Orange County and the Trinity League will be well represented in the CIF Southern California Regional basketball playoffs for both boys and girls in the state’s marquee Division I.
Especially in the girls’ tournament.
Orange County has four of the five top-seeded teams, including No. 1 Mater Dei and No. 2 Brea Olinda. Those two schools, both having won 29 of 30 games, faced each other Saturday in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship while ranked 1-2 in the nation. Mater Dei, ranked No. 2, scored a 63-54 victory over the previously undefeated Ladycats with a strong performance off the bench by Jessica Duarte and Kiki Alofaituli and the use of a zone defense for the first time this season.
They take the floor Tuesday in the first round with Mater Dei slotted into the bracket’s top spot, Brea into the second. Should they meet again, it will be in the Southern Regional Championships at USC’s Galen Center on March 26. To reach that point, they will have to win games Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of this week.
After third-seeded Canyon Springs (27-3) are Edison (29-3) and Troy (28-4), whose Division 1A girls' final ended in a controversial 45-44 victory for Edison when Bonnie Samuelson stole a pass and hit a 10-foot shot with 3.4 seconds remaining.
The controversy came with an apparent scoring error earlier in the game when Edison received credit for an additional free throw. The two schools could meet in the second round on Thursday at Edison provided they win their first round games. Edison plays host to City Section runner-up Narbonne (29-4) and Troy plays host to San Diego (26-6).
Mater Dei will play Fairfax (25-9) at 6 p.m., before the Monarchs boys' team, seeded fourth, faces Aliso Niguel (26-3) at 7:30. The winner of that game could face Loyola (25-5) in the second round. Also in Division I boys, Capistrano Valley (24-7) plays at Westchester (26-7). In Division II boys, third-seeded Mission Viejo (30-2) plays host to Foothill (22-8).
Brea, which opens at home against Clovis East (21-9), is on the same side of the bracket as Canyon Springs and could face each other in the semifinals on Saturday; they faced each other in the section semifinal and Brea won, 55-36, though the score will probably be closer in a high school gym rather than an arena. Certainly, Canyon Springs expects to play better.
Woodbridge (25-4), seeded 11th, travels to Hanford (21-7) in the first round.
Anaheim Canyon (23-8) is the only local team in Division II girls. The Comanches, who won the 2A title, 66-45 over Harvard-Westlake, are seeded third and play host to South East (23-12) from the L.A. City Section. Canyon is on the same side of the bracket as second-seeded Buena, which was beaten at the buzzer by top-seeded Rialto in the 2AA final.
In Division III girls, Orange Lutheran (23-7) was seeded second to Gardena Serra (27-5); both received first-round byes. Lutheran will play Thursday against the winner of Bishop Amat (24-7) and San Diego Mt. Miguel (23-7). Sonora (18-9) will play at Los Angeles Monroe (23-8).
Lutheran (23-6) is the third-seeded team in Division III boys and faces Mission Bay (15-11) on Tuesday with the chance of playing Loyola on Thursday.
Like Mater Dei and Lutheran, a third team from the Trinity League will play for a state title, in Division IV.
In boys, JSerra (15-14) plays at fourth-seeded La Jolla The Bishop’s School (15-14). In girls, JSerra (12-18) plays at Tollhouse Sierra (20-7), the Central Section Division IV champion. Located on the edge of Sierra National Forest in Kings Canyon National Park, the one-way trip is almost 302 miles.