The Watsonville, St. Francis and Pajaro Valley boys’ basketball teams will be fighting for the same league title next winter.
The three local teams were placed in the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Cypress division along with Gilroy, North Salinas and Soledad, the 33-school “equity” league recently announced.
Watsonville, the runner-up in the Santa Lucia division, moved up a tier, and St. Francis, which tied for third in the Mission division, was bumped down. Pajaro Valley, meanwhile, stayed put despite finishing second in the Cypress and returning the division’s Most Valuable Player, point forward Christian Quintero.
Those moves weren’t the only adjustments announced by the league.
Here’s a look at the changes coming to winter sports in the PCAL next season:
Monte Vista Christian failed to win a game in the Gabilan division last season, so it was no surprise when the Mustangs swapped spots with Mission division champion Pacific Grove.
Alvarez, the runner-up in the Mission, was also moved up to the Gabilan, making the top tier of the league a seven-team division.
North Monterey County took Alvarez’s spot in the Mission after winning the Cypress division with a perfect 10-0 record. Stevenson, which finished third in the Cypress behind Pajaro Valley, was also bumped up to the Mission.
Rancho San Juan, a new high school in Salinas set to open its doors in the fall, replaced Watsonville in the Santa Lucia division.
There was little movement in the three lower divisions of the PCAL.
St. Francis and Pajaro Valley won the Cypress and Santa Lucia division titles, respectively, but neither team was promoted, because both will graduate the M.V.P. of their division — Janessa Yniguez in the Cypress and Jayleen Solorzano in the Santa Lucia.
Mission division champion Salinas swapped spots with Gilroy, which took fifth in the Gabilan, and Rancho San Juan’s inaugural team was placed in the Santa Lucia division.
N.M.C. stunned Alisal in their second Gabilan division game, but struggled to compete the rest of the season. The league took notice, as the Condors were moved down in favor of Mission division co-champion North Salinas.
Rancho San Juan’s arrival allowed the league to divide the teams into five divisions each consisting of six teams — the teams competed in four divisions this season. The new school was placed in the Santa Lucia division, which this season housed St. Francis and Ceiba College Prep. Those two Watsonville schools will compete in the six-team Arroyo division.
Like the boys, the girls will also compete in five divisions next winter thanks to Rancho San Juan’s addition.
Mission division champion Watsonville will again compete against the top teams the Salinas, Gilroy and San Benito areas have to offer, as the Wildcatz were moved up to the Gabilan. They filled Gilroy’s vacated spot. The Mustangs finished 0-9-1 in the division, and were moved down to the Mission.
Unbeaten Cypress division champion M.V.C., which graduated only a couple starters and is set to return the division M.V.P. Sophie Bessa, will face a new set of challenges after being moved up to the Mission.
Pajaro Valley, meanwhile, will gain a boost of confidence after being moved down to the Santa Lucia division, which will be the league’s lone seven-team division.
Pajaro Valley will move down to the eight-team Cypress division after competing in the Mission this winter.
The Mission, which will feature North Monterey County and Watsonville, has seven teams, and the Gabilan, which M.V.C. calls home, will carry six.
Along with Pajaro Valley, the Cypress will contain seven other teams, including St. Francis.
Editor's Note: This article will publish in the April 5 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.