The Southern California basketball regionals open today sans a frequent girls participant that belonged again -- Hanford.
Bullpups Athletic Director Beau Hill knows this.
Coach Tom Parrish knows this.
And so does Central Section Commissioner Jim Crichlow: "Absolutely. And, who knows? Probably as a five, six or seven seed."
That would have meant a home game tonight in the 15-team, Division I tournament for Hanford, a state-ranked team a week ago that had made the state playoffs seven consecutive years.
Instead, it's over for the 23-5 Bullpups and senior Bayli McClard -- one of the most accomplished players in section history -- because of a messy web of emotion, confusion and misunderstanding.
It begins with Parrish, and he knows it.
Angered to begin with entering a section D-I semifinal at Clovis West a week ago after being seeded No. 3 -- when he and most others around the section anticipated a No. 1 for his team -- he snapped following a 57-39 loss to the Golden Eagles.
Parrish told reporters he wouldn't go to the regionals, even if invited.'
"I'm pissed off," he says this week, "I've got cameras stuck in my face and I say, 'I'm not going.' "
While Parrish says he cooled off in a couple of days and told Hill he would coach the team -- only after the athletic director says he was prepared to coach the team himself -- Parrish's initial response ultimately had Crichlow enter Sunday's regional seedings with the impression Hanford's gear had been turned in.
Hill called Crichlow on Monday morning, asking if the Bullpups could be added -- even as a No. 16 seed. Crichlow says he then called state officials, who told him it was too late.
This means McClard's next game will be at Gonzaga. The 6-foot-1 forward, who played on three section championship teams, exits with 1,795 career points -- fourth in school history, section historian Bob Barnett says.
What remains to be seen: What it means for Parrish?
He also said after the Clovis West loss he'll "probably not" return next season, which would close an eight-year career with a 197-47 record (.807 winning percentage) and five section titles in three divisions. He also said then he would decide "in a month or two."
But it may not take that long, given his mood this week: "I've spent my whole career fighting the process, getting moved up (a division), getting moved up.
"I'm not dealing with it anymore."
Knights bracing for improved Westchester
Bullard's boys (27-2) open the regionals for the second straight year with a home game against Westchester-Los Angeles (28-6).
But not to compare the 12-time Los Angeles City Section championship team with the one the Knights handled 68-53 last year in D-I, Knights coach Tony Amundsen says.
"They're much, much better," he says before Friday's 7 p.m. Open Division game.
In Cal-Hi Sports state rankings, Bullard is No. 6 and Westchester No. 12. The Comets returned one of the state's top unsigned players in left-handed senior guard Matthew Grant (14.2-point average), the leading scorer among a deep cast.
"Size-wise," Amundsen says, "we match up OK. But they're just better all-around, very athletic, strong and obviously well-coached."
Crichlow defends Exeter ruling on suspension
The fact Exeter partially won an appeal that allowed point guard Brandon Briones to play the second half of a comeback 46-43 win over Coalinga on Saturday for the section D-IV title was not received well at Sierra.
Briones was ejected three days earlier in the final minute of a homecourt 52-40 semifinal win over Sierra for "throwing an elbow," he says. But pictures clearly show Briones firing a fist at the face of the Chieftains' Casey Blunt.