Imperial Valley Press : 2019-02-11

SPORTS : 9 : B1


Imperial Valley Press Monday, February 11, 2019 B1 n n Sports ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Make your nomination by calling (760) 3373434 or by email at [email protected] by noon Mondays. Make sure to leave the athletes’ contact information and his or her accomplishment. QUESTIONS? Contact Sports Editor Aaron Bodus at [email protected] or (760) 337-3434. CIF playoff formula pits Holtville girls against giants currently in Division III, and is the smallest school in any of the top three divisions. Oddly enough, when CIF began assigning divisions based on competitiveness versus enrollment in the 2013-14 school year, the Holtville girls had won fewer than 20 games (17101) over the previous seven seasons and yet they entered the 2013-14 season in Division IV. They continued to struggle, however, and found themselves in Division V the following year with a new coach. That season they were 11-12 and the fourth playoff seed, losing in the semifinals, which bumped them back up to Division IV. In Division IV in 2015-16, the Vikings posted a 17-11 record, were the fourth seed and advanced to the playoffs’ semifinals, losing to eventual champion Grossmont, prompting another promotion. Interestingly for this series, Holtville’s power ranking jumped from minus-5.4 to minus-1.6 because of “good losses,” including two to CIFSan Diego Section Division II champion Imperial along with losses to Division II Brawley, Calexico and Central, and Division III Southwest. Strength of schedule obviously aided the Holtville’s power ranking, but ominously, the small school (500-plus students) fell to a Grossmont program that could draw from more than 2,200 students. Clearly there is no adjustment to the CIF-SDS power rankings and divisions for enrollment other than in football. Competing in Division III in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Holtville’s girls compiled 1114 (minus-8.7 PR) and 14-11 (minus-5.5 PR) records, respectively, riding the wave of winning when they should and earning “good losses” to now-Division I Imperial and other higher-division teams. Note, however, that in those two seasons, the Vikings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, losing to private schools Francis Parker, 59-31, and Christian, 43-22, begging the question are the “good losses” truly an accurate measuring stick for competitiveness? This season Holtville finds itself in a division that averages three times the Viking student population. Despite the obvious upgrade in coaching since 2014-15, that raises the question of how much more competitive could Holtville be if it had an additional 1,000 or more students from which to find players. This week Holtville opens BY TOM RONCO the Division III playoffs as the fourth seed, having amassed a 21-5 record, with four “good” losses. They have also achieved their first-ever recorded positive power ranking, at 6.4. Tuesday night the Vikes host 13th-seeded Mar Vista (1,650) in an opening round game. A victory would give Holtville home court advantage for a quarterfinal game on Friday, probably against fifth-seeded Chula Vista (2,200) and from there a potential semifinal meeting in Oceanside with top-seeded Mission Vista (1,700). Next week we shall see how “the numbers” are working out for the Holtville girls, and we will answer a question that has arisen in today’s column: What is Imperial’s girls basketball team doing in Division I? Special to This Newspaper Editor’s note: This column is part of a continuing series examining how the current CIF playoff seeding system came to be and how that formula is applied to athletic programs in Imperial Valley. This week we branch out from the San Diego CIF football power-rankings and divisional alignment and delve into winter sports with a look at the Holtville girls basketball team. While trying to make a case that Holtville’s football team belongs in Division V based at least partially on student population, a check of other sports showed the Vikings uniformly stationed higher than Division V. The girls basketball team is Phil Mickelson on brink of 5th Pebble Beach victory PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson put himself on the brink of a fifth victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am by turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot lead when a wild day of weather kept him from finishing Sunday. Mickelson was bogey-free with six birdies, and he made his big run starting with a 9-iron to a foot behind the cup on the par-4 ninth. That was start of a five-hole stretch when Mickelson made three birdies and Paul Casey had two bogeys. About the only thing that didn’t go Mickelson’s way was the timing. The final round started an hour late because of rain, and then it was delayed two more hours when sunshine gave way to a hail storm in a matter of minutes, covering the putting greens in a sheet of white. Mickelson was at 18-under par through 16 holes. Casey had a 3-foot par putt on the same hole when Mickelson tried to lobby for them to finish, even in the dark. Casey was at 15 under, tied with Scott Stallings, who closed with a 66. Along with an outside chance at forcing a playoff, finishing alone in second instead of a tie is a difference of $152,000, along with world ranking points and FedEx Cup points. Casey and FedEx executive Don Colleran had a oneshot lead in the pro-am. Mickelson was standing on the 17th tee when he heard the horn sound to stop play, and he shook his head. The rest of his day was far better than the weather. Mickelson is on the verge of winning for the 44th time in his career, and matching Mark O’Meara with five victories at a tournament he first played in 1995. LOCAL ACTION TODAY Boys’ Basketball Calipatria at Vincent Playoffs Girls’ Francis Parker at Basketball Playoffs Vincent Memorial vs. Memorial 7 p.m. Calexico vs. Calexico 7 p.m.

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