By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Winter high school sports are rolling into playoffs with some familiar and new faces entering another postseason challenge. Some of the local teams haven’t lost a league game in years while some others won their first in a few seasons, notching the squads a spot in the postseason.
All these teams have put in unprecedented amounts of work into getting to this point and now they all have one more summit in their sights to reach.
Boys Basketball CIF Playoffs
West Ranch vs. Orange Lutheran, Division 1
The West Ranch Wildcats (20-7) storm into the playoffs winning 12 of their last 13 games. This season the team notched its second straight undefeated season in league play en route to another Foothill League championship under head coach Jeff Bryant.
The Wildcats will host a good road team in the Orange Lutheran Lancers (16-11) who have won seven of 11 on the road this season.
The Wildcats’ big three feature junior Andrew Meadow, junior Jaqari Miles and sophomore James Evans, who combine for 53.3 points per game. The Wildcats and Lancers tip off Friday at 7 p.m. at West Ranch High School.
SCCS vs. St. Francis, Division 1
Santa Clarita Christian (16-8) also enters the Division I bracket, starting with a matchup with St. Francis (23-5). The Cardinals will have a tough first matchup but have the opportunity to meet with West Ranch late in the playoffs.
The Wildcats handed the Cardinals one of their worst losses of the year in their regular season finale. The Cardinals and Knights tip off Friday at 7 p.m. at SCCS.
Saugus vs. Hesperia, Division 2AA
The Saugus Centurions (16-9-1) and Hesperia Scorpions (17-10) both roll into the postseason on big win streaks as league runners-up. The Centurions finished a tough regular season schedule with a great record and will look for their first playoff win in five years.
“We are currently on a six-game win streak so we want to keep the momentum going,” said Centurion guard Brandon Perez after the regular season finale. “We’re going to go into practice next week with a positive energy in hopes of making a deep playoff run.”
The Centurions and Scorpions tip off Friday at 7 p.m. at Saugus High School.
Canyon at Victor Valley, Division 3AA
The Canyon Cowboys (17-8, 8-4) will make the trip to Victorville to face the Victor Valley Jackrabbits (14-5, 7-1). Canyon has some impressive wins and close losses this season.
They’ll be a tough out for any opponent and are poised for a playoff run. The Cowboys and Jackrabbits will tip off Friday at 7 p.m. at Victor Valley High School.
Golden Valley at Garden Grove, Division 4AA
The Golden Valley Grizzlies (11-9, 5-7) took a great leap this year, winning their first league game in four seasons and making the playoffs.
They’ll have a staggering task facing the Garden Grove Argonauts (17-8, 9-1) in the first round. The Grizzlies and Argonauts will face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Garden Grove High School.
Trinity Classical Academy at Gabrielino, Division 4AA
The Trinity Classical Academy Knights (23-5, 12-2) will travel to face the Gabrielino Eagles (18-9, 12-0). The Knights have proven themselves this year with some impressive wins but are coming off a blowout loss to the much higher seeded SCCS.
The Eagles have not lost this calendar year but the Knights will be a tough matchup as the team has played an overwhelming majority of the year on the road. The Knights and Eagles tip off Friday at 7 p.m. at Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel.
Girls Basketball CIF Playoffs
Canyon vs. El Dorado, Division 3AA
The Foothill League champion Canyon Cowboys (20-8, 9-1) will host the El Dorado Golden Hawks (13-12, 3-3). Canyon has torn apart the Foothill league and just missed out on a perfect season in league play due to a heartbreaking loss to Hart.
However, the Cowboys have won their last two games by an average of 17 points. The Cowboys and Golden Hawks tip off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Canyon High School.
Hart vs. Norwalk, Division 3AA
The Hart Indians (18-6, 8-2) enter the playoffs as Foothill League runners-up with a win over the eventual champion Cowboys. However, they dropped their last two games of the season.
The Norwalk Lancers (15-10, 4-2) coincidentally won their last two and travel to Santa Clarita with an impressive 9-2 road record this season. The Indians and Lancers are slated to meet Saturday at 5 p.m. at Hart High School.
Saugus at Rolling Hills Prep, Division 2AA
The Saugus Centurions (15-11, 6-4) had a season filled with great win streaks but just couldn’t knock off Hart or Canyon. The Rolling Hills Huskies (13-6, 4-0) will be a great test for the Centurions.
“We feel that we’re in a very good place going into the playoffs,” said Centurions’ head coach Jason Conn after the regular season finale. “We just got to keep the great things we did tonight and fix issues on defense as we head into the playoffs.”
The Centurions will look to improve a 6-5 road record in their biggest game of the season down in San Pedro. Saugus and Rolling Hills Prep will face off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rolling Hills Preparatory.
West Ranch at Santa Paula, Division 4AA
The West Ranch Wildcats (15-13, 3-7) have had quite the up-and-down season. The Santa Paula Cardinals (16-10, 10-0) have also had their fair share of trouble before sweeping the Citrus Coast League.
However, with a true away record of 9-1 against non-league opponents, the Wildcats enter the playoffs against a Cardinal team that has won just six of 16 non-league games. The Wildcats and Cardinals take the floor Saturday at 7 p.m. at Santa Paula High School.
Oakwood vs. Trinity, Division 3A
The defending 5A champions Trinity Classical Academy Knights (15-9, 9-0) are officially on the radar and bumped up into Division 3A play. The Knights capped off their fourth consecutive perfect league record season this year while also beating some good non-league teams.
The Oakwood Owls (12-7, 3-4) had a bumpy end to their season, landing them a matchup with the Knights. The Knights and Owls tip off Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Newhall Church of the Nazarene.