The few, the proud….
Five teams from the San Diego Section still are in the hunt as the Southern California regional playoffs reach the semifinals round tomorrow.
+Foothills Christian (25-4) will try to stop the No. 1 team in the country when it challenges Chino Hills (31-0) at Colony High in Ontario, a “neutral” site 11 miles and 20 minutes from the Huskies’ campus.
Chino Hills defeated the Knights, 106-86, in December and 85-83 in January on other neutral layouts.
The Huskies ran the Knights off the floor in the first game, taking a 22-5 lead in the first three minutes and roaring to a 40-13, first-quarter lead.
That Foothills outscored its opponent, 73-66, over the last three quarters was virtually unnoticed because the Knights never got closer than 18 points, at 87-69, early in the fourth quarter.
THIRD TIME CHARM?
Foothills has a shot, if only because of the ancient shibboleth that declares it is very difficult for one team to beat another three times in a row in the same season.
Knights coach Brad Leaf adjusted after the first game and the Knights actually led late in the game. Can Leaf, his superstar, 6-foot, 10-inch son, T.J., and the El Cajon team pull off the upset?
Guess: Chino Hills 88, Foothills Christian 78.
+Seven seed Cathedral’s 83-80, Open Division, overtime victory at No. 2 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon was the stunner of the regional tournament and elevated the Dons (21-6) into another tough road battle against No. 3 Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-2) at nearby El Camino College.
The Knights 72-58, overtime conqueror of Los Angeles Westchester, in the quarterfinals, lost to Chino Hills, 71-67, on Jan. 30, and to Sierra Canyon, 78-69, in the Southern Section playoffs.
Inspired Cathedral must keep 6-11 Brandon McCoy out of foul trouble. He sat for 12 minutes in the first half at Sierra Canyon but still finished with 23 points.
Guess: Bishop Montgomery 64, Cathedral 61.
+No. 12 St. Augustine (24-7) is the lowest surviving seed in Division I and visits No. 1 Encino Crespi Carmelite (30-4).
The teams have played against one common opponent.
Crespi beat Bellflower St. John Bosco, 59-25, on Dec. 21, and St. Augustine topped ‘Bosco, 62-52, on Jan. 5.
St. Augustine last gained the regional finals in 2013 when Trey Kell, Brynton Lamar and company came from 11 points behind in the fourth quarter to top West Hills Chaminade, 61-57.
An important contributor to the Saints’ victory in that game at Colony High was freshman Eric Monroe, inserted into the lineup by coach Mike Haupt in the fourth quarter.
Monroe’s ball-handling coolness under pressure was significant and has been a benchmark of his play for four years. Monroe is the Saints’ handyman, the one to whom they turn to get the ball up court and position the offense.
The 6-foot, 3-inch senior was particularly effective last week when Eastvale Roosevelt took a 22-13 lead and had the Saints on their heels before St. Augustine rallied to a 54-52 victory before an overflow crowd at Daugherty Gymnasium.
Monroe and his senior counterpart, Martin Tombe, who hit two, big three-point shots in the fourth quarter, again will carry the Saints’ hopes against the favored San Fernando Valley squad.
Guess: Crespi 66, St. Augustine 60.
+El Camino is thriving in D-IV, having routed Rancho Mirage, 90-66, and upsetting No. 1 seed Pomona Diamond Ranch, 63-58, after surviving a 30-point fourth quarter by the host Panthers.
The eight-seed Wildcats (29-6) now travel to Calabasas to take on the five-seed, 28-6 Viewpoint Panthers, who have victories over Kern County Taft Union, 77-37, and 76-69 over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
El Camino, coached by former Army-Navy boss Tom Tarantino, has rallied after losing to Kearny, 66-43, in the San Diego Section D-I finals.
The Wildcats have their best chance of getting past the semifinals since the Millenium-era teams coached by Ray Johnson annually were the San Diego Section’s best.
Guess: El Camino 59, Viewpoint 55.
+The four-seed Mission Hills (29-3) girls draw the No. 1 seed and host West Hills Chaminade (28-4).
The Grizzlies advanced with a 49-45 victory over Los Angeles Windward. Chaminade defeated Los Angeles Palisades, 79-67.
Guess: Chaminade 62, Mission Hills 50.
MORE QUARTERFINALS RESULTS
11 Grossmont 50, @3 Gardena Serra 65.
9 Bonita Vista 56, @1 Santa Maria St. Joseph 97.
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