It's been a long time since Fountain Valley has entered the CIF Southern Section boys' basketball playoffs as the first-place team from the Sunset League. Eighteen years, to be exact.
Friday on their home floor, the Barons will wear that banner for the first time since 1995, and will play host to a talented Inglewood team in the opening round of the Division 1-AA playoffs.
Fountain Valley is one of three Sunset League teams to open postseason play at 7 p.m. Friday.
In other first-round games, Edison plays at home against Walnut and Huntington Beach travels to Pico Rivera to take on El Rancho.
Two other local teams, Ocean View and Brethren Christian, began postseason play Wednesday. Scores from those games weren't available at press time.
As a league champion, Fountain Valley drew a tough first-round assignment in an extremely tough Division 1-AA field. The Barons, 20-6 overall, will be taking on an Inglewood squad that finished runner-up to the Ocean League title.
The Sentinels, the No. 12 seed in the division, joined Division 1-AA a year after they won the Division 2-AA championship. The Barons are not seeded but are ranked No. 18.
Inglewood features a starting lineup that goes 6-foot-10, 6-7, 6-7 and 6-5. Shooting guard Brandon Randolph is signed with Xavier, and senior center Nicholas Smiley took Division 2-AA Player of the Year honors last year.
"This may be the toughest first-round opponent that any of my teams have ever played," Fountain Valley Coach Roger Holmes said. "They return several starters from their CIF championship team from a year ago including Randolph. They have size and athleticism and have been a top team all year."
Fountain Valley went 8-2 to win the Sunset League title and capped the regular season Feb. 7 with a 61-51, senior-night victory over Marina. Senior guard Josh Armstrong led the way with 24 points and had six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Junior forward Joey Petersen scored 11 points with 10 rebounds, and senior center Jackson Gatlin had eight points and nine rebounds.
"We have not shot the ball well since halfway through the year, yet our guys have found a way to win the Sunset League championship," Holmes said. "We rebound well, are terrific in the open court and find each other pretty consistently. We have a monumental task in front of us [Friday]."
Edison: The Chargers (16-11) took the No. 13 seed in the Division 1-A playoffs and start postseason play hosting Walnut. The Mustangs are the No. 4 team from the Hacienda League.
Edison finished tied for second place with Los Alamitos in the Sunset League. In their final league game, the Chargers were upended, 67-56, by visiting Huntington Beach. Sophomore guard Brae Ivey scored 15 points, sophomore forward AJ Garrity scored 14 points, and senior guard Brodie Barton had 10 points on senior night.
The Chargers finished league play 6-4.
"Many people believe we overachieved but to us, we feel we are only getting better as the season goes along," Edison Coach Rich Boyce said. "We feel confident heading into the playoffs."
Huntington Beach: The Oilers received an at-large bid to the Division 1-A playoffs, but carry the division's No. 14 seed into their first-round match-up against El Rancho of Pico Rivera. The Dons are co-champions of the Del Rio League, but are not seeded.
Huntington, 16-10 overall, ended its Sunset League schedule on Feb. 7 and won, 67-56, on the road at Edison. Senior guard Andrew TenBrink led all scorers with 25 points and added nine rebounds. Junior guard Ryan Morrissey knocked down three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
TenBrink is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game. Senior forward Harley Ruder, who scored eight points against Edison, is averaging a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds.