SAN JOSE -- There should be no argument about which boys and girls basketball teams are the best in the Central Coast Section this season.
That will be determined on the court over the next couple of weeks.
For the first time in its history, the CCS has introduced a boys and girls basketball Open Division.
The format calls for selection committees of league representatives to place the top eight teams in the Open bracket -- with a few guidelines. No more than four teams can come from one league, and no more than three teams can come from the same enrollment division.
So it won't exactly be the West Catholic Athletic League Invitational. But it is a virtual lock that the section's premier league will send four boys teams to the Open Division and probably will send four girls teams as well.
The brackets will become official at a seeding meeting Sunday when the section unveils matchups for all six of its playoff divisions -- Open, plus divisions one through five.
Piedmont Hills boys coach Pete Simos, who chaired the committee that pushed for an Open Division, said the new format should inject excitement into a tournament that has become too predictable.
Simos, who leads one of the section's top public-school programs, pointed out what has become a familiar stat in the local basketball community -- 24 of 25 CCS boys champions over the past five seasons have been private schools.
Now, by sending top private schools
"If you're in Division II now, yeah St. Francis is still there, but it's not Mitty or Serra," Simos said. "It's a very good St. Francis team, but you also have a very good Leigh team, Willow Glen team, Aragon team, Westmoor team, Leland team. That division is a toss up."
Meanwhile, there are incentives for Open Division-bound public schools such as Piedmont Hills and Palo Alto. One, all eight teams in the Open will automatically qualify for the Northern California playoffs, with most if not all returning to their enrollment division for NorCals rather than moving on to the California Interscholastic Federation's new Open Division.
Two, it's an opportunity to measure up against the best. Three, the CCS has an Open Division consolation bracket, so an opening-round loss doesn't mean a long layoff before NorCals.
"We're probably looked at by a lot as a sacrificial lamb, and Palo Alto will be, too," Simos said. "But I don't feel like that. I see it as an opportunity to try and compete against the best in the section and let's see where the chips will fall. If we go into an Open Division and lose to a Serra or a Sacred Heart, there is nothing to be ashamed of as long as we went out there and played as hard as we can."
El Camino is another public school boys team that will likely land in the Open Division. Its coach, Archie Junio, said he has reservations about the destination.
"When I first heard about it, I thought, great, we'll finally be separated from (WCAL schools)," Junio said. "But now I keep hearing we'll be in the Open, so I guess nothing has changed. But it's something I have no control over. We'll play wherever they tell us."
Eastside College Prep won the CCS Division V girls title last season but will probably battle with the likes of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Archbishop Mitty in the Open this season.
"For us, it would be a great opportunity if we get selected for the Open," Eastside coach Donovan Blythe said. "My girls would like to play at the next level. This would give us a chance to play the best. It would be like a tuneup before we go to NorCals."