The West Alameda County Conference-Foothill League certainly caught the eye of the North Coast Section boys basketball playoff seeding committee.
The five playoff-eligible teams from the league all earned top-six seeds in their respective divisions, with Bishop O'Dowd High and San Leandro both earning No. 1 seeds when the brackets were revealed Sunday.
San Leandro's top seed in Division I came as a bit of a surprise. The Pirates (21-5) finished second in the WACC-Foothill behind O'Dowd but earned the No. 1 seed over Bay Valley Athletic League champion Deer Valley (21-5) and East Bay Athletic League champ De La Salle (23-3). Only 11 teams qualified for the boys Division I field, so the top five seeds all received byes.
As has become typical of the NCS committees in recent years, head-to-head matchups seemed to play a large role, and San Leandro's mid-December victory over Deer Valley appeared to be the difference maker for the Pirates, who will set their sights on winning their first NCS title.
Berkeley (15-11), another WACC-Foothill team, earned the No. 6 seed in the division.
Division II is where the WACC-Foothill's reputation in its inaugural season also played a big role. Mt. Eden (17-9) picked up the No. 3 seed, and San Lorenzo (15-11) earned the No. 6 seed.
Those two teams both felt snubbed by the NCS last year when they were members of the now defunct-Hayward Area Athletic League. Mt. Eden received only a No. 9 seed despite a 19-7 record, while a 14-12 San Lorenzo team was left out of the playoffs.
The wide-open nature of the girls Division I field also stands out as a story of the day. A division that has seen Berkeley win 13 of the past 16 titles, including three in a row, looks to be up for grabs this season.
The Yellowjackets (16-10) are still in the mix as the No. 5 seed, but Heritage (22-4) earned the top seed for the first time in school history. Monte Vista (21-5), the last team other than Berkeley to win the NCS title, is the No. 3 seed behind EBAL rival Amador Valley (18-8), which swept the season series from the Mustangs.
On the boys side, defending champions earned top seeds in four of the six divisions. That includes Newark Memorial (19-7) in Division II, Bishop O'Dowd (23-3) in Division III, Salesian (26-3) in Division IV and St. Joseph Notre Dame (18-11) in Division V.
Three defending girls champions picked up the top seed in their bids to repeat.
Carondelet (22-3), winner of seven of the past nine Division II titles, earned the top seed again. Defending state champion and four-time defending NCS champion Bishop O'Dowd (23-3) is the top seed and heavy favorite in Division III. Ferndale (18-7) is the top seed as it looks to repeat its title in Division VI, the small-school division that does not advance its teams to the California Interscholastic Federation Northern regional playoffs.
St. Mary's (25-4), which fell in the NCS title game to Salesian last year, is the No. 1 seed in girls Division IV. The Pride (23-6) are No. 2.
Valley Christian-Dublin (26-2), which already has set a school record for victories, is the top seed in the Division V girls field.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.