First Round Upsets Add Intrigue to CIF State Division I Playoff Picture



Follow (1) Damien vs. (9) Fairfax

Frank Says: The Lions, with their second tallest starter (sophomore Robert McRae/hand injury) out of the line Wednesday night, did a fine job in countering Long Beach Poly’s massive size advantage. The Spartans aren’t nearly as tall as LB Poly but, in 6-6 Justin Hemsley, they have a formidable inside presence and an impressive collection of jump shooters around him. Coach Mike LeDuc’s Damien squad is the best team in the South Regional that isn’t playing in the Open Division – and, very likely, one of the six best teams in California.


This Season: 26-5, L.A. City Section Open Division

Coach: Steve Baik

Record vs. Top 25: 6-5

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 15

College-Bound Seniors: None


This Season: 30-4, South Section Open Division

Coach: Mike LeDuc

Record vs. Top 25: 5-4

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 6

College-Bound Seniors: Justin Hemsley is expected to sign in the spring.


Follow (4) Corona Centennial vs. (5) Redondo Union

Frank Says: The visiting Sea Hawks have an exceptional collection of guards, notably Ryse Williams, who scored 30 points in his team’s 93-81 win over Central Section D-II champion Bakersfield Ridgeview Wednesday night. The Huskies’ biggest edge is in the middle, where Coach Josh Giles’ club has a 6-9 shot-blocker/dunker-deluxe Jalen Hill.


This Season: 26-6, Southern Section Open Division

Coach: Victor Martin

Record vs. Top 25: 3-4

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 16

College-Bound Seniors: Guard Ryse Williams (Loyola Marymount)


This Season: 25-9, Southern Section Open Division

Coach: Josh Giles

Record vs. Top 25: 5-8

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 12

College-Bound Seniors: Center Jalen Hill (UCLA) and injured guard Gio Nelson (UC Davis).


Follow (3) Taft vs. (11) Vista

Frank Says: This is a rematch of a Dec. 30 game at Damien High, when Vista knocked off Taft, 60-52, in the championship game of the Silver Division of the first Classic at Damien Tournament. Underclass guards Isaiah Morris, Taurus Samuels and Jordan Hilstock combined for 76 points in Vista’s 97-94 OT upset at Santa Margarita Wednesday night. But Taft is playing very well right now and handled a Southern Section Open team (JSerra) Wednesday night by 14 points. Six-eight junior Antwan January is a much more dominant presence inside for Taft now than he was on Dec. 30.


This Season: 27-4, San Diego Open Division

Coach: Anthony Bolton

Record vs. Top 25: 2-2

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 25

College-Bound Seniors: None


This Season: 26-10, L.A. City Open Division

Coach: Derrick Taylor

Record vs. Top 25: 4-8

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 18

College-Bound Seniors: None


(2) Roosevelt vs. (10) Oak Park

Frank Says: This will be the third meeting of these teams this season, with Roosevelt winning in the second round of the Classic at Damien (Gold Division) in December and a week ago, on the road, in a consolation semifinal of the SS Open Division. Riley Battin and brothers Wes and Clark Slajchert (the latter, a freshman, hit the game-winning 3 in overtime at No. 7 seed Foothills Christian Wednesday night) will need exceptional efforts if Oak Park is to get its first win against Jemarl Baker and Matt Mitchell & Co.


This Season: 23-8, Southern Section Open Division

Coach: Aaron Shaw

Record vs. Top 25: 4-7

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 17

College-Bound Seniors: None


This Season: 22-8, Southern Section Open Division

Coach: Steve Singleton

Record vs. Top 25: 9-7

Scorebook Live So Cal Power Ranking: 8

College-Bound Seniors: Guard Jemarl Baker (Cal) and Matt Mitchell (Cal State Fullerton)


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