Long Beach Poly remains No. 1 in the state rankings with its only loss to the nation’s top-rated team. Mater Dei climbs to No. 2 with Sheldon up to No. 3. New Top 20 for girls and first look at divisional state rankings coming early this week as well.
By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
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(Updated through games played Saturday, Jan. 5; previous ranking in parentheses)
1. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 12-1
The top-ranked Jackrabbits closed out 2012 by capturing the Whataburger Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas with a 51-40 victory over East of Plano, Texas. USC commit Roschon Prince netted 19 points and Oregon-bound forward Jordan Bell added 14 points in the victory. Poly defeated four Lone Star State teams en route to its second tournament title. After winning the Pac Shores Tournament, Poly then had an impressive showing at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., defeating nationally-ranked Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) 64-57 to take third place as Bell dominated with 20 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks. Poly’s only loss so far is to national No. 1 Montverde Academy (Fla.) 76-51, but considering that team just defeated national power Simeon of Chicago by 29 points, it wasn’t a bad showing at all. The big news off the court is talented transfer Kameron Chatman has been ruled ineligible until March 16, which is the date of the CIF Southern California regional finals.
2. (4) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 16-0
The Monarchs are climbing in various national rankings and put together textbook performances to win the Tarkanian Classic with victories over No. 12 Bishop O’Dowd (67-46) and national programs Our Savior New American of New York (55-39) and Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas (76-60). Mater Dei then rolled through the competition at the Orange Holiday Classic before opening up Trinity League play last week with victories over JSerra Catholic (53-47) and Santa Margarita (65-47). JSerra had control of the league opener until Mater Dei closed out the game on a 17-8 run as junior Stanley Johnson scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Johnson is a bonafide Mr. Basketball candidate, but the key to the Monarchs’ success so far has been the precision teamwork and passing ability of their role players.
3. (6) Sheldon (Sacramento) 9-4
This is without a doubt the hardest team to rank in the state. The Huskies lost early to Aaron Gordon-led Mitty, but their team was basically a M.A.S.H. Unit at the time. That also showed at the Tarkanian Classic as the Huskies went 2-2 but without a loss to an in-state team. Strongman D’ Erryl Williams didn’t play in Las Vegas, but he was the difference-maker in Sheldon capturing the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Huskies defeated Windward of Los Angeles (60-50) in the semifinals and outclassed St. Augustine of San Diego 64-47 after that team beat nationally ranked and previous No. 3 Salesian of Richmond in the other semifinal. Dakari Allen was named tournament MVP as the Huskies still played without Washington-bound Darin Johnson. Allen and Johnson then combined for 43 points in the title game of the All State Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic title game in New Orleans, but it wasn’t enough as Riverside Academy of Reserve, La. was victorious 72-65. Sheldon still only has one in-state loss and the team will get even better when Johnson and senior guard Jalen Hicks find their comfort zone.
4. (8) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 16-0
Coach Doug Mitchell’s club can’t be ignored as one of the state’s top teams after entering January with an unblemished record. The Knights have already defeated L.A. City power Westchester and teams from five different states. This calendar year, Bishop Montgomery already has three victories, including a tension-filled 60-58 win over Redondo Union last Saturday night. Point guard Justin Bibbins calmly nailed two free throws with 3.6 seconds left after a hard foul and the teams had a brief skirmish following the final whistle, according to the South Bay Daily Breeze. Expect another highly-contested game when the Knights battle No. 6 St. John Bosco on Saturday.
5. (9) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 10-1
The Braves have overcome their stinker loss to Inglewood by capturing the Chick Fil-A Classic in Columbia, South Carolina. They did it by defeating three out-of-state foes, including perennial power Wheeler of Marietta, Ga. in the semifinals by two points. All-State wing Isaac Hamilton netted 24 points and sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the 72-62 title game win over Blanche Ely of Pompano Beach, Fla. Bosco has already won two Trinity League games, but this week will be big for Derrick Taylor’s club as the Braves host No. 2 Mater Dei in a titanic league showdown and No. 4 Bishop Montgomery in a non-league affair.
6. (5) Loyola (Los Angeles) 11-2
The Cubs only drop one spot in the Top 20 state rankings even though they lost twice at the MaxPreps tournament in Palm Springs. Coach Jamal Adams’ club lost to Fort Bend Travis of Richmond, Texas by three points in the semifinals and to Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood in the third-place game. Fort Bend Travis came into the season nationally-ranked and already owned a win over No. 11 Mitty and Loyola already owned an earlier win over Harvard-Westlake. That win and others over teams such as Santa Monica (twice), No. 13 Pacific Hills and No. 14 Brentwood leaves no doubt the Cubs are one of the state’s finest teams despite those rough 24 hours in the desert. They play No. 17 Chaminade on Monday night.
7. (12) Centennial (Corona) 15-1
It’s been a spectacular season so far for the Huskies, who have done enough to hop Etiwanda, a team they have split with, in this week’s rankings. Wins over Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove, Calabasas, Bullard of Fresno and Santa Monica also aid in the rise. The team was off last week, but before that defeated Santa Monica 80-69 to win the Oaks Christian tournament. Tourney MVP Sam Finley netted 25 points with sophomore Sedrick Barefield and junior Deontae North both scoring 23. Centennial plays Corona and Norco in Big VIII League games this week.
8. (11) Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga) 9-2
In addition to the split with Corona Centennial, the Eagles’ only other loss so far has been to out-of-state Westwind Prep of Arizona. They won last week 59-32 over M.L. King of Riverside behind junior Kenny Barnes’ 19 points. Fellow junior standout Jordan McLaughlin added 11. Etiwanda faces Baseline League rivals Upland and Los Osos this week and also has a nonleague matchup with Beverly Hills.
9. (10) Bullard (Fresno) 12-1
Corey Silverstrom has been lighting it up for the Knights, with his latest effort being a 19-point outing in a 79-55 win against Central of Fresno. That showcase game gave Bullard two wins on the season over Central, which is probably the second-best team in the CIF Central Section. Bullard’s only loss is by six points to Corona Centennial. The biggest win is still the one against defending CIF Division IV state champ Salesian of Richmond. The Knights have another big test Saturday on the road at No. 3 Sheldon of Sacramento.
10. (3) Salesian (Richmond) 10-3
While the Pride does have that big win from the holiday break over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, they now have to drop down below Bullard not just because of having a head-to-head loss to the Knights but also because the St. Augustine of San Diego team they lost to at Torrey Pines has now lost to Cathedral Catholic. Salesian’s latest loss was 65-59 to Gonzaga of Washington, D.C., but Gonzaga is one of the best teams from the rugged D.C. area and it was a game shown on ESPNU. Jabari Bird led the Pride with 22 points in that game. Note that Gonzaga will play another California team, Long Beach Poly, in the upcoming Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
11. (2) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 8-3
The Monarchs lost by 19 points to Salesian so they have to come way down in this week’s rankings, also considering that Salesian finished in third place at Torrey Pines. Things are looking up for the team, though, since All-American Aaron Gordon put on a show at the Les Schwab Invitational in Portland (he scored 43 points in one game and the team’s only loss in the event was to Jesuit of Portland by four points) and since the team already is off to a 2-0 start in the West Catholic Athletic League. The Monarchs faced 10-0 Bellarmine of San Jose in their first league game last week and won 65-63. They go up against St. Francis of Mountain View, Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco and Serra of San Mateo in this week’s games.
12. (7) Bishop O’ Dowd (Oakland) 9-3
Wins over Deer Valley of Antioch and Pacific Hills of Los Angeles still stand out for the Dragons. A loss to Mater Dei doesn’t hurt much, but the back-to-back losses to Windward of Los Angeles and Mundelein of Illinois cause a five-spot drop after the good showing at the Tarkanian Classic. O’Dowd won last week 70-64 against league foe San Lorenzo as sophomore standout Ivan Rabb pumped in 24 points.
13. (13) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 10-2
Big wins over Westchester of Los Angeles and Deer Valley of Antioch are looking better for the Bruins, who have still lost only to Bishop O’Dowd and to Loyola. They capped their holiday schedule with a 63-58 triumph over Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) in the title game of the Vista Mesa Challenge in Arizona. Jahmel Taylor tossed in 27 points to lead the way while Marcus Jackson hit for 20. This week will see more tough games against Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (Taylor’s former school), Windward and Campbell Hall.
14. (NR) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 12-1
The Eagles’ only loss is to No. 6 Loyola and they won their division of the MaxPreps Tournament in Palm Springs. Coach Ryan “Moose” Bailey’s club also has enough quality wins, including those against El Camino Real of Woodland Hills and Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove, to move this high coming into this week’s rankings. Junior Tra Holder has been sensational, including a 34-point outburst when Brentwood beat Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta in the finals of the MaxPreps tourney. This week’s games are against Viewpoint of Calabasas, Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and Crossroads of Santa Monica.
15. (14) Deer Valley (Antioch) 10-3
The Wolverines have to drop one spot because of a loss to San Leandro, but still own that big win over 11-1 De La Salle of Concord. Westchester of Los Angeles would have moved into this spot or even No. 14 after winning the top division of the MaxPreps tournament, but that was erased by a stinker loss to St. Anthony of Long Beach in the Comets’ latest game. Deer Valley ventured to the Father Barry Tribute last Saturday in Sacramento and defeated host Jesuit of Carmichael 79-59. Kentucky-bound Marcus Lee dominated with 21 points and 22 rebounds while guard Kendall Smith had 22 points.
16. (16) De La Salle (Concord) 11-1
Head coach Frank Allocco attended the press conference at the school on Friday afternoon when legendary football head coach Bob Ladouceur announced he was stepping down from that position, and then headed over to Amador Valley of Pleasanton to direct the Spartans in their second East Bay Athletic League game. De La Salle survived a 45-43 upset bid with senior Elliott Pitts leading the way with 27 points. The Spartans could have another tough EBAL game this week against 10-3 Monte Vista of Danville.
17. (20) Chaminade (West Hills) 12-2
Top wins for the Eagles have come against El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, Santa Monica and Oaks Christian of Westlake Village. They have done enough to overcome a loss to West Ranch of Valencia and have Loyola, Harvard-Westlake and Crespi coming right up in this week’s games. In a 88-67 victory last Saturday against Providence of Burbank, freshman Trevor Stanback pumped in a career-high 24 points to complement Jack Williams with his team-high 26 points.
18. (NR) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 13-2
This talented team is starting to play like favorites in the CIF L.A. City Section. Close losses to No. 17 Chaminade and No. 14 Brentwood are offset by impressive wins at the Modesto Christian tourney. In a 71-46 win last week over Dorsey of Los Angeles, junior Julian Richardson had 21 points and nine rebounds. He has been over 20 points in three of his last four games and is averaging 16.1 ppg. The Conquistadors play Lincoln of San Diego on Saturday.
19. (NR) Santa Monica 11-4
Cal-bound Jordan Matthews is having a strong season for the Vikings, including a game-high of 32 points when the team lost to No. 7 Corona Centennial in the finals of the Oaks Christian tourney. Santa Monica’s three other losses also are all to higher-ranked teams – two by close scores to No. 6 Loyola and the other to No. 17 Chaminade. Ocean League play starts this week with matchups against Inglewood and Culver City.
20. (NR) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 13-2
The Dons just defeated their arch-rivals from St. Augustine 67-64, which was significant because the Saints are the ones that beat Salesian of Richmond (when the Pride was nationally ranked) to advance to the Torrey Pines National Division final. Brandon Michel canned six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points to lead the Dons against St. Augustine. One of the team’s other losses also was to No. 8 Etiwanda.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 15 Inglewood, No. 17 Mission Viejo, No. 18 Newark Memorial (Newark), No. 19 West Ranch (Valencia).
Teams on the Bubble:
Alemany (Mission Hills) 10-4
Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-2
Central (Fresno) 11-3
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 9-4
J.W. North (Riverside) 14-2
Modesto Christian 11-2
Mission Viejo 15-1
Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 15-1
Price (Los Angeles) 14-3
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 9-3
Serra (Gardena) 11-3
Serra (San Mateo) 10-2
St. Augustine (San Diego) 8-3
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 14-2
Westchester (Los Angeles) 12-5
West Ranch (Valencia) 10-4
Windward (Los Angeles) 7-6
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