Piedmont Hills and Branham both have big games in the CCS playoffs this week
Avi Avora

A look at the five CCS enrollment divisions

February 19, 2019

With quarterfinals set for Tuesday and the chaos of back-to-back games in the rear-view mirror, the CCS boys basketball playoff picture has settled enough across the five enrollment divisions for some sense to be made of what’s currently doing on. Eight teams remain in each division, and the top four seeds, each with double byes into the quarterfinals, will have their first playoff action tonight.

Division I

As much parity as there was throughout the season among the teams in Division I, it’s not too much of a shock to see just one of the higher-seeded teams win in Saturday’s Second Round matchups. Not only did three teams win on the road Saturday, but two of those, Los Altos and Salinas, had also done so on Friday, reaching the quarterfinals as unseeded teams. Both didn’t have to travel far, with the Eagles beating Milpitas and Los Gatos while the Cowboys didn’t even need to leave town to avenge earlier losses to Alvarez and Alisal. It’s the third straight year Salinas has eliminated the Trojans.

As for the top four seeds, Piedmont Hills should be well-prepared for a Los Altos team that puts the clamps down defensively. Second-seeded Carlmont had a date with rival Sequoia planned for Tuesday until Homestead interrupted those plans by beating the Cherokees on Saturday. Palo Alto will host Independence, the lone home team to win on Saturday, and Salinas travels to fourth-seeded Cupertino.

Division II

The seeds have largely held up in Division II, with all four home teams winning Friday and three prevailing on Saturday. The lone lower-seeded team to crash the quarterfinal party is 11th-seeded Christopher, having beaten Wilcox on Saturday. The Cougars will travel to Mountain View Tuesday night with the hopes of preventing what would be an outstanding semifinal matchup between the Spartans and Valley Christian. For the Warriors to get there, they’ll need to take down Aragon in a rematch of last year’s championship game, a 57-36 Valley Christian win. Fourth-seeded Leigh hosts Willow Glen, looking to complete a three-game season sweep after winning two BVAL Mt. Hamilton showdowns by identical 62-54 scores. Top-ranked Leland plays host to league foe Branham, having beaten the Bruins by 23 and 27 points in two January meetings.

Division III

It’s still Monterey’s bracket to lose, but the other side of the Division III field has plenty of interest with the battle for the second spot in the championship game and the trip to the CIF State Tournament that accompanies it. Second-seeded Aptos will host 10th-seeded Pajaro Valley on Tuesday, while third-seeded Soquel hosts sixth-seeded Sobrato in a game that promises to deliver on defense. The Bulldogs posted a 28-25 win over Burlingame on Saturday, while the Knights haven’t allowed more than 46 points to an opponent in a month.

Pajaro Valley and North Monterey County both won on the road Saturday night against PAL teams, and they’ll be making much shorter trips on Tuesday to battle PCAL opponents. The Condors are facing the top-seeded Toreadores.

Division IV

With just 12 teams, the Division IV field didn’t play on Friday, but things should heat up quickly with an extremely deep field heading into the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The only road team to win on Saturday was ninth-seeded Menlo, holding eighth seed Terra Nova to 12 points over the final three quarters in a 45-24 win.

The Knights have an extremely intriguing matchup on Tuesday with their trip to Carmel, as Cole Kastner will be one of the toughest challenges J.T. Byrne has faced in the post all year. Menlo’s guards will have to keep up with athletes like Zach DeZee and Kai Lee to have a chance at pulling off the upset.

With so much debate surrounding the seeds in Division IV, teams that felt they were shorted by the seeding committee will have a chance to let their play do the talking on Tuesday night. In addition to the Menlo-Carmel tilt, King’s Academy travels to Jefferson, Sacred Heart Prep makes the trip to Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz welcomes Palma.

Division V

Two of the home teams in Division V went down on Saturday, with 12th-seeded Pacific Collegiate stunning fifth seed More and 10th seed Mountain View Academy making a happy trip home from Pacifica after beating seventh-seeded Pacific Bay Christian (formerly known as Alma Heights Christian until this year).

Like Division III, the top seed, in this case Eastside, is the heavy favorite, but the battle on the other side of the bracket for the second state tournament bid should be an interesting one. If second-seeded St. Francis SCP can get past MVA Tuesday night, the Sharks would face the winner of third-seeded Nueva and sixth seed Woodside Priory. Those two teams met back in December, a game Nueva won 48-36.

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