APTOS—The Aptos High boys’ basketball team might actually get its chance to play a rubber match against league rival Santa Cruz High in the upcoming Central Coast Section postseason.
The Mariners and Cardinals, co-champions of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, split their regular-season meetings but they could face each other in the Division III semifinals if they win their playoff openers.
The CCS held a seeding meeting Wednesday. Santa Cruz (19-5) was seeded No. 1 and Aptos (20-4) is No. 4. Both teams won’t see action until the quarterfinals slated for Feb. 22.
“It’s always fun, especially for the seniors, to have a couple of more opportunities,” Aptos coach Brian Bowyer said. “The seniors get one more game in front of our fans. I’m happy for them.”
Burlingame (18-5) is the No. 2 seed and Saratoga (16-7) is No. 3.
Burlingame beat Santa Cruz, 43-39, in the 2021 CCS D-III Championship.
Aptos will get to host one game but then they’ll have to play on the road, including another trip to Santa Cruz if they keep winning in the CCS playoffs.
The Mariners lost, 51-38, to the Cardinals in the teams’ second meeting at Santa Cruz on Feb. 2. Bowyer mentioned that a potential rematch on the road is going to be extremely tough.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any easier on us than it was last time we played them,” he said. “Boy, what a fun game that would be. The fans were into it last time… what a great high school atmosphere that would be.”
Friday’s winner between Live Oak (10-12) and No. 12 South San Francisco (11-11) plays at No. 5 Half Moon Bay (15-8) in Saturday’s second round.
Saturday’s winner plays at Aptos in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Bowyer expects it’ll be Half Moon Bay, which will be a tough game for them.
“They have a lot of experience playing in big games,” he said.
Friday’s winner between Gunderson (9-10) and No. 9 El Camino (14-9) plays at No. 8 Monterey (11-13) in Saturday’s second round. Saturday’s winner plays at Santa Cruz in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“I think Santa Cruz is good enough to go to the Open Division, honestly,” Bowyer said. “I’m glad that there’s two [SCCAL teams]. Maybe we’ll get a chance to play each other if we both win our first games.”
Watsonville (17-7, 11-1), co-champion of the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Santa Lucia Division, failed to secure an at-large bid in the Division I bracket.
The Wildcatz lost the automatic qualifying postseason berth to Soledad High (16-7, 11-1), the other co-champion of the Santa Lucia division, on a coin toss that went in the favor of the Aztecs.
St. Francis (7-12), the fourth-place finisher in the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Mission Division, earned the No. 9 seed in the D-V field.
The Sharks will host Anzar (13-1) in the first round Friday at 7pm.
The winner will play at No. 8 Crystal Springs (8-15) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 7pm.
Priory (13-11) earned the top-seed in the D-V bracket, Stevenson (18-6) is No. 2, Oakwood (23-1) is No. 3 and Pinewood (12-11) is No. 4.
St. Francis coach Duncan Edwards said they made it through a rough season but he still thought they’d give it a shot at the postseason.
“I thought maybe we’d be the No. 9 seed and guess what? We are,” he said.
Edwards said he expected to get in the postseason based on their strength of schedule. The Sharks are going up against a Hawks team that won the PCAL’s Arroyo Division.
Edwards said they don’t have much game film on Anzar and it’ll just be one more opponent to face during a challenging season.
“We’re playing teams all year that we don’t know anything about,” he said. “We’re missing a lot of good kids right now, but we’ll give it our best.”
St. Francis will be without the services of guards Nash Horton, Kyle Dyer and Junior Ibarra. Aiden Andrade might also have to miss some playing time.
Edwards said some of the other players have stepped up and they began to learn their roles. Plus, the Sharks are coming off a thrilling 59-57 win in overtime against Monte Vista Christian that has given them some momentum heading into the playoffs.
“I thought we did some very, very good things,” Edwards said. “But we have no idea what we’re up against.”
The Open Division Championship will be played at Kaiser Permanente Arena — home of the NBA G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors — on Feb. 25. Open Division qualifiers include top-seeded Archbishop Mitty (20-4), No. 2. Sacred Heart Prep (21-3), No. 3. Archbishop Riordan (16-8), No. 4. St. Ignatius (18-6), No. 5. Junipero Serra (15-8), No. 6. Saint Francis (15-9), No. 7. Bellarmine (11-12) and No. 8. Valley Christian (8-16).
Friday’s first round
Anzar (13-1) at No. 9 St. Francis (7-12), 7pm
D-III: TBD at No. 4 Aptos (20-4), 7pm