Boys’ basketball to face De La Salle in state tournament first round matchup

Benner Mullin, Author

After review of all 182 eligible California high school basketball teams, the California Interscholastic Federation selected its seven state championship brackets.

The 8th seeded Palo Alto boys’ basketball team (23-3, 12-0) will face the 9th seeded De La Salle Spartans (21-8, 11-2) in the first round of the 2018 Division I CIF State Boys Basketball Championship 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Peery Family Center.

Last year, Paly received the 9th seed in the Division I tournament, and then upset three lower ranked teams en route to a regional final loss to James Logan High School, 65-61. This year, the tournament is a little different, with a new format for CIF State Boys Basketball Championships being introduced.

In the past, eligible teams were seeded into their respective divisions based upon the enrollment at their schools, with the largest schools in Division I and the smallest schools in Division V, while the top eight teams from both Northern and Southern California competed in the Open Division Tournament. For 2018, the tournament has been reorganized. Now, each bracket is made up of the best available teams, regardless of school enrollment, while maintaining the top Open Division bracket. Paly, as the 8th seed in Division I, is viewed to be the 16th best team in Northern California, behind the eight teams qualifying for the Open Division bracket and the seven teams seeded above the Vikings in Division I.

According to senior guard Will Schmutz, Paly will stick to its usual gameplan.

“Our mentality going into the playoffs is survive and advance,” Schmutz said. “We know De La Salle is a great team and we have to play our best to beat them. They have some very good players but we just need to execute on offense and play good defense and we feel confident we can beat anybody.”

Both teams will be hungry for a win and look to extend their seasons. The Vikings, coming off a CCS Open Division semifinal loss to Archbishop Mitty High School, 73-61, and De La Salle, from the North Coast Section, which fell in the second round of the NCS Division I Playoffs to Berkeley High School, 54-51.