Corona Centennial draws No. 1 seed in Open Division playoffs

“All roads lead through Corona Centennial.”

That’s the testimony of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame basketball coach Matt Sargeant, and likely the opinion of every coach trying to win the eight-team Southern Section Open Division playoffs, according to the bracket released Sunday.

Centennial (25-3) is the two-time defending champion and earned the No. 1 spot for the tournament, which will be split into four-team pools, with pool winners meeting at the Honda Center on February 25.

“Our reward for being No. 1 is going up against two Mission League teams,” said Huskies coach Josh Giles.

The Huskies will open Friday at home with a fan-favorite game that should sell out in seconds — against No. 8 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. Then there are home games against No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 4 Torrance Bishop Montgomery.

Studio City Harvard-Westlake (28-1) has been ranked No. 1 in every coach poll since Jan. 9, but earned second place. The Wolverines host No. 7 Playa del Rey St. Bernard in their pool opener on Friday, then play No. 6 Bellflower St. John Bosco and No. 3 Santa Clarita West Ranch.

Much intrigue will center on Sierra Canyon, who lost three games to Mission League rivals Harvard-Westlake and Notre Dame in the past two weeks after being considered one of the best teams in the nation before the season. Bronny James returned from a knee injury but the status of Isaiah Elohim, another standout player who is suffering from an ankle injury, is uncertain. The Trailblazers were the last team. Otherwise they would have been No. 1 in Division 1, which went to Etiwanda.

The eight-man girls’ open division tournament centers on No. 1 Sierra Canyon (26-0) and No. 2 Etiwanda (26-2). It’s like their roles have been reversed since last season when Etiwanda went unbeaten and beat Sierra Canyon in the finals. The Trailblazers have not lost since, winning the regional and state titles last spring before going unbeaten in the regular season behind nation No. 1 Juju Watkins.

“They’re the best team I’ve seen from head to toe in a long time,” said Etiwanda coach Stan Delus.

If Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda make it through their pools, they would meet at the Honda Center on February 25th.

Sierra Canyon hosts No. 8 Bishop Montgomery on Saturday, followed by games against No. 5 Ontario Christian and No. 4 Newport Beach Sage Hill. Etiwanda hosts No.7 Corona Santiago, then plays No.6 Windward and No.3 Santa Ana Mater Dei.

In the Division 1 boys’ playoffs, Santa Ana Mater Dei is ranked No. 2 behind Etiwanda. It’s the first time in 10 seasons that the Monarchs haven’t made it to the Open Division. Corona Centennial draws No. 1 seed in Open Division playoffs

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