Inland Empire: Corona Centennial set to host Redlands East Valley

Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

First round

Redlands East Valley at Corona Centennial, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial is seeded No. 2 in this bracket, mainly due to the efforts of its Big Three. Michael Caffey has signed with Long Beach State, Dominique Dunning with New Mexico and Gelaun Wheelwright with Weber State. Caffey began the season as the third option but he has elevated himself into the player most likely to take the big shot down the stretch. He was pivotal in the Huskies’ victory against Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 1AA semifinals.

2. How will the guard-oriented Huskies handle Paulin Mpawe, the 6-9 center for REV who has signed with Pepperdine? Centennial didn’t have an answer for California-bound center Ryan Anderson in the Southern Section Division 1AA championship game Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 6-10 senior for Long Beach Poly had 18 points and 21 rebounds in the 68-52 victory. Mpawe is averaging 14 points and 11.2 rebounds.

3. You can pretty much bet the farm that the Huskies will string together a sizable run during a game, usually turning a close contest into a route. REV needs to be cognizant of when that’s occurring and use its timeouts wisely. With Mpawe and leading scorer Terrell Todd, a senior guard, the Wildcats have the pieces to slow the game into a half-court tug-of-war, but they need to limit their turnovers, especially while bringing the ball upcourt.

4. The Southern California Regionals are different than the section playoffs in that the higher-seeded team gets home-court advantage. Centennial hasn’t played a whole lot of home games this season. This will be just its ninth at Centennial High this season, and second of the postseason. Still, they are 8-0 at home and haven’t lost in their own gymnasium since January 2009.

5. REV hasn’t played since Feb. 25, when the Wildcats lost to Los Angeles Loyola, 90-60, in a Division 1A semifinal at Cal State Los Angeles and, for all intents and purposes, checked out of that game about the second quarter. Centennial, on the other hand, is fresh off their loss to Long Beach Poly and hungry to get back to its winning ways. If staying in rhythm is the key to scoring the basketball, the Huskies have that advantage as well.