Well, here we go, it’s playoffs time, and as they say, “all roads lead to Selland Arena,” the home of the CIF Central Section Basketball Championships.
The Lady Warriors will be the No. 4 seed in the Central Section Division II Playoffs while the Warriors will be the ninth-seed in the Division III Playoffs. Don’t get me started on why the same school plays in different CIF Divisions. Making sense of what they do in the Central Section office in Porterville isn’t worth the trouble.
Despite the difference in divisions, I believe the seedings for the Tehachapi teams were more than fair. Other than having to share the South Yosemite League championship following the loss to West last week, the Lady Warriors were not harmed by their season finale struggles. They had the fourth-best record among Division II squads and that’s exactly where they ended up in the bracket. While Tehachapi did have a 16-point victory over third-seeded Garces earlier this season, the Rams were co-champions of the Southwest Yosemite League, splitting the series in league play with top-seeded BHS.
Honestly, I’d much rather be in our position. Despite getting a first-round bye, Garces will have one home game this Thursday against the winner of No. 6 Nipomo and 11th-seeded Mission Oak. Should the Rams win that game they most likely will have to travel to second-seeded Yosemite, which as of this week has won 15 straight games. Plus, there’s that hike to Oakhurst, Calif., as well, no thanks to that semifinal road trip.
The road for the Lady Warriors isn’t “easier” but much more geographically friendly. Tehachapi hosts Santa Maria Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. With a win Tehachapi would then host the winner of the Redwood and Morro Bay match-up on Thursday. Should the Lady Warriors come out victorious, it’s most likely a trip to top-seeded Bakersfield High in the semifinals on Feb. 19. Tehachapi fell to the Drillers 35-27 on Dec. 13 — not exactly a “blowout” by the top-seeded team in the division.
As I had previously noted, being a high seed in the playoffs with home games is all the more valuable now in the Central Section with the addition of the Central Coast schools. Santa Maria will be traveling an estimated four hours for Tuesday’s game, hence the reason for the 4:30 p.m. start so the Saints can get back at a decent hour.
For the boy’s team, Tehachapi missed out on a home game by one seed and will be on the road at Cesar Chavez in the first round. Fair enough, though, as the Titans beat the Warriors in a wild game earlier this season decided in the final seconds. The Warriors can hope to handle business and then maybe Shafter pulls off the 16-seed upset and knocks off top-seeded Mt. Whitney and the Warriors will get a second-round home game. If not, a Tehachapi win on Wednesday means a road trip to Visalia on Friday night for the second round.
Either way, Tehachapi has proven its ability to win on the road this season and has been playing rather sharp of late, winning their last three games including an impressive effort against a talented Ridgeview squad a week ago. There are also not any “byes” in this division with a full 16-team field, so extra rest isn’t an option for any squad.
The goal for both Tehachapi teams will be to reach Selland Arena in Fresno next weekend. While those of us covering these things like to break down match-ups, locations and seeds, it’s really easy for the teams involved. No matter where you play or who you play, you just have to find a way to keep winning.
Someone has to do it; why not us?
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.