OAKLAND -- The Bishop O'Dowd High girls basketball team is still holding out hope that it will have the chance to defend its Open Division state championship, but the Dragons' prospects don't look promising.

O'Dowd was disqualified from the North Coast Section playoffs after it was discovered that the Dragons had played 27 games, one more than the section allows. In a statement, the school said that it "failed to designate one of our contacts as a scrimmage."

O'Dowd athletic director Mike Bowler met with North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon on Monday to determine if the Dragons might still be eligible for the Northern California Open Division regional playoffs. Bowler will contact Lemmon for an update on Tuesday, according to Carlos Arriaga, O'Dowd's associate athletic director.

A possible loophole in the CIF Open Division criteria may be the Dragons' last hope. There are four ways to qualify for the Open Division and only three mention the section playoffs. The final criterion, and one that O'Dowd satisfies, states, "A school was ranked in the Top Ten of Cal Hi Basketball, Cal Preps and/or MaxPreps Rankings (early March) the past two years (current year and previous year)."

But on Monday morning, a spokesperson for the California Interscholastic Federation, which runs the regional and state championships, said a team must participate in its section playoffs in order to advance to the regional playoffs.


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"If a team can't qualify for its section tournament, it can't qualify for the state tournament because (the state tournament) is an extension of the section tournament," the CIF spokesperson said.

If O'Dowd is denied a spot in the regional playoffs, it's likely that the NCS will send Salesian, St. Mary's, Carondelet and Miramonte to the Open Division.

Before O'Dowd's disqualification, Miramonte appeared headed to the Division III state tournament unless it was able to beat O'Dowd in the NCS Division III finals. Each section can send a maximum of four teams to the Open Division.