Frank Says: Nine of the players who started for the teams in the 2016 Southern Regional Open finale a year ago in the Pyramid return for this game. And the absence of the one who doesn’t – UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball – is the reason why it’s a safe pick to go with Bishop Montgomery to snap a three-game losing streak (a opening round game of the 2014 first-ever SS Open bracket and twice last season) to Chino Hills. The Knights have been nothing short of phenomenal in the post season, with consecutive wins over the now-No.’s 18 (Oak Park), 10 (Santa Margarita), 4 (Sierra Canyon), 2 (Mater Dei) and 12 (Torrey Pines). The Knights’ Ethan Thompson will be the best player on the floor but the ability of Jordan Schakel and Fletcher Tynen to wall the Huskies’ Elizjah Scott and Onyeka Okongwu away from the offensive glass, and of any combination of Thompson, David Singleton and Gianni Hunt to limit the Ball Brothers’ jump shooting effectiveness will dictate the outcome of the game.
This Season: 30-2, Southern Section Open Division semifinalist
Coach: Steph Gilling
Record vs. Top 25: 9-1
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 3
College-Bound Seniors: LiAngelo Ball (UCLA) and Elizjah Scott (Loyola Marymount).
This Season: 28-2, Southern Section Open Division champion
Coach: Doug Mitchell
Record vs. Top 25: 9-0
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 1
College-Bound Seniors: Ethan Thompson (Oregon State) and Jordan Schakel (San Diego State)
Frank Says: The Saints stunned host (and No. 3 seed) Sierra Canyon Friday night to earn a third opportunity to beat the Monarchs this season after losses to them on Dec. 3 (the final of the Mission Viejo Diablo Inferno) and two months later (in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei). The second meeting was much more competitive – even with the presence of 7-2 Bol Bol in Mater Dei’s lineup after he joined the program a few weeks before. That should enhance the Saints’ confidence, right? Three of the Top 10 juniors in California will be on the floor in Bol Bol and Spencer Freedman of Mater Dei, and 6-8 Taeshon Cherry of the Saints.
This Season: 28-4, San Diego Open Division champion
Coach: Mike Haupt
Record vs. Top 25: 5-4
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 9
College-Bound seniors: None
This Season: 32-2, Southern Section Open runner-up
Coach: Gary McKnight
Record vs. Top 25: 12-2
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 2
College-Bound Seniors: Justice Sueing (Cal) and Miles Brookins (La Salle).
Frank Says: The visiting Huskies lost to the Spartans in the same building on Feb. 17 (78-69). They’ll need to do a lot better getting out to the Spartans’ jump shooters – and containing Justin Hemsley – than they did the first time around. But Centennial freshman D.J. Davis – who only joined the program six weeks ago – has been a big factor lately, scoring 24 points for the Huskies in their win over Redondo Saturday night.
This Season: 26-9, Southern Section Open Division
Coach: Josh Giles
Record vs. Top 25: 6-8
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 9
College-Bound Seniors: Center Jalen Hill (UCLA) and injured guard Gio Nelson (UC Davis).
This Season: 31-4, South Section Open Division
Coach: Mike LeDuc
Record vs. Top 25: 6-4
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 6
College-Bound Seniors: None but 6-6 Justin Hemsley almost assured will have a lot of D-I options in the spring.
Frank Says: The Toreadors knocked off JSerra and Vista last week but will face one of the two best teams (with Birmingham) that they’ve encountered this season in this one. Juniors Antwan January and Kihei Clark give the visitors a puncher’s chance in this one. But it’s tough to pick against Matt Mitchell and Jemarl Baker in their final home game with Roosevelt.
This Season: 27-10, L.A. City Open Division
Coach: Derrick Taylor
Record vs. Top 25: 5-8
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 11
College-Bound Seniors: None
This Season: 23-8, Southern Section Open Division
Coach: Steve Singleton
Record vs. Top 25: 10-7
Scorebook Live So-Cal Power Ranking: 8
College-Bound Seniors: Guard Jemarl Baker (Cal) and Matt Mitchell (Cal State Fullerton)