Looking ahead in CIF state playoffs

Coaches never like to look ahead. But sportswriters do.

Here are some interesting potential match-ups in the CIF State Boys Basketball Southern California Regional playoffs that begin on Wednesday night.

Few teams have been able to beat Mater Dei, the top-seeded team in the Division I regional bracket. Woodland Hills Taft, the No. 3 seed team in the Division I playoffs, might be the one team to give Mater Dei some trouble if the two teams meet in the Division I regional championship game.

Taft has never made it past the semifinals of the CIF State regional playoffs. But first-year coach Jason Hart has his kids playing with a ton of confidence and freedom. This could be the year Taft dunks its way to the Southern California Regional final and perhaps a spot in the state championship.

No team from California has been able to beat Mater Dei this season. The only two losses for the Monarchs were against Grace Prep from Texas and Gill St. Bernard’s from New Jersey.

Two teams from the Marmonte League are in the Division II regional and could meet in the championship game, although it would be very unlikely.

Thousand Oaks is the No. 13 seed in the Division II regional and has fifth-seeded Inglewood, fourth-seeded Elsinore and top-seeded La Costa Canyon in its half of the bracket. Thousand Oaks opens on the road against Elsinore.

Royal is the No. 10 seed, plays seventh-seeded San Joaquin Memorial in the first round, and, if the Highlanders make it to the second round, would meet second-seeded Mayfair.

El Camino Real, the City Section Division 2 champion, is also in the Division II Southern California Regional and has a potentially tough second-round game against top-seeded La Costa Canyon.

The Division III regional has an interesting first-round game. Oak Park, the fifth seed in the Division III regional, plays Grant, the No. 12 seed.

Oak Park was the runner-up in the Southern Section Division 3A playoffs. Grant was the runner-up in the City Section Division 3 playoffs. Both teams are coming off tough losses in championship games and neither wants to end the season with back-to-back defeats.

Oak Park lost by 12 points to Alemany, the top-seeded team in the Division III Southern California Regional. Grant lost, 45-39, to Bell in the City Section Division 3 championship game.

Oak Park could potentially meet Alemany again in the semifinals of the regional playoffs.

Grant and Bell would need a lot of help for a rematch. They wouldn’t meet until the championship game of the Southern California Regional.

Campbell Hall is getting hot at the right time. The Vikings (13-17) are the only team in the Division IV regional with a losing record. They made it to the Southern Section Division 4A semifinals and lost to eventual champion Pacific Hills.

Crespi is looking to end its up-and-down season on an uptick. The Celts reached the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs before losing a tight one, 51-49, to La Verne Lutheran.

Crespi is the No. 4 seed in the Division IV regional and could meet second-seeded Lutheran again in the championship game.

Renaissance Academy has yet to be challenged in the playoffs. The Wildcats have won all their Southern Section Division 6 playoffs games by an average margin of 47.8 points. Their biggest win was 121-43 over Bethel Christian in the second round.

Renaissance Academy won the Division 6 championship by 22 points, 67-45, over California Lutheran.

California Lutheran is the No. 10 seed in the Division V regional playoffs and could meet Renaissance Academy again in the semifinals.

Another potential semifinal matchup could be a Harbor League rematch between Ribet Academy and Renaissance Academy. Ribet Academy handed Renaissance Academy (24-6) one of its few losses of the season, 57-56, on Feb. 7.

Providence from Burbank and Village Christian from Sun Valley could meet in the second round of the Division V regional.

Village Christian, the fifth-seeded team in the Division V regional, is the favorite in its first-round game against San Diego Jewish Academy.

Providence would need to upset fourth-seeded Mission Prep from San Luis Obispo on the road in the first round to play Village Christian in the second round.