FIELDER’S CHOICES: From 4A to 1A, go to the bank on my playoff picks

It was only five weeks ago that I offered my humble predictions for league play.

Yet here we are, with the playoffs ready to begin Tuesday.

Buckle up for a ride that will be wilder than the roller coaster atop New York-New York.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the opening round:


Western at Palo Verde — Palo Verde blasted Western by 32 in December, and if anything, the Panthers have gotten better since then.

The scary thing for the region is that Palo Verde will have home-court throughout. The Panthers lost one league game at home all year.

You know how I loved the Panthers’ stacked football team. There must be something in the water over on Pavilion Center Drive.

Look at the talent on this team — Moses Morgan, D.J. Stennis, Davion Pearson, and the list goes on.

That’s too much to overcome for the Warriors, but the matchup between Stennis and Johnnie Diggs should be fun to watch.

Palo Verde by 22.

Mojave at Durango —
This is the jewel of the quarterfinal round, a game loaded with talent, and it could go either way.

Mojave is as hard to predict as my English teacher’s essay questions.

The Rattlers have wins over Cheyenne and Palo Verde, but losses to Centennial (twice!), Legacy and Valley. Bottom line, you never have any idea what Mojave team will show up.

Durango nearly ran the table in an underrated league, albeit one not as good as the Northwest.

Both teams have momentum, but my gut tells me Mojave could have a letdown after upsetting Cheyenne in the regular-season finale.

When in doubt, go with the home team.

Durango by 2.

Sierra Vista at Cheyenne — Sierra Vista is not your average No. 3 seed, which speaks to the quality of the Southwest.

But we’re talking about Cheyenne here. Sure, the Desert Shields blew it against Mojave and had some surprising hiccups along the way, but they should still win this game.

If the Desert Shields bow before the Sunset title game, their season will go down as a colossal bust.

Cheyenne by 8.

Centennial at Bishop Gorman —
Did the Gaels really need that 25-point loss to Findlay Prep to break up their 11-game winning streak?

Maybe it was a way for Grant Rice to serve humble pie to his players, who should be able to overwhelm Centennial.

Hand it to the Bulldogs for going .500 in the best league in the city, but that will only go so far.

It’s playoff time. The Gaels are at home and will be ready. A blowout is possible.

Gorman by 11.

Coronado at Desert Pines —
This could be a giant “TBA” leading up to tipoff because the academic eligibility of some Desert Pines player(s) is in question.

Well, if they’re all there, the Jaguars should make quick work of the Cougars.

Desert Pines by 14.

Canyon Springs at Silverado — You know how I love those Skyhawks.

But this is probably the best opener in the region, and the Pioneers are deep and talented enough to win. The Snow boys are double trouble for Silverado.

Wade Collie and Ali Sabra have come too far this season for an 0-1 showing in the playoffs.

Silverado by 8.

Liberty at Eldorado — If Kenneth Peters is back for Liberty, this one could go either way. If he’s not, the Sundevils will stick their pitchfork in the Patriots.

Eldorado is clockwork at the free-throw line, and that will be the difference.

Eldorado by 3.

Las Vegas at Foothill —
Foothill is one of the best stories in Southern Nevada.

They’re a team with no me-first Division I prospects or bulging statistics, yet one that went 12-2 in league.

The Las Vegas resurgence is also a good story, and it would not be a surprise to see the Wildcats pull the upset.

But I’ll take Evan Roquemore and the Falcons.

Foothill by 9.


Boulder City vs. Faith Lutheran — Faith Lutheran by 5.

Virgin Valley vs. Moapa Valley —
Virgin Valley by 1.


The Meadows vs. Needles —
Needles by 18.

Lincoln County vs. Agassi Prep — Lincoln County by 3.


Round Mountain at Lake Mead — Lake Mead by 22.

Spring Mountain at Beatty — Beatty by 4.

Trinity at Pahranagat Valley — Pahranagat Valley by 7.

Tonopah at Henderson International —
Henderson International by 16.


Sierra Vista at Centennial —
The Bulldogs haven’t lost since New Year’s Day, and each of their past 13 wins have come by more than 30 points.

How scary do you think Centennial will be now that the postseason has arrived?

Did you see the new Friday the 13th movie? Yeah, that scary.

Centennial by 41.

Legacy at Bonanza — The Bengals’ speed and perimeter play will be tough for the Longhorns.

Likewise, Legacy’s low-post play could make life hard on Bonanza.

The winner gets the right to be dismantled by Centennial.

Bonanza by 4.

Durango at Palo Verde — Mia Bell. Mia Bell. Mia Bell.

That’s what it’ll sound like on the public-address system.

Durango by 8.

Cheyenne at Bishop Gorman —
Like the Sierra Vista-Centennial game, this is a mere formality.

Can we institute byes for Gorman and Centennial?

Gorman by 34.


Coronado at Desert Pines — The Jaguars have lost two games against Nevada teams all season, but it helped that they played in a lackluster league.

Still, it will be hard for Coronado to match up with Andrea Jefferson and Clarissa Davis, especially on the boards.

Desert Pines by 12.

Eldorado at Silverado —
Silverado’s six-game winning streak was snapped in its regular-season finale, but expect the Skyhawks to rebound quickly.

Shea Collins will give the Sundevils fits.

Silverado by 10.

Liberty at Valley — Amanda Delgado and Jade Washington give the Patriots one of the best one-two punches in town.

The Vikings will need another huge game from Vanessa Corona if they are to advance.

Liberty by 12.

Las Vegas at Green Valley — Green Valley is probably the third-best team in Southern Nevada.

But when you’re behind Gorman and Centennial, that becomes a footnote.

Still, the Gators deserve credit for rolling to a 14-0 Southeast mark. They should have little trouble against the Wildcats.

Green Valley by 21.


Faith Lutheran vs. Virgin Valley — Virgin Valley by 7.

Moapa Valley vs. Boulder City — Moapa Valley by 2.


White Pine vs. Needles — Needles by 20.

Mountain View vs. Lincoln County —
Lincoln County by 8.


Henderson International at Lund —
Lund by 39.

Trinity at Pahranagat Valley — Pahranagat Valley by 28.

Lake Mead at Round Mountain — Round Mountain by 4.

Tonopah at Beatty —
Beatty by 10.