February 23, 2024

In a season that has seen no team emerge as the City Section title favorite in high school basketball, the playoff seeding committee was forced to make a choice Saturday. Cleveland (17-9) got the nod by being the West Valley League champion in a tiebreaker over Birmingham and received the No. 1 seed for the Open Division.

King/Drew is No. 2 in the Open Division, followed by Birmingham at No. 3, Westchester No. 4, Chatsworth No. 5, Grant No. 6, Palisades No. 7 and Los Angeles CES No. 8. The West Valley and Western leagues had three teams selected. The surprising team left out was Washington Prep (12-15), which upset King/Drew on Friday and has come on strong, going 9-3 since six players joined the team from football and the sit-out transfer period. The Generals are the No. 1 seed in Division I.

If you enjoy parity, the Open Division is it. Seedings really won’t matter. Teams have been beating one another all season and long-time observers said this might being the weakest group ever. But a City champion will be crowned, so the intrigue comes in which team gets hottest at the right time. Games begin on Friday with LACES at Cleveland, Chatsworth at Westchester, Palisades at King/Drew and Grant at Birmingham. The championship game is Feb. 24 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Cleveland became a City title contender with the arrival of Souljah Niles, who played on Taft’s championship team last season, then transferred to Palisades, where he was declared ineligible before ending up at Cleveland and being allowed to play. Freshman TJ Wansa and guard Kamari King also have been major contributors.

Chatsworth (15-13) has arguably the best player in sophomore Alijah Arenas, who is averaging 33.7 points. The Chancellors were supposed to be in Division II but were elevated to the Open Division.

In the Open Division girls’ bracket, Birmingham received the No. 1 seed after winning the West Valley League title for the first time. Westchester is seeded No. 2, with Hamilton No. 3 and King/Drew No. 4.

The opening games next Saturday have No. 8 Crenshaw at Birmingham, No. 5 Palisades at King/Drew, No. 7 El Camino Real at Westchester and No. 6 Granada Hills at Hamilton.

Chatsworth received the No. 1 seeding in Division I.

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