Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs
Westchester at Corona Centennial, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Five keys to the game:
1. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey will likely be a game-time decision after twisting his right ankle during the third quarter Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley. Caffey, who has signed with Long Beach State, said after the game that he "should be back" against the Comets. Caffey is averaging 17.5 points and 6.2 assists for the second-seeded Huskies and has emerged as the team’s best playmaker.
2. If any team can weather the storm without one of its key players, it’s Centennial. The Huskies’ backcourt also includes New Mexico-bound slasher Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound sharpshooter Gelaun Wheelwright. The duo combined for 59 points in the victory against REV. Caffey missed two Big VIII League games earlier this season with a sprained left ankle and the Huskies didn’t skip a beat. Westchester isn’t Norco, however.
3. Due to their respective locations, you wouldn’t expect these teams to have a history against each other, but they played Dec. 30 in the fifth-place game of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Huskies raced to a 24-7 lead in that game and kept the Comets in the rearview mirror the rest of the way in 59-51 victory. Dunning scored 17 points in the game and Joshua Wilson had 17 to lead Westchester.
4. This isn’t the Comets of old. Sure, they reached the City Section championship game but they don’t have the start power of recent seasons, such as when Trevor Ariza streaked down the lane, Amir Johnson patrolled the middle or Dwayne Polee, Jr. soared above the rim. This season, Westchester relies on an unsung cast that includes 6-6 forward Robert Gsellman, who is better known among baseball recruiters for his .649 batting average last season.
5. Much of what makes Westchester so beatable this season is its inexperience. The Comets graduated 11 players from last season’s Division 1 state championship team. Woodland Hills Taft had every reason to kick the Comets when they were down. The Toreadors lost to Westchester in the City Section final the last two years and three of the last five, but they could only manage a four-point victory in last week’s City Section final.