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Basketball: Classic at Damien will give Open Division litmus test; sit-out transfers now eligible

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The Daily News saw three local boys basketball teams earn a berth to the CIF Southern Section Open Division last year. Harvard-Westlake, Sierra Canyon and Notre Dame Sherman Oaks. This year, it could be four with the rise of West Ranch, which just made a huge statement by winning the Tarkanian Classic last week in Las Vegas, including a semifinal win over Santa Ana Mater Dei and finals win over Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman.

Boise State commit Andrew Meadow led West Ranch with 18 points and seven rebounds in the title game en route to a tournament MVP performance. The tournament victory alone makes West Ranch (12-0) a likely shoe-in for the Open Division, considering its league (Foothill) is unlikely to gash its record with a loss. The Wildcats are currently on a 27-game league winning streak.

Here is the official 2022 @TarkClassic Platinum Division All-Tournament Team: #HSBB #Grassroots pic.twitter.com/O3c8bc6L0X

— Ronnie Flores (@RonMFlores) December 23, 2022

However, to coach Jeff Bryant’s credit, he’s put together a schedule that will prepare West Ranch for Open Division-level play. No tournament does that better than the Classic at Damien in La Verne, hosted by Damien High, Dec. 26-30.

West Ranch, Notre Dame (8-3) and Harvard-Westlake (13-0) will all compete in the tournament’s toughest 16-team bracket, the Platinum Division, which starts Tuesday and includes Open Division quality teams like Etiwanda (9-1), Playa Del Rey St. Bernard (11-2), Temecula Rancho Christian (5-6) and City Section Open Division-bound Narbonne (8-2) – along with teams from out of state.

Sierra Canyon (10-2) is competing in Portland, Ore. at the Les Schwab Invitational (Dec. 26-30).

West Ranch will play its opening round game against Dublin High at 11:30 a.m. Harvard-Westlake will face Narbonne at 4 p.m. and Notre Dame will take on Richmond Salesian at 5:30 p.m.

The Classic is a showcase event that has seven divisions, 112-teams and draws high-major NCAA Division I coaches that eye the talent on display every year. Most importantly, the CIF-SS Open Division committee has a watchful eye on the results of this tournament that could help determine which eight teams they pick for the playoff field.

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VOTE: Southern California Girls Athlete of the Week, December 23

Heritage Christian (7-2) and Birmingham Charter (6-2) are competing in the Gold Division, which also starts Tuesday. Heritage Christian plays at 2 p.m. against Auburn High of Washington and Birmingham faces Eastvale Roosevelt at 9:30 p.m.

IMPACT TRANSFERS NOW ELIGIBLE

The Southern Section’s sit-out period will allow student-athletes that transferred schools to play starting Tuesday. Here are the most notable names that will make immediate impacts on their respective teams.

(Name, school, year, position, previous school)

Trent MacLean, Thousand Oaks, So., forward, Westlake

Luke Koren, Thousand Oaks, forward, Westlake

Osiris Nalls Jr., Sierra Canyon, Sr., guard, Viewpoint

Aeneas Grullon, Viewpoint, So., guard, Heritage Christian

Mazi Mosley, St. Francis, So., guard, Heritage Christian

Marques Graham, Birmingham Charter, Sr., guard, Sun Valley Poly

Ashton Carraway, Birmingham Charter, Jr., guard, Valencia

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