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Jan 30

Playoff picture starting to become clear for local girls/boys basketball teams

Several local teams are winding down their seasons in boys and girls basketball.

And the CIF-Southern Section playoff picture is starting to come into focus, though some teams will determine their fates in games over the next two weeks. Four local teams in boys basketball appear primed to qualify.

Atascadero High is in second place and Arroyo Grande High is in fourth in the PAC 7. The top four squads in high school leagues that have seven teams go to playoffs.

Arroyo Grande has a record of 4-4 in league and the two teams tied for fifth (SLO High and Paso Robles) are 2-6.

In the Los Padres League, which also has seven teams, Templeton High is in third place at 5-3, ahead of Lompoc at 4-4. Morro Bay is knocking on the door in fifth at 3-5 and could get in with a strong finish and some luck with other teams dropping down. The Pirates have three games left.

Mission Prep is a freelance team that has been performing extraordinarily well this season, particularly after temporarily losing Connor Woolpert, their 6-5 center, at mid-season with a shoulder injury.

The Royals are 16-7 and they’ve beaten Righetti High and St. Joseph — two top teams in the county. Righetti is undefeated in league at 8-0 and St. Joseph is 5-2 (placing them first and third in league respectively).

Woolpert has returned to the lineup but missed a string of games, including the matchup against Righetti, which Mission Prep won, fueled by a strong game from guard Andy Rowley.

Mission Prep would need to win 80 percent of their games to automatically qualify for the postseason. The Royals have three games left and so that’s impossible to achieve the 80 percent mark. But they still can be considered for an at-large berth.

The Royals are currently ranked fifth in Division 5AA and they’ve played a tough schedule, beating two of the best teams in the county in Righetti and St. Joseph. And they lost by 15 points to Bishop Montgomery in the Mission Prep Classic tournament, currently the second ranked team in the state.

The girls’ teams in the playoff hunt include three teams from the Los Padres League. Morro Bay is 9-0, Templeton is 7-1, and Nipomo is 5-3, making those teams the first, second and third place teams in the league.

Morro Bay is a powerhouse that could make a deep playoff run this year, the final season for Cal Poly bound senior Hannah Gilbert, who’s 6-3 and extremely skilled in her low post game. Gilbert’s coach, Cary Nerelli, thinks she can make a strong contribution right away as a freshman at Cal Poly.

In the PAC 7, San Luis Obispo is playing well in third at 5-3 led by standouts Jessica Judge and Erica Chandler. The Tigers are the sixth ranked team in Division 3A, the highest ranked girls’ team from the county in the CIF polls.

Atascadero is in fourth at 3-4 and Paso Robles is fifth at 3-5.

The next stretch of games will decide the fate of some teams and serve as a playoff warmup for others (Morro Bay and Templeton girls).

The Pirates and Eagles should have a playoff environment of sorts when they face off at Morro Bay at the Pirates’ gym on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in a rematch. Morro Bay handily won their first matchup against Templeton.

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