Central Section boys and girls basketball teams seeded Sunday for the Southern California Regionals were often flattered, but not without a caveat.
Take Bullard High's boys.
As expected, they were invited to the state's inaugural Open Division -- a concept geared in the North and South to draw most of the state's top teams, regardless of the division they represented in their respective sections.
(Click here for complete basketball seedings)
The Knights (27-2), three-time reigning section Division I champions, drew a No. 4 seed in the seven-team SoCal bracket and a home game Friday at 7 p.m. against 12-time Los Angeles City Section king Westchester-Los Angeles (28-6).
Flattering, but the catch: Should Bullard win, it will then travel March 12 to play top-seeded Etiwanda (27-3) -- ranked No. 2 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and coming off wins over who had been the state's Nos. 1- and 2-ranked teams in Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei-Santa Ana.
"Who's ready for another magical ride through the state playoffs?" tweeted Knights star guard Corey Silverstrom. "Cause I know I AM."
Had the SoCal Regional seeding committee kept Bullard in D-I -- as opposed to the complicated, contentious Open Division that involved criteria to qualify -- the Knights would likely have been top-seeded in a 16-team division, affording three home games had they continued to win.
Last year, in an unprecedented run for the school, they won two regional home games -- the first against Westchester -- before losing 85-66 to Mater Dei in the SoCal D-I championship at Ontario.
Bullard coach Tony Amundsen, referring to the prospects of playing in D-I as a No. 1 seed this season, said: "That would have been neat to play all those tough teams in our gym. But it is what it is and we'll go compete. If they didn't have an Open Division, and we kept winning, we'd have to play those type of teams anyway."
If confidence is gleaned from previous success, the Knights can also draw from this: In early December, they won 60-54 on a neutral court against Salesian-Richmond, now top-ranked in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.
Take Clovis West's girls.
A day after routing Stockdale 53-38 at Selland Arena for the section D-I title, they were seeded No. 3 in the 15-team SoCal Regional bracket in that division.
Flattering, but the catch: They will open at home Wednesday, probably at 5 p.m., in the opener of a girls/boys doubleheader against Millikan-Long Beach (26-4) -- one of the state's top teams that oddly drew the No. 14 seed in the regional.
"I'm very pleased with our seed; I'm very perplexed with the overall seeding," Golden Eagles coach Craig Campbell said. "Millikan is not a 14 seed. We probably drew the second-best team in the whole division."
Consider: Millikan in late November romped 64-47 against D-I second-seeded Canyon Springs-Moreno Valley. And Canyon Springs, three weeks later, would throttle Clovis West 71-54.
In all, 25 section teams -- 14 boys and 11 girls -- were invited to the state dance.
Some other notable placements:
-- Clovis West's boys (22-6), following a 66-53 loss to Bullard on Saturday night at Selland for the section D-I title, landed a surprising No. 2 seed in that division.
The Golden Eagles will play No. 15 Rancho Verde-Moreno Valley (23-6), but they'll likely do so without one of their few players with height, 6-4 junior forward Weston Hatten, who left for good in the second quarter against Bullard with a sprained ankle.
-- Stockdale's girls were stuck in the SoCal Open Division and with a first-round assignment against perennial national power Mater Dei for apparently no reason than to help fill out the bracket. Clovis West, who beat Stockdale in the section final, did not meet the criteria to land in the Open Division.