A staggering 22 South County prep basketball teams — 11 boys teams and 11 girls teams — took the hardwood floor this week as the San Diego Section divisional playoffs tipped off.
Success in opening round games by area teams has not been very pronounced in recent years. This year, however, 10 squads, including seven Metro Conference teams, remain in contention for divisional titles entering this weekend’s quarterfinals.
It’s an encouraging number but, of course, there were disappointments. Of the four teams that either shared or won outright possession of Metro titles this season (Mesa League or South Bay League), only one advanced with a first round win.
South Bay League co-champion San Ysidro (24-5), seeded third in the Division I boys field, will host 11th-seeded Rancho Buena Vista (12-17) Friday at 7 p.m. after eliminating 14th-seeded Rancho Bernardo (12-17) by a score of 83-76 in Tuesday’s opening round.
RBV, however, prevented a match-up of reigning Metro champions after topping Mesa League kingpin Eastlake, 70-63, on Tuesday. The Titans (18-10) entered the playoffs seeded sixth.
Sweetwater forced a tie for the SBL boys title with a clutch 91-86 win at San Ysidro on Feb. 16 but drew fifth-seeded Vista in the opening round of the Division I playoffs as a reward, falling 77-60.
Johnny Gonzalez led the Red Devils (17-12) with 24 points in the loss to the Panthers (23-7). He had 32 points in the regular season finale against San Ysidro.
Sweetwater’s reigning SBL championship girls team also met an early playoff demise following a 57-41 loss to visiting El Camino on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, third-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (20-5) will host seventh-seeded Francis Parker (8-17) in a Division IV girls quarterfinal contest Saturday at 7 p.m. The Mesa League champion Crusaders are currently working on a 13-game winning streak.
And then there are the Cinderella stories. Ocean View Christian Academy earned the No. 1 seed among Division V girls teams and defeated Escondido Adventist, 71-60, in Wednesday’s opening round. The Patriots (20-2) will play ninth-seeded Julian (9-11) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Both Olympian's boys and girls teams advanced with first-round victories in Division III play. Also scoring first-round victories for the Metro Conference were Eastlake (Division I girls), Bonita Vista (Division II girls) and Mater Dei Catholic (Division IV boys).
San Diego Academy and Calvary Christian Academy both captured openers in the Division V boys bracket.
Eastlake topped visiting Torrey Pines, 43-33, behind 17 points from Darrian Castillo and 11 points from Kylie Diaz. The Titans improved to 26-3 on the season with the win.
Defense dominated the first half, with both teams tied at 11 at halftime. Eastlake opened up a lead via a 19-11 scoring edge in the third quarter.
Bonita Vista had two players score in double figures in its 44-31 victory against visiting Ramona: Ashley Quidolet (15) and Hannah Flippen (12). Dionne Graham led the Barons (16-12) with nine rebounds.
Bonita Vista turned a narrow 28-24 lead after three quarters into a comfortable victory on the strength of a 16-5 scoring run in the final quarter.
In a Division III girls game, Olympian (15-12) broke out early to a 29-9 halftime lead on host Imperial en route to claiming a 51-33 first round victory.
In a Division III boys game, Olympian used a strong finish to nail down a 60-45 first round win against visiting Montgomery. Billy Moses led the Eagles (19-9) with 16 points, followed by teammates Nestor Cervantes (14 points) and Jamar Clarke (10 points). Jordan Fagan grabbed 14 rebounds to pace the victors.
In a Division IV first round game, Mater Dei (10-17) topped visiting Guajome Park Academy 62-47.
Among the South Bay’s complement of small private schools, San Diego Academy opened the 2012 playoffs with promise after defeating visiting Vista Calvary Christian Academy, 59-47, behind 16 points from Prynz Zulueta and 14 points from Jelani Shegog. Shegog and Kyle Smith tied for the team lead with 11 rebounds.
The win boosted the Cavaliers to 17-5 on the season.
Sunset League rival Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy (18-6) also got off to a good start with a 57-53 first round victory against visiting Pacific Ridge. Top scorers for CCA included Bryce Scheckel (15), Trace Scheckel (14), Justin Harrison (14) and Christian Quidang (12).
For updated playoff brackets, visit the Web site at www.cifsds.org.