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Eleven Basketball Teams, One Dream

Posted: February 11, 2008 2:37 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2008 2:03 a.m.

Saugus High's Breann Wilson, left, seen here after a steal against Hart Friday night, will be key in the playoffs. The Centurions girls team is among 11 Foothill League basketball teams that will be playoff-bound.03

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The CIF-Southern Section high school basketball playoff brackets were released Sunday and they mention the words "Foothill" and "League" often.

With the exception of the Golden Valley High girls basketball team, every Foothill hoops team has reached the postseason, with the top five Foothill League girls teams and all six Foothill League boys teams being listed on brackets.
Just not prominently.
Only the eighth-seeded Hart High girls team, Division I-A champions two seasons ago and semifinalists last year, are seeded among the top eight teams in a division this year. Saugus, co-champions with Hart in the Foothill League this year, is ninth in the Division I-A.
Hart hosts Bellflower Saturday. Saugus will also have a first-round home game, facing Dana Hills - a team Olsson said has three six-footers.
It could be a difficult early test for Saugus, especially with the availability of its best post player Gabrielle Conn (knee injury) uncertain. She will undergo an MRI today and Saugus head coach Eric Olsson predicted his leading rebounder has a 30 percent shot of playing in the opener.
Going beyond the elite eight could be trouble for both teams as potential quarterfinal matchups loom against top-seed Redondo Union for Hart and No. 2 Muir for Saugus.
"I think it would be very difficult for any of us to make a very far run this year," Olsson said. "The only team I think really has a good chance is Hart because they have that one unstoppable player (center Megan Ford) on the inside."
And that's the path of the local heavyweights. After those two comes some intrigue.
The Canyon High girls, third place in the Foothill League, received perhaps the harshest placement of all with a first-round road matchup against third-seeded Mira Costa.
Mira Costa, which beat Hart in the semifinals last season was co-Bay League champions with Redondo Union, topping Redondo Union once already this season.
"They are even better than last year," Olsson said.
It's a head-scratcher, as the league's third-place team has been given a tougher starter than any other Santa Clarita team..
Fourth-place Valencia will have to fight its way out of a road wild-card matchup against Crescenta Valley, the Pacific League's fourth-place selection. But with a win, the Vikings would face unseeded Mission Viejo.
Valencia played and beat Crescenta Valley in its first-round matchup a year ago en route to the quarterfinals.
West Ranch, meanwhile, will forgo the wildcat process and still play a lower-seeded opponent than Canyon. The Wildcat girls, earning their first-ever playoff selection despite a fifth-place tying 1-9 record in league play, needed a win over Golden Valley Friday to earn the 12th win necessary for consideration.
It took three overtimes.
"In my pregame speech to my girls I told them they were not going to lose that game," said West Ranch head coach Ron Manalastas. "I told them I wasn't going to let them. This is a great thing for us to build on."
They'll take on fifth-seeded Foothill High on the road.
It's a matchup the Cowboys, who beat the Wildcats twice and finished two spots ahead of them in the standings, might have traded for.
"I have no emotion about it," said Cowboys head coach Stan Delus. "It is what it is. We'll play who they put us up against and our girls have confidence."
Though the Foothill League boys teams pulled off a clean sweep of playoff entrants, things could similarly be difficult.
Based on the seedings, the league apparently still much to prove after last year's first-round mass exodus which left all five representatives eliminated in the first round.
Foothill League champion Valencia was able to nab only a No. 11 seed in Sunday's Division II-AA parings.
The Vikings will host the winner of a wild-card game between Crescenta Valley and Los Altos in the first round. Second-place Saugus will also get a home first-round game, against former league rival Burroughs.
Third-place West Ranch, making its first-ever playoff appearance in school history, will travel to take on No. 10 Cajon in the first-round. A reward for a win would be a second-round matchup against top-ranked Eisenhower.
Hart, Canyon and Golden Valley are wildcards, with fourth-place Hart and fifth-place Canyon both being forced to start its playoff runs with road games.
Canyon will visit Temecula Valley Wednesday night with the winner taking on No. 8 Bonita in the first round. Hart will travel to A.B. Miller in a matchup whose winner will face No. 13 La Habra.
Hart enters with the momentum of spoiling Saugus' title hopes with a regular-season-ending win and a close call in the second half of league play against champion Valencia.
"I20like our chances," said Hart head coach Tom Kelly.
The same momentum does not belong to Golden Valley.
The Grizzlies, wild-card winners a year ago in their first-ever trip, reached the playoffs again despite going winless against league competition. They will host Burbank, a team they replaced in the Foothill League two seasons ago Wednesday, setting up a potential first-round matchup against No. 2 Serra.
"Nobody wants to go 0-10 in league," said Grizzlies coach Chris Printz. "But I believe our body of work shows we belong here. We have not lost to a bad team."
All games start at 7:30 p.m.


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