"We really didn't have many easy games this season at all," Bell-Jeff Coach Julian Andrade said. "And I think it's because of that tough schedule that they made us No. 2 in the division. Playing all those tough opponents, and lot of them from divisions that are higher than us, has really paid off when it came to the playoffs."
Bell-Jeff, having finished second in the Santa Fe League, hosts a Mammoth squad (11-13) that took fourth in the Desert Mountain League.
The top seed in the division is Renaissance Academy (16-7), which placed second in the Harbor League.
"Renaissance is head and shoulders above all the other teams," Andrade said. "But I know on our side of the bracket we have some tough teams like Riverside Christian and Santa Clarita Christian. You just have to play hard against everyone in the playoffs.
"I think we're going to be ready. Our guys are a funny group and nothing seems to faze them. They all just take it in and do what they have to."
If the Guards move on to Friday's second round, Sherman Indian (12-7) — No. 2 in the Arrowhead League — or 15th-seeded Mesa Grande Academy (11-10) — No. 4 from the Victory League — awaits.
On Friday night, the Division !!-AA playoffs tip off, with Burroughs (16-10), having finished tied for third in the Pacific League, traveling to face Placentia Valencia (18-8), the 16th seed and a second-place squad out of the Empire League.
Awaiting the winner in Tuesday's second round will be Chino (8-16), which tied for fifth in the Mt. Baldy League, or No. 1 seed Anaheim Canyon (23-4), the Century League champion.
Burbank (13-13), having earned an at-large bid after a fifth-place finish in the Pacific League, opens up first-round play on Friday at 10th-seeded Peninsula (13-12), the Bay League's No. 2 squad, in the Division I-A tournament.
The winner will advance to face either seventh-seeded Villa Park (17-10), the fourth-place team from the Century League, or Godinez (19-9), the No. 3 team from the Orange League, in Tuesday's second round.
Providence (15-10), after a third-place showing in the Liberty League, will travel to face Salesian (18-9), the 11th seed in the Division IV-A tournament and the third-place squad out of the Santa Fe League, on Wednesday.
The victor will then face sixth-seeded Crossroads (16-5), the Delphic League champion, or Sage Hill (15-9), the fourth-place team from the Academy League, on Friday in the second round.
All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. unless a change is mutually agreed upon.