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Serra and guard Marquise Lee (22) are No. 1 in the tough Division IIIA bracket while Price and center Richard Solomon (21) are an overwhelming favorite to win the Division IVAA bracket Photo Credit: Nick Koza for Sentinel
Serra, Centennial headline state's toughest bracket
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor
As I stated in last week's poll, no division in the Southern Section is more competitive than the Division IIIA bracket. Just look at the top four seeds.
No. 1 Gardena Serra and No. 2 Harvard-Westlake are both ranked in the Top 10 of the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings and No. 3 Compton Centennial is in the mix at No. 17. And No. 4 Cerritos Gahr has been one of the top teams in the region.
Outside of the Division IAA bracket with two Top 5 teams in the state in Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly with Corona Centennial at No. 16, no division is more loaded at the top.
Serra's march in the postseason will be with a heavy heart following the sudden death of Steven Autry, the father of senior guard Vaughn Autry. The elder Autry passed away last Saturday from congestive heart failure.
Starting with yesterday's playoff opener against Servite, the team will wear black socks to honor Autry - who was a vocal presence at every game and often hosted meals for the team.
The Cavaliers have only lost to Long Beach Poly and Taft so they should have no problem getting to the semifinals against Gahr. It'll be a great guard matchup between Serra's Autry and Keith Shamburger and Gahr's Ervin Ware, one of the more underrated players in the region.
Centennial has been flying under the radar since league play started but the postseason could be one more reminder of how tough they played earlier this year and how talented senior guard Deonte Burton is.
They could have their hands full with Harvard-Westlake and their strong post presence in senior forward Erik Swoope.
This is Serra's division to lose but there will be more great games here than anywhere else...
Long Beach Poly, the No. 2 seed in Division IAA, is arguably the hottest team heading into the playoffs, having yet to lose a game in 2010. They started the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak prior to their opener against Great Oak yesterday.
It's easy to look ahead to a Poly-Mater Dei meeting in the finals. The only thing threatening it is Corona Centennial as the No. 3 seed but the Inland Empire's best doesn't have the depth to match with Long Beach Poly.
The Jackrabbits are back at full strength with Shelton Boykins nearly having a double-double in the regular season finale. And that should make Mater Dei worry as the Monarchs hope to end a four-year CIF title drought...
Leuzinger enters the Division IA playoffs as the No. 3 seed and could have an interesting matchup with Loyola in the semifinals. And Compton, as the No. 7 seed, could be a sleeper in the Division IIAA bracket after giving Poly all they could handle in their last meaning.
Is there an easier bet to make this postseason than Price winning the Division IVAA title? That's the easiest title to claim even in a division with Orange Lutheran and Inglewood.
On the girls' basketball side, Long Beach Poly (23-2) is the overwhelming favorite to win their third CIF title in the four years as the No. 1 seed in the Division I-AA bracket.
With six Division I players, you can go ahead and pencil them for a run to Bakersfield for the state championship since unfortunately Mater Dei and Brea Olinda are in the Division II bracket.
Inglewood enters the Division IIIAA bracket as the No. 2 seed as they look to return to the CIF Finals for the second consecutive season. The defending Southern California state regional champs have been tested all year and are the favorites in this bracket.
Compton Centennial will head to South Pasadena as the No. 6 seed in the Division IVAA bracket and Morningside, the No. 11 seed, travels to Azusa.
Gardena Serra has a bye tonight and will open their postseason Saturday at home against the winner of the Ontario Christian-CAMS game.