State basketball playoffs come to Long Beach

The CIF State basketball playoffs come to Long Beach this week, with as many as six games happening at Wilson and St. Anthony between Tuesday and Saturday. The city qualified three teams for the state playoffs, tied for the most teams to make it from Long Beach in the last three decades.

Wilson

The newly-minted CIF-SS Division 3A champion Wilson girls’ team earned the top seed in the CIF State Division 2 playoffs. Because the higher seed always hosts in the state playoffs, the Bruins would be at home all the way up to the state championship in Sacramento, if they can keep advancing.

Wilson and star guard Ashley Hawkins will face a higher level of competition in state, and the tournament goes fast, with games tonight, Thursday, Saturday and next Tuesday in advance of the state championships on March 14.

The Bruins host Mira Costa tonight at 7 p.m.

St. Anthony

The Saints earned a spot in the prestigious CIF-SS Open Division, but went 0-3 in pool play, falling to Sierra Canyon, Etiwanda and St. John Bosco. St. Anthony’s Open Division spot earned them a place in the state tournament, where they’ve got a great draw as the No. 2 seed in Division 1. The Saints host Damien tonight at 7 p.m. and would be at home for games on Thursday and Saturday if they continue to advance.

If the Saints make it all the way to next Tuesday’s SoCal Regional final, they’d likely face top-seed Bosco. It would be the fourth meeting between the two teams, with the Braves having won the last two, and the Saints having defeated them at their place at an early-season tournament.

Long Beach Poly

The Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball team didn’t make it out of the CIF-SS Open Division either, but the Jackrabbits did make the Open Division for the CIF State playoffs, a high honor. Poly is the No. 7 seed and is thus unlikely to get a home game in the state tournament. The Jackrabbits travel to No. 2 seed Mater Dei on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Poly beat the Monarchs earlier this year but Mater Dei has come on strong, winning last weekend’s CIF-SS Open Division championship over Windward.

Spring Sports

While the winter basketball season is still going strong, the spring season for high school sports is already underway. League competition begins this week for softball, volleyball and others, while baseball kicks off next week.

Here’s a look at the teams currently drawing rankings in the CIF Southern Section polls:

The St. Anthony softball team is No. 1 in Division 3 and overwhelming favorites to win this year’s CIF-SS championship in that division, with All-American Oklahoma signee Tiare Jennings leading the way. The Saints are off to an 8-0 start.

Long Beach Poly is ranked No. 6 in Division 4 and have their strongest squad in several seasons.

In lacrosse, it looks like Long Beach teams will have a big impact in the sport’s first season as an official CIF-SS sport. The Poly boys team is No. 4 in Division 3, while Cabrillo’s girls are No. 10 in Division 3.

The best sport in the city in the spring season—and in the entire school year, once again—will be track and field. The Poly boys are ranked No. 5 in Division 1, while three girls teams are ranked: Wilson at No. 3 and Poly at No. 4 in Division 1, and St. Anthony at No. 5 in Division 4.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.
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