Prep Rally: Breaking down the high school basketball playoff pairings (2024)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s playoff time in basketball, soccer, girls’ water polo and wrestling. Lots of trophies and banners will be on the line.

Open Division intrigue

There’s parity for the Southern Section and City Section Open Division boys’ basketball playoffs. Everyone agrees that from No. 1 to No. 8, the seedings won’t really matter other than home-court advantage. Yes, the City Section is way down in talent and lacking a top team, but the games that begin Friday should be competitive and memorable. The Southern Section games will be almost like championship games every night because the teams and players are so good.

Open Division boys schedule.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 4, 2024


Pool A of the Southern Section Open Division has two amazing opening matchups on Friday: Defending Open Division champion Corona Centennial at defending state Open Division champion Harvard-Westlake and Sierra Canyon at St. John Bosco. That’s the strongest pool. Pool B has three teams who have never played in the Open Division: St. Pius X-St. Matthias, JSerra and Eastvale Roosevelt joining Mater Dei.

Here’s my column examining the Open Division.

Among the interesting notes, Calabasas will play at Shalhevet in a 2AA opener. Shalhevet won the first meeting this season. Shalhevet coach Ryan Coleman has a freshman son, Grayson, who’s a standout for Calabasas. It was a tough game for the two last time and neither is looking forward to a rematch.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, which started the season 24-0, then lost its last three games, was not chosen for the Open Division. It is top seeded in Division 1. Let’s just say the Knights are not happy. Talk about a team with a chip on its shoulder.

In the City Section, Cleveland received the No. 1 Open Division seed after tying Birmingham for the West Valley League title. Two teams left out of the Open Division were Washingnton Prep, which has a five-game winning streak, and Fairfax, which has a four-game winning streak. It’s wide open.

Open Division girls

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 4, 2024


Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda are the top seeds for the Southern Section girls’ Open Division playoffs.

Here are the City Section pairings.

Here are the Southern Section pairings.

Basketball rewind

Washington Prep

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 3, 2024

Washington Prep prevented King/Drew from going unbeaten in the Coliseum League and probably stopped King/Drew from being the No. 1 seed for the City Section Open Division playoffs with a 55-54 win in a league finale. The Generals are the No. 1 seed for the City Division I playoffs with a five-game winning streak.

Fairfax ended the regular season with four consecutive victories and appears to be nearing peak form just as the Division I playoffs begin.

South Pasadena won the Rio Hondo League title, the first time in 30 years.

Harvard-Westlake took the Mission League tournament with wins over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Crespi. Here’s the report of Notre Dame win and Crespi win. Crespi had the biggest upset with a win over Sierra Canyon.

Damien won the Baseline League title over Etiwanda behind 7-footer Nate Garcia.

Roosevelt won the Big VIII League title, ending Corona Centennial’s domination behind Brayden Burrries’ 31 points.

Birmingham won its first ever West Valley League girls’ championship and received the No. 1 seed for the City Section Open Division playoffs.


Here’s this week’s top 25 rankings by The Times.

Clippers want jerseys

The Clippers have come up with one of the coolest ideas ever: having a jersey from every high school basketball team in California on display at its new Intuit Dome.

Schools now need to donate their jerseys to the Clippers.

Here’s the link for schools to participate.


Every high school sports program wishes to develop players when they arrive as freshmen through their senior season. It used to be a common strategy, until impatience and promises of greener pastures made the idea obsolete in the minds of some parents.

It still can happen, with Windward’s rise front and center.

Coach DJ Gay has the Wildcats at 25-3 behind four talented juniors. Here’s the report.



It’s a new era for the Southern Section soccer playoffs with a new Open Division for boys and girls. It’s eight elite teams with separate pools where you play two home-and-away series before a winner-take-all final.

Santa Margarita is seeded No. 1 in girls and Arliington is seeded No. 1 in boys.

Here’s the girls’ soccer brackets.

Here’s the boys’ soccer brackets.

Congratulations to @SanPedroGSoccer sophomore midfielder @LeilaniSoccer as she broke the school’s all-time single season record with 36 goals for the 19-time Marine League champions. @breezepreps @latsondheimer @SBLiveCA @DamianCalhoun

— Jamaal Street (@JamaalStreet) February 3, 2024

The City Section will release its playoff pairings Monday.

Contreras boys won its first league title since the school opened in 2008.

Granada Hills won the West Valley League with an 8-1-1 record.

Fremont won the Coliseum League title for the ninth time in the last 10 years under new coach Emmanuel Corona, going 10-0-1 in league and 19-1-3 overall. Seniors Joshua Valenzuela, Franklin Orellana and Adrian Trujillo have led Fremont.


Prep Rally: Breaking down the high school basketball playoff pairings (2)

USC commit Augie Lopez of Loyola hit five home runs as a junior and is even stronger for his senior year.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a week from the start of the baseball and softball seasons. The Mission League held a media day at Harvard-Westlake.


All eight baseball coaches said they will be using electronic devices to communicate with their catchers as part of new rule allowing one-way devices.

Here’s the report on media day.

Big changes coming

Prep Rally: Breaking down the high school basketball playoff pairings (3)

Zabien Brown holds championship trophy for Mater Dei.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

A culture change is coming to the Southern Section playoff competition for the 2024-25 school year.

The Southern Section Council approved a proposal to make its football playoff format be used by all team sports. No longer will schools be placed in playoff divisions based on previous years results. Current results will be used along with computer rankings. Teams will be seeded one to 32, and schools could end up facing league opponents in the first round depending on the seeding.

New playoff format.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) February 1, 2024


Schools could be left out of the playoffs if they do not report their scores during the season. The vote was 79-8 to approve.

Here’s the report on changes.

Girls water polo

2024 Girls Water Polo Playoff Brackets Released!

— CIF LA City Section (@CIFLACS) February 1, 2024

Orange Lutheran has been the dominant Southern Section team in girls’ water polo and received the No. 1 seed for the Open Division playoffs.

Here’s the complete Southern Section pairings.

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Notes . . .

The transfer portal continues in high school football. Four all-league players from Los Alamitos have transferred to Long Beach Millikan. Here’s your update. . . .

Infielder Tyler Holland of Mission Viejo has committed to Arkansas. . . .

Henry Gonzales and Van Latham have been named co-coaches for the Carpinteria football program. . . .

Joe Brown is the new football coach and athletic director at Covina. . . .

Aaron Crone is the new football coach at Eastvale Roosevelt. He’s a former Roosevelt quarterback who takes over the program at the age of 30. . . .

Steve Anderson has resigned as football coach at Westminster. . . .

Don Cayer is out as football coach at Ganesha. . . .

Former St. John Bosco quarterback Quentin Davis is the new offensive coordinator at Servite. . . .

There was a fight involving basketball players at the Rancho Cucamonga-Upland basketball game, resulting in multiple suspensions, and a confrontation between parent and coach at the Long Beach Wilson-Cabrillo basketball game. . . . .

The CIF will be adding three sports in the coming years as state championships. Boys volleyball in 2024-25, competitive cheer in 2025-26 and boys and girls soccer in 2026-27. They will need to be approved by the sections. . . .

Junior linebacker Weston Port of San Juan Hills has committed to UCLA. . . .

Junior offensive tackle Jake Flores of JSerra has committed to Washington.

From the archives: Johnny Juzang

Prep Rally: Breaking down the high school basketball playoff pairings (4)

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang in action against Akron during a 2022 NCAA tournament game.

(Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press)

Former Harvard-Westlake and UCLA guard Johnny Juzang is with the Utah Jazz on a two-way contract. He’s averaging 17.8 points for Salt Lake City in the G League.


Here’s a 2021 about Juzang’s background.

Here’s a 2019 story from Juzang’s school newspaper.


From the Washington Post, a story on high school wrestling, where vomiting to lose weight is on its way out.

From, a story on how the NFL’s newest head coach got his start at Carson High.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former Sierra Canyon star Juju Watkins scoring 51 points for USC.

Tweets you might have missed

Garfield vs. San Pedro coming. Two great communities.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 29, 2024

This is proof the son is taller than pops. Or his beanie makes it so. To be continued. . .

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 29, 2024


The All-CIF football teams have been released. Here's the complete teams.

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 29, 2024

The Clippers are trying to have a jersey from every high school basketball team in California. Schools can submit to the team. They will be on display at their new arena. No excuses. PARTICIPATE!

— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 30, 2024

2024 CIF Open Division Wrestling Champions. Congratulations to our very own St. John Bosco Brave Brothers! Dominate performance tonight as they defeat Calvary Chapel 45-22. #DestinationBosco 🏆

— Bosco Football (@boscofootball) February 1, 2024

Video of Joe Sterling’s ‘26 game winning 3 pointer with 1.2 sec left in overtime.

— Crespi Athletics (@CrespiAthletics) February 1, 2024

In this week's episode of 'Friday Night Live,' @latsondheimer + @RandyRosenbloom discuss player of the year candidates in boys’ and girls’ basketball and Eric talks to Angel City FC’s Alyssa Thompson about her meteoric rise.

— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) February 2, 2024

Ooooooooh Myyyyyyy! Fastest California frosh EVER …. AGAIN!!!

— Rich Gonzalez (@PrepCalTrack) February 3, 2024


BREAKING: Ventura High's Sadie Engelhardt wins the New Balance Games Junior Girls International Indoor Mile in a time of 4:34.45! That converts to 4:32.86 for 1600m, which is the fastest ever indoors or outdoors for a California prep! 📸: @dylanstw__

— Rich Gonzalez (@PrepCalTrack) February 4, 2024

Until next time...

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Based on the information provided, it appears that the article is discussing various high school sports playoffs and events in the Southern Section and City Section. The article covers basketball, soccer, girls' water polo, wrestling, baseball, softball, and football playoffs. It also mentions some notable teams, players, and developments in these sports.

Basketball Playoffs

The article mentions the Open Division boys' basketball playoffs in the Southern Section and City Section. It states that there is parity in the Southern Section Open Division, and the seedings won't matter much except for home-court advantage. The City Section is described as having a lack of top talent, but the games are expected to be competitive and memorable. The article also highlights some interesting matchups in the Southern Section Open Division, such as Corona Centennial vs. Harvard-Westlake and Sierra Canyon vs. St. John Bosco [[1]].

Soccer Playoffs

The article mentions the new era of the Southern Section soccer playoffs with the introduction of the Open Division for boys and girls. It states that Santa Margarita is seeded No. 1 in girls' soccer, and Arlington is seeded No. 1 in boys' soccer. The playoffs consist of eight elite teams with separate pools, and the winners will face off in a final match [[2]].

Girls' Water Polo Playoffs

Orange Lutheran is mentioned as the dominant team in girls' water polo in the Southern Section and has received the No. 1 seed for the Open Division playoffs [[3]].

Wrestling Championships

The article briefly mentions the CIF Open Division Wrestling Championships, where St. John Bosco emerged as the champions after defeating Calvary Chapel [[4]].

Baseball and Softball Seasons

The article mentions that the baseball and softball seasons are about to start. It notes that the Mission League held a media day at Harvard-Westlake, where all eight baseball coaches mentioned they would be using electronic devices to communicate with their catchers as part of a new rule allowing one-way devices [[5]].

Changes to Southern Section Playoff Format

The article discusses a culture change coming to the Southern Section playoff competition for the 2024-25 school year. The new format will use current results and computer rankings to seed teams one to 32, potentially leading to league opponents facing each other in the first round. Schools may be left out of the playoffs if they do not report their scores during the season [[6]].

Other Notes

The article includes various other notes, such as transfers in high school football, commitments of high school athletes to colleges, coaching changes, and notable performances in different sports [[7]].

Please note that the information provided above is based on the snippets from the search results and may not cover all the details in the article.

Prep Rally: Breaking down the high school basketball playoff pairings (2024)
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