Sixteen polo and hoops teams gear up for CIF

February madness is here.

A whopping sixteen local teams were included in the CIF basketball and water polo brackets, released Sunday on the CIF web site. Soccer pairings will be released on Monday.

GIRLS WATER POLO — First Round: Wednesday, 3:15 p.m. (Division VI plays Thursday)

Dos Pueblos is the lone top seed, as expected after an undefeated regular season, and will host either Long Beach Millikan, the third-place team from the Moore League, or Fountain Valley on Wednesday. The Chargers, in search of their third consecutive title, beat Millikan 20-1 two weeks ago at the SoCal Championships in Irvine and has not faced Fountain Valley, and at-large bid from the Sunset League.

Santa Barbara, which finished second in the Channel League behind DP, will host Huntington Beach, the No. 2 team out of the Sea View League, on Wednesday. Should they win, the Dons would face No. 2 Newport Harbor. An encouraging sign is that Santa Barbara was down by just two goals in the final period against the Sailors at the SoCal Championships before falling 8-5.

San Marcos, which finished third in the league for the first time in over 10 years, will play at El Toro, the third-place team from the high-caliber Sea View League.

In Division VI, Carpinteria will host Tuesday’s wild card matchup against La Salle, the No. 4 team out of the Prep League, while Cate will play at Prep League champion Chadwick on Thursday.

BOYS BASKETBALL — First Round: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Channel League champion San Marcos, seeded 13th, will host Mountain View on Wednesday night in the first round of the Division III-A bracket. The Vikings are the third-place team out of the Mission Valley League, finishing the regular season with an 11-11 overall record. The Royals are 19-4 and are coming off of a big win at Ventura last week to claim the league crown.

“Initially I was a little bummed about the 13th seed, but when I look at our corner of the bracket I like it,” said coach Jarrod Bradley. “If I had to pick a place for us to start, I’d say this would be in the top three or four choices.”

He noted that the Mission Valley League isn’t particularly strong, but he’s trying to make sure not to look further ahead then the next round.

In Division II-A competition, 16th-seeded Dos Pueblos will take on Garden Grove league-champion Garden Grove on the road. The Argonauts are on a 9-game win streak heading into the postseason and finished 19-5 on the year. The Chargers just might be a dark horse, considering they are only 13-11 but played without 6-9 center Malik Heptot for nearly the entire season, only getting him back for the final four games of the year.

Despite going just 1-9 in the daunting Tri-Valley League, Carpinteria earned an at-large bid into the Division IV-A bracket and will have to take on Alpha League champion Pacific Hills, seeded third, on Wednesday. The fact that Pacific Hills took down TVL-champion Oaks Christian during the regular season is an indication that star forward Manny Rodriguez and the Warriors have a tall task ahead of them.

Bishop Diego, Cate and Laguna Blanca all earned berths in Division V-A. The Cardinals, an at-large team from the Frontier League, play at fifth-seeded St. Anthony, the Santa Fe League champ. Laguna Blanca, which placed fourth in the Condor League, plays at third-seeded Academy League champion Brethren Christian while third-place Cate plays at Pilobos in Los Angeles.

GIRLS BASKETBALL — First Round: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Santa Barbara High, which had a stellar regular season with a 20-6 record and wins over Buena and Ventura, took the seventh seed in Division III-A and will host an at-large entry, Paso Robles of the PAC 7 League, on Thursday. The Bearcats had a 9-15-1 overall record and a 3-9-1 mark in their league. The Dons have a few common opponents with Paso Robles, going 3-0 against Pioneer Valey, Cabrillo and Morro Bay while the Bearcats went 1-2 against those three.

San Marcos received an at-large bid in Division III-A and will play at Palos Verdes, the No. 5 seed. The Sea Queens were 20-6 and 7-3 in the Bay League, picking up victories over big programs such as Culver City and Marymount.

Carpinteria, the third-place team from the Frontier League, will open up Division IV-A play at home against Fillmore. Back on January 7th, the Flashes defeated the Warriors 53-43 in Carpinteria.

“We’re quite a different team than we were then, and we’re applying a lot more pressure,” said coach Dan Mercer. “If we shut down their perimeter shooters I like our chances.”

Bishop Diego will play a familiar foe in the opening round of the V-A bracket, traveling to Ojai to take on Thacher, the No. 2 team from the Condor League. It wasn’t much of a contest when the two teams met on December 10th, as the Cardinals beat the host Toads 55-16.

Laguna Blanca is fresh off of a win over Thacher which gave the Owls the Condor League title, and has the 11th seed in Division VI-AA. They’ll host Waverly, the No. 4 team out of the International League, in the first round. will provide the most timely coverage of all these teams in their quest for CIF crowns.