Southern California First round previews

(20) Canyons (14-13) @ (13) Santiago Canyon (19-9)

Canyons (14-13) will travel to Orange on Wednesday night as the two teams will battle in first round action. The Cougars picked up the 20th seed after finishing 2nd place in the Western State South Conference. Meanwhile, Santiago Canyon is the 13th seed (11) after finishing in a tie for fifth place in the Orange Empire Conference. It will be the second meeting between the two teams as Santiago Canyon picked up a 73-65 win over Canyons on December 1st at the Mt. San Jacinto Tournament.

Santiago Canyon: The first year program has exceeded expectations and had a solid regular season finishing with 19 wins and a solid finish in the Orange Empire Conference. The Hawks have two big time scorers in sophomore Rodney Henderson and freshman guard Antoine Jenkins as both players are averaging over 26 a game this season. Henderson has been spectacular this season as the sophomore transfer from who transferred from Fullerton College is averaging 26.6 points and 9.4 rebounds this season. Jenkins has played well for the Hawks as the guard is averaging 26.1 points and 4.5 assists as they could be the best one two punch in the state. A.J. Garrity has been solid for the Hawks this season as the freshman is averaging 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Hawks. Santiago Canyon is fourth in the state as the Hawks are averaging 89.3 points per game and the team from Orange is also in the top 10 in six other offensive categories including the best in the state in free throws made and taken per game and they are 6th in the state in three pointers made per game.

Strengths: Three point shooting, getting to line, more than one go to guy, offensive fire power.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, give up a lot of points, no rim protector, fouls.

Canyons: The Cougars used a late regular season run to get into the post season and came within a game of winning the Western State South Conference championship. It has been an up and down inconsistent season for Canyons but this should be a solid matchup in first round action. The Cougars are led by sophomore guard Michael Kalu, the “6-2” guard has had a solid second season averaging a team high of 17.3 points and 4.4 rebounds. Kalu scored in double digits in 26 of his 27 games this season and the sophomore had 20 points when the two teams met on December 1st. Sophomore Jacob Lilley had a standout season for the Cougars this season as the sophomore point guard has shown he can run this team and be effective as a scorer as well. Frankie Campbell (9.4 points and 6.8 rebounds), Anthony Simone (9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds) and Jude Agbasi (8.1 points) have contributed throughout the season for the Cougars. Canyons has shot the three ball fairly well this season as the Cougars are 19th in the state shooting 37% from downtown this season. Canyons will look to get up plenty of second chance points as Canyons averages 12.1 offensive rebounds per game.

Strengths: Three Point shooting, offensive rebounds, perimeter play, Rebounding

Weaknesses: Turnovers, lack of creating turnovers, foul trouble, free throws.

(19) West Los Angeles (18-10) @ (14) San Diego Miramar (19-9)

19th seeded will travel to San Diego and face 14th seeded Miramar on Wednesday evening in first round action. It will be the first time meeting this season between the two teams. West Los Angeles got into the post season after picking up the Western State South Championship. San Diego Miramar had a standout season but the Jets come into the post season losing two of their last three games.

San Diego Miramar: The Jets come into losing two of thier last three games but Miramar had a solid season. Miramar has a balanced attack at the offensive end as five players average in double figures for the Jets. Deion Alston leads the Jets in scoring as the “6-4” sophomore averages 12.8 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. “5-6” Chris Jones is second in the team in scoring as the sophomore is averaging 12.1 points and 3.6 assists per contest. Takoda Browne (11.7 points), Dallas Haupt (11.0 points), Blake Seits (10.5 points) and Caleb Giordano (8.7 points) are capable of putting points on the board for the Jets. Miramar is a high scoring team as the Jets put up 86.1 points per game and are 17th in the state in three point makes per game.

Strengths: Multiple guys can score the ball, scoring, three point shooting, pace, create turnovers, opponent three point shooting.

Weaknesses: Rebounding, fouls, standout go to guy.

West Los Angeles: The Wildcats come into the game as the underdogs seedwise as the Western State South Conference champions were seeded 19th. West Los Angeles come into the game on a four game winning streak and the Wildcats have scored over 80 points in all four outings. In three of their last four games, the Wildcats have made at least 15 three pointers as well. Trevor Blackmon leads the Wildcats in scoring as the sophomore is averaging 16.3 points and 4.1 rebounds this season. Corey Jackson (13.1 points) and Traonte Jones (11.7 points and 4.0 assists) have both had solid seasons for the Wildcats. West Los Angeles averages 78.6 points per game but the Wildcats give up 77.0 per game this season.

Strengths: 3 point shooting, Getting to the line, offensive rebounding, rim protection, creating turnovers.

Weaknesses: Free throw shooting, rebounding, fouling.

(18) Antelope Valley (16-14) @ (15) Cuesta (16-15)

18th seeded Antelope Valley will look to pick up a road victory on Wednesday evening as the Marauders travel to San Luis Obispo and face 15th seeded Cuesta. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season as both teams failed to find consistency throughout this season. Cuesta will look to take advantage of the home court in first round action.

Cuesta: The Cougars come into the contest winning their last three games and four of their last five. Cuesta finished in 3rd place in the Western State North Conference and the Cougars are led by sophomore wing Noah Saunders who is averaging 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds. Saunders has had a standout season for the Cougars and was a standout player all season long as the sophomore scored a season high of 29 points against Merritt on December 30th. Josh Wilson-Murry is another player to watch for Cuesta as the freshman averaged 11.0 points per contest this season.  Finn Whetstone (9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds), Nico Gonzalez (8.7 points), and Jorge Bueno (7.2 points) will look to contribute for the Cougars in first round action. The Cougars are 12th in the state in three pointers made per game and are 14th in the state in three point field goals attempted.

Strengths: Three point shooting, take care of the ball,

Weaknesses: getting to the line, free throws, forcing turnovers, opponents three point shooting.

Antelope Valley: The Marauders come into this matchup on a two game losing streak. Antelope Valley started last week in a tie in first place in the Western State East Conference but two straight losses hurt them in seeding. Antelope Valley has three players that are averaging in double figures led by sophomore guard D’Mauria Jones. The sophomore leads the Marauders in scoring as the guard is posting 19.6 points per game this season. Jones had a season high of 39 points earlier this season against El Camino. Osi Nwachukwu (15.0 points and 7.2 rebounds) is the ex factor for the Marauders. The sophomore is a very underrated player and has played well all season long for Antelope Valley. Greg Floyd (11.8 points) and Julian Payton (9.8 points) will look to contribute for the Marauders. The Marauders score 77.7 points but the bulk of the scoring is done by four players.

Strengths: offensive rebounding, wing play, starters.

Weaknesses: Depth, three point shooting, fouling, giving up the three ball.

(17) Palomar (16-13) @ (16) Long Beach (18-11)

17th seeded Palomar will travel to 16th seeded Long Beach in the last first round matchup in Southern California. It will be the second time the two teams have met as Long Beach picked up a 81-79 overtime win on January 5th at the Chaffey Tournament. Jeremiah Sadler had 25 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds in the meeting.

Long Beach: The Vikings come into the matchup on a four game winning streak and picked up a huge victory over Cerritos in the season finale to cement their playoff spot. Long Beach finished in 2nd place in the South Coast South Conference. Long Beach has four players that are averaging in double figures as Jeremiah Sadler leads the Vikings in scoring as the freshman is averaging 15.0 points per contest. William English (14.6 points and 5.2 rebounds), Jamiu Akinbile (10.6 points) and Matthew Wooten (10.4 points) are other players that will look to contribute on Wednesday night for the Vikings. Long Beach averages 79.4 points per contest and the Vikings are a very solid rebounding team.

Strengths: getting to the line, offensive rebounding, high field goal percentage, take care of the ball, guarding the three point line.

Weaknesses: fouling, defensive rebounding, free throws, outside shooting.

Palomar: The Comets come into the post season on a three game winning streak and finishing in a three way tie for 2nd place in the Pacific Coast North Conference. Palomar has three key players that are all averaging in double figures led by sophomore shooting guard Jackson Strong. The sharp shooter is averaging 18.6 points and 4.7 rebounds and the sophomore has set a school record for most three pointers made in his career. Lavale Coleman has played solid since coming back from a mid season injury and the sophomore is veraging 14.9 points per contest. Front court player Matt Meyers is another stand out as the big man is averaging 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds this season. Palomar averages 75.4 points and the Comets come into the matchup with a solid chance to pick up the road victory.

Strengths: field goal percentage, getting to the line and converting, defensive rebounding, opponents field goal percentage, wing play.

Weaknesses: offensive rebounding, taking care of the ball, causing turnovers, rim protection.