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Orange County Register (California)


If he had known then what he knows now, Orange Lutheran boys basketball coach Chris Nordstrom might have created a less-challenging schedule for his team.

Orange Lutheran will not qualify for the playoffs. The Lancers won't finish third or higher in the Trinity League; teams that finish third or better in a six-team league like the Trinity are guaranteed entry in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs that begin next week. Orange Lutheran has a 2-6 league record with two league games remaining; third-place JSerra is 4-4 in league.

The Lancers also can't qualify for an at-large playoff berth. To be an at-large team, which is a team that did not finish high enough in its standings to get a guaranteed playoff berth, a team must finish with a .500 or better overall record, according to a new rule for this season.

Orange Lutheran is 11-14 and at best would finish 13-14 if it wins two games this week, the final week of the regular season.

Nordstrom said he did not know about the .500-or-better requirement until mid-October.

"I'd already finished building our schedule," Nordstrom said. "So what could I do? I'm on the (CIF-SS) coaches advisory committee and I didn't know."

Last season, teams that finished below .500 overall got into the playoffs as at-large teams. Division 1AA last season had six below-.500 teams that made the playoffs as at-large teams.

CIF-SS spokesman Thom Simmons said at-large criteria changes for the 2016-17 season were in the works for a couple of years and the changes for this season had been sufficiently communicated in advance to CIF-SS member schools.

Nordstrom said he "over-scheduled" a bit this season. The Lancers played 14 games against teams that have been on the CIF-SS Open Division "watch list." He is glad he challenged his team with that schedule.

"If I'd known about having to be .500," Nordstrom said, "I might have made an adjustment somewhere."

This is the final week of the regular season. Most leagues will play Tuesday-Thursday schedules this week, with some going Monday-Wednesday, to keep Friday open for an extra game that would be needed to break ties.

The CIF-SS Open Division watch list, the candidates for the elite playoff division, was reduced from 25 teams last week to 20 this week.

The O.C. team cut from the list was Saddleback Valley Christian. O.C. teams still on the list are Edison, Esperanza, JSerra, Mater Dei and Santa Margarita.

The CIF-SS Open Division bracket will be released Friday at or around 3 p.m. As many as 16 teams could be in the Open Division, but 16 teams are not required and all teams selected to the Open Division must compete in the Open Division.

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February 8, 2017


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