Having held the No. 1 ranking in CIF Southern Section Division VI for much of the season, Pasadena Poly was bestowed the No. 2 seed when the playoff pairings were released on Sunday.
The drop came as no surprise to Panthers Coach Ryan Katsuyama, though.
“I’m actually not surprised that we moved down to No. 2,” said Katsuyama, whose team is coming off a nonleague loss to Division V’s Cerritos, which had previously lost on two occasions to Yorba Linda, which is the top seed in Division VI. “It clearly shows that Yorba Linda is the team to beat.”
Poly (21-2), the Prep League champion, is one of six Pasadena-area squads that made the playoffs, with the Panthers and Rio Hondo League champion South Pasadena earning first-round home games, while La Salle, Mayfield, Pasadena and San Marino earned wild-card matches.
South Pas will open up its Division IV postseason with a first-round matchup on Thursday against either La Habra (third place in the Freeway League) or Capistrano Valley (Sea View League at-large), who face off Tuesday in a wild-card match. Should the Tigers advance, they will face either third-seeded Los Altos or a wild-card winner.
Also in Division IV wild-card action, San Marino makes the long trek south to face Mission Viejo, the Sea View League’s third-place squad. The Titans took third in the Rio Hondo League. The winner will travel to play Pacific View champion Oxnard in Thursday’s first round.
On Thursday in the first round, Poly will host either host Palm Springs (third place in the Desert Valley League) or Rancho Alamitos (third place in the Garden Grove League), who play in Tuesday’s wild-card round. Should the Panthers advance, they would play Culver City or a wild-card squad. Poly was without a starter in its loss to Cypress on Friday, thus Katsuyama believes his team at full strength is plenty capable of realizing its CIF goal.
“I think when we’re at full strength we’re the team to beat,” said Katsuyama, whose team advanced to the Division VI title game last season. “All our training that we’ve done the entire season, all the things we’ve worked on is geared to this point.
“And the ultimate goal is not just to get to the CIF championship, but to win it.”
Elsewhere in Division VI, Prep League third-place finisher Mayfield will host El Segundo, the Ocean League’s No. 3 team, on Tuesday, while La Salle, which took fourth in the Prep League, will travel to face La Quinta, which took second in the Desert Valley League. A Mayfield win would put it against top-seeded Yorba Linda, while a La Salle victory would have it matched up against Carpinteria.
While Division IV and VI begin the first round on Thursday, Pasadena (9-21), which finished fourth in the Pacific League, is hoping to advance to the first round of the Division V playoffs on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will open on the road in wild-card action at Nipomo, the Los Padres League’s third-place finisher. The winner will face host Warren, the No. 3 seed after winning the San Gabriel Valley League, on Wednesday.