The Southern Section girls’ basketball playoff pairings were released Sunday and a number of top Inland Empire teams are massed in Division 1AA, with a few others scattered elsewhere. First-round games begin Thursday. Here’s a rundown:
Moreno Valley Canyon Springs enters the playoffs as the fourth-seeded team in this division. The Cougars lost two games during the regular season and one was against second-seeded Long Beach Poly, 64-37, back on Dec. 2. Canyon Springs is led by Nebraska-bound guard Tear’a Laudermill, who is averaging 16.6 points. The division is loaded with other top I.E. teams, including fifth-seeded San Bernardino Cajon, sixth-seeded Etiwanda, eighth-seeded Fontana Summit and ninth-seeded Corona Santiago, all coming off league championships. Summit and Santiago face a potential second-round match up Saturday.
Rancho Cucamonga ended Etiwanda’s 66-game Baseline League winning streak this season but couldn’t hold on for the league title. The Cougars are seeded fourth in this division, two spots ahead of Big VIII League runner-up Corona Centennial. Sierra League champion Chino Hills is seeded seventh and opens Thursday against visiting Redlands East Valley.
Rialto ended Cajon’s 85-game league winning streak this season and went on to share the San Andreas League title with the Cowgirls. For their efforts, the Knights are the top-seeded team in this division. Rialto has an interesting first-round match up Thursday, hosting at-large selection Santa Margarita, which won the Division 3A title last season. Another team to watch is eighth-seeded Norco.
Indio went 23-2, including 12-0 in the Desert Valley League, and is seeded fourth in this division. The Rajahs only losses came against Division 1AA qualifiers Temecula Great Oak and Temecula Chaparral. Indio’s first-round opponent, Riverside North, finished 4-20 and lost its last 12 games. Citrus Belt League champion Rialto Eisenhower is seeded seventh.
Sunbelt League champion Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon enters as the sixth-seeded team in this division. The Titans open against Murrieta Mesa (3-22). De Anza League champion Yucca Valley is seeded eighth.