CIF Basketball Playoffs Preview: Moore League Sends 11 Teams • Long Beach Post

From We haven’t been personally present at the unveiling of every single bracket in CIF playoff history, but we’re relatively certain in saying this is a first: of the 14 boys’ and girls’ teams in the Moore League, 11 are in the 2009 postseason.  Eleven of fourteen—a better percentage than the number of NBA teams in the playoffs, even.  How did this insanity happen, and where will our local teams be playing in the postseason?  Read on, and come back late Wednesday and Thursday nights for live updates, and to see who’s advancing to the second round.

Boys’ Bracket

FIRST ROUND: Wednesday, February 18th, 7:30pm

Jordan vs. Bell Gardens
Jordan was the top seed from the Moore League, and is ranked at number 8, in a 32-team bracket.  The Panthers are also one of only two league teams that will host a playoff game on opening night—they’ll get the Bell Garden Lancers on Wednesday.  The Lancers, at 13-13 overall, are the number three seed from the Almont League, and could end up a dangerous first-round draw.  Their best scorer is a somewhat-undersized guard named Travon Williams, a senior who’s averaging 16 points a game this season.  Bell Gardens’ offense is somewhat impressive, but where we think they’re likely to lose the game is on defense—if Poly and Millikan have struggled to contain the Panthers’ offensive explosion, we think the Lancers will have their hands full as well.  Look to see Jordan still playing on Friday.

Millikan @ Los Alamitos
This may be the most entertaining matchup of the first round, if you’re a Moore League fan.  Millikan gets in as an at-large bid, to the surprise of nobody.  “We knew whoever lost the playoff game last Friday had a good chance,” said Rams coach Jeff Breuklander, “but it’s tough to leave it to CIF to make the choice.  Making the playoffs was our goal at the beginning of the season, so we’re happy.”  The Rams already played the Griffins once this season, in just their second contest—and they got thwumped.  But the Rams beat them in their Fall league, and Los Al certainly won’t have much of a home court advantage in this battle of Spring Street.  The Griffs are bigger than the Rams, but if Kierre Beverly has one of his insane nights, this could be a great one.  “Defense travels well,” adds Breuklander, and if his team’s best effort finds itself in Los Alamitos on Wednesday…well, we could have a big upset on our hands (Los Al is ranked fourth in the bracket).

Lakewood @ Etiwanda
Not that Millikan is getting off easy by playing Los Al, but Lakewood, who did win their Friday playoff with the Rams, may have gotten a harder draw in the number 5 Etiwanda Eagles.  First there’s the distance (Etiwanda, in case you didn’t know for some reason, is near Rancho Cucamonga).  Then, the Eagles have a quality big man in Perris Blackwell that’s going to be very hard to match up against—Blackwell is 6’9″, 250 pounds, scores 15 points a game, and we understand he has a jump shot.  Yikes.  The Lancers will need junior phenom Jared Garber to have the best game of his life if they want to get out of Etiwanda with a win.  We like Garber, but find it hard to see it happening.

Poly vs. Montebello
Poly is the other team hosting a playoff game, since they’re Moore League runner-up, and an 11-seed in the bracket.  ‘Rabbits coach Sharrief Metoyer sounded excited when we talked to him yesterday morning, eager to begin the playoffs, and hopefully shake off the slump his team has been in.  “We’re happy to have an opportunity to continue our season,” he said.  “And at home, too.  You always want to be playing, and you always want to be playing at home, too.”  He didn’t know much about the Montebello Oilers, yet, but pointed out they’re in the same league (Almont) as Jordan’s opponent, so there might be a chance for some Atlantic Ave. info-swapping.  At 18-10 and averaging just 58 points a game, it could be easy to overlook the Oilers, but that would be a mistake—they’re big.  Their guards aren’t big, and actually, their forwards are a big undersized, too.  But starting center and leading scorer Antonio Worthy more than makes up for his teammates, at 6’10” and 300 pounds.  He’s also a sophomore, which means he and Poly’s Ryan Anderson can swap stories about AP US History while they’re banging in the key.  Look for the Oilers to be a tough, but one-dimensional opponent, and for Poly to be playing in the second round.

Wilson @ Oxnard
Wilson got in as the third-place squad from the league, but they’re our wild card.  If the Bruins bring their best game, there’s only a handful of teams in the bracket who could still put them down.  If they come out flat, as they did in scoring just 8 points in the first half recently against Lakewood, they’re in a lot of trouble.  If they’re going to bring their best game, too, they’re going to have to bring it an awfully long way, almost 90 miles from campus out to Oxnard—the Yellowjackets will be looking to spoil their trip with a defense that averages ten steals and five blocks a game.  We also understand they’re excellent rebounders.  And while Mike Wilders is the man for Wilson, the ‘Jackets rely on Kevin Mulloy, a 6’6″ junior forward who leads the team in points, rebounds and blocked shots.  If Wilson does a better job shutting down Mulloy than the Yellowjackets do shutting down Mike Wilder, the Bruins will have plenty to celebrate on the long, long, loooooooong drive home.

Compton @ Simi Valley

Did we just write Division IIA?  Uh, yeah.  Compton, despite finishing sixth in a seven-team league, and posting a losing record both in league play and overall, got a bid into the postseason tournament for a lower division.  And you know what?  We’re pretty excited about it, not just because they make it 11 teams out of 14 in the postseason (11!  Out of 14!), but because coach Tony Thomas has a quality program he’s building with a lot of young players, and this kind of experience will be a great way to build his team’s…experience.  They’ll likely come out of Simi Valley with a loss and something to grow for next year—but if they can shut down the undersized (read: skinny) star for the Pioneers (that would be 6’2″ 175-pound Brad Lewis, who averages 24 points a game), they could surprise some people.

Click here to read the rest of the article (including the playoff-bound girls teams) by Mike Guardabascio…

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