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CIF Finals Thursday - The Rundown

Thursday marks the start of the three-day conclusion to the CIF San Diego Section season with the first three of seven title games. Here's what to expect in the games!

Division 4

(1) Southwest San Diego (28-2) vs (2) Mount Miguel (22-8), 7:30 p.m. at Otay Ranch HS

The Rundown: The Raiders come in as one of the hottest teams in San Diego, winning 19 games in a row, but they needed overtime to overtake the four seed, Canyon Hills, on Tuesday. Mount Miguel outdueled a feisty High Tech High Chula Vista team to make it to the finals. Both of these teams have solid guard play -- Southwest's Xavier Gonzalez and Mount Miguel's Mekhi Sidney are two of the region's most unheralded stars -- so the game probably will be decided on the interior in the matchup against 6-4 Raiders sophomore Noah Soltero and Mount Miguel's 6-4 freshman Jasen Hughes Jr.

X-Factor for Southwest: Shaun Verdida - In their most dominant performances, Verdida has been a solid fifth option in the starting five knocking down threes and playing underrated defense.

X-Factor for Mount Miguel: Vincent Jones - The wiry and athletic combo guard is up and down, but his highs this year are dizzying.

Division 5

(1) Calipatria (21-3) vs (2) Del Lago Academy, 5 p.m. at Clairemont HS

The Rundown: This game is a study of contrasts. The Hornets, the only Imperial County representative in the Boys final field, doesn't have a starter over 6-2 and plays a very fast and feisty style, led by senior point guard Noah Spence. The Firebirds, conversely, have one of the biggest teams ever at the D5 level since the advent of competitive equity, boasting 6 rotation players taller than 6-2. The most important player, however, is 5-9 sophomore Jose Galvan, who is rounding into a very good point guard.

X-Factor for Calipatria: The boards. Can the undersized Hornets continue to neutralize team's size by collectively crashing the glass?

X-Factor for Del Lago: Consistent perimeter shooting. When they are dialed in from deep, they're a different team. 6-6 freshman Kyeler Burns exemplifies this. When he's on, it stretches defenses and makes life easier for Suarez and 6-2 slasher Will Dunbar.

Division 5-AA

(1) Tri-City Christian vs (3) San Diego Jewish Academy, 5 p.m. at Canyon Crest Academy

The Rundown: This game was marked on calendars at the start of the year, as the Eagles and Lions were heads and shoulders ahead of the new 5-AA field. Tri-City Christian's roster has been hurt by key injuries to junior guard David Turner and senior guard Josiah Panis, but the sophomore triumvirate of 6-2 Gage Blakemore, 6-2 Jeramiah Turner and 6-3 Dre Cleaves is very good, and 5-9 junior guard Garry Dillard III is a grizzled defender who makes unsung contributions. San Diego Jewish Academy had one of the best returning 2026 players in 6-5 Jack Silberstein, then added a stud in 6-2 Torrey Pines transfer Ethan Abeles. That duo has averaged 36 points per game.

X-Factor for Tri-City: Poise. Can the Eagles keep turnovers to a bare minimum and can the sophomores knock down clutch baskets in what could be their most challenging game in a while.

X-Factor for SDJA: David Feigenbaum. The junior shooting guard is a reliable third scorer and facilitator. He and fellow senior Jacob Rissman must have strong games in their support roles.


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