Leigh-Westmoor winner at No. 6 Westmont (17-7), 5:30 p.m.

South SF-Pioneer winnat at No. 5 Lynbrook (16-7)

Los Altos-Aragon winner at No. 8 Los Gatos (21-2)

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Oak Grove High

Division IV

First round

Tuesday, Feb. 23

No. 14 Monte Vista Christian (8-13) at No. 11 King City (15-10)

No. 15 Soledad (13-11) at No. 10 San Lorenzo Valley (11-14)

No. 13 King's Academy (14-10) at No. 12 Oceana (14-6)

Second round

Thursday, Feb. 25

King's Academy-Oceana winner at No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep (8-17)

MV Christian-King City winner at No. 6 Half Moon Bay (15-12), 5:30 p.m.

Soledad-San Lorenzo Valley winner at No. 7 Santa Catalina (18-6)

No. 9 San Jose (13-11) at No. 8 Carmel (18-7), 5:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Santa Cruz High

Division V

First round

Thursday, Feb. 25

No. 9 York (6-4) at No. 8 Alma Heights (7-10), 5:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals

Saturday, Feb. 27 (times TBA)

(All games at St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic, Watsonville)

No. 6 Crystal Springs (10-11) vs. No. 3 Castilleja (18-8)

No. 7 Pacific Collegiate (12-6) vs. No. 2 Eastside Prep (22-4)

No. 5 Immaculate Conception (16-5) vs. No. 4 St. Francis-CCC (16-8)

York-Alma Heights winner vs. No. 1 Pinewood (20-6)

Semifinals on Wednesday, March 3 at St. Francis-CCC

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