By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
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Note: Next week’s rankings will be compiled and released AFTER games played on the Monday Martin Luther King Jr. holiday so they will not be posted until Wednesday.
Any doubt about which is the top girls basketball team in the Bay Area was erased when Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland dealt St. Mary’s of Berkeley a decisive defeat last Saturday with a 67-49 victory.
The win, in front of a packed house in Oakland that included the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan, also cements the Dragons’ position as the No. 3 team in the state.
On the flip side, St. Mary’s does not lose its position after playing a most challenging schedule so far and doing very well.
The Dragons came out smoking and it was 5-0 less than 30 seconds into the game. The lead was 22-7 after one quarter and hovered at around 11-12 points most of the second quarter with O’Dowd holding a 38-27 halftime lead.
A huge reason St. Mary’s was able to stay close in the first half, despite being out-rebounded 23-8, was that Cal-bound 6-foot-2 power forward K.C. Waters, 6-foot-4 Virginia Tech-committed post Breanna Brown, and floor general and San Diego State-bound Ariell Bostick all having three fouls midway through the second quarter.
Still, it was when the three returned that the visiting Panthers made their biggest run. When Brown picked up her fourth foul, the two free throws by Cal-committed junior Mikayla Cowling cut it to 42-36 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
From there, however, the Dragons’ defense stiffened, and their depth showed as sophomore 5-foot-5 guard Asha Thomas helped take over. She keyed a 22-6 run, scoring eight of her game-high 18 points (6-for-6 from free-throw line), and dishing out four of her six assists, in the final 12 minutes. She also finished with six rebounds and three steals.
“I’ve been on varsity of an elite team since my freshman year so I’m expected to play like an elite player,” Thomas told the Caravan. “Right now my goal as a sophomore is to continue to grow as a player and a person, and listen to the coaches and then execute what I’m asked to do.”
“Asha is huge. She’s learned from her mistakes,” O’Dowd head coach Malik McCord remarked.
Team USA Gold Medalist Oderah Chidom, a 6-foot-3 Duke-bound forward and one of the nation’s top rated bigs, finished with a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds with four blocks. Waters had 10 points and nine rebounds with two blocks, and another promising sophomore guard, 5-7 Aisia Robertson, came off the bench to contribute 10 points, six rebounds and two assists. Brown fouled out with seven points and eight rebounds.
Cowling, who had a big game in the loss to Stockton St. Mary’s, was held to six points (six rebounds, four blocks and three assists) on a three-pointer and three free throws.
Highly-regarded Panthers’ 6-foot-1 wing Gabby Green, who reportedly has 11 Division I college offers, including Cal, Duke, Baylor, LSU, Maryland and several Pac-12 schools, played her heart out and finished with 14 points, eight steals, five rebounds and two assists. Elexis Goodwin also had 14 points.
Here are this week’s rankings:
(Updated through games played Saturday, Jan. 12; previous ranking in
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 17-0
In almost identical scores, the Monarchs beat Trinity League foes Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) and Orange Lutheran of Orange, 70-32 and 72-32, respectively. Then, head coach Kevin Kiernan and his girls took a leisurely 170-mile round trip to Ventura County where they handed Camarillo an 87-47 defeat. With the game coming on the heels of the televised game with Orange Lutheran, and combined with the ride, Mater Dei started sluggishly and actually trailed 19-17 after one quarter before waking up for a 15-0 run that took the steam out of the hosts. Sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson scored a game-high 28 points and Stanford-bound senior Karlie Samuelson had 21.
2. (2) Windward (Los Angeles) 16-0
The next four Alpha League games between now and a January 26 rematch with No. 5 Long Beach Poly won’t be a lot to write home about, particularly the way the girls opened league play. Last week, the Wildcats outscored two opponents 138-40 with wins over North Hollywood Campbell Hall (64-17) and 74-23 over Los Angeles Milken (74-23). The biggest concern for Windward is the lack of depth it has after the first five girls. Even though Jordin Canada, Courtney Jaco and Kris Simon are amongst the top players in the state, an injury to any one of them are even one of the other starters could curtail the Wildcats in the playoffs.
3. (3) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 10-3
Besides the win over St. Mary’s of Berkeley last week, the Dragons blew out Hayward and soundly defeated Berkeley 58-28. Four games are on tap this week, including an MLK weekend Saturday matchup with defending D5 state champion Stockton Brookside Christian and then on Monday versus La Jolla Country Day, both days at Stockton St. Mary’s. The Cal-Hi Sports Caravan will be there on Saturday for all seven games. The Dragons open the week with West Alameda – Foothill League games against Piedmont and Alameda.
4. (4) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 14-1
Despite not having a girl over 5-foot-10, the Rams don’t play like they have much size, using defensive intensity and overall hustle coupled with pretty consistent outside shooting to beat top-notch teams. Last week, coach Tom Gonsalves’ girls had three Tri-City League blowouts by a combined score of 273-64, and then closed out the week on Saturday with an eight-point win over visiting No. 15 Richmond Salesian. In the 64-56 victory, the Rams got another huge game from Bri Moore, as she is starting to prove she can do the job against the state’s best teams. The 5-foot-5 sophomore finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and took over down the stretch just like two weeks ago against Berkeley St. Mary’s, scoring the team’s final eight points to hold off a Salesian team that briefly had a fourth quarter lead.
5. (5) Long Beach Poly 13-2
It was a ho-hum week for the Jackrabbits as they won their two Moore League games by a combined 136-24. In a 76-15 triumph over Compton, both Jada Matthews and Arica Carter finished with a team-high 14 points. The earlier win was 80-9 vs. Long Beach Jordan. This week will be more of the same to start, but on Friday coach Carl Buggs and his girls will take on No. 11 Long Beach Millikan.
6. (6) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 10-3
Nothing on the court other than they don’t have the depth of teams like Stockton St. Mary’s or O’Dowd changes after a 2-1 week that included the O’Dowd loss. The only thing head coach Nate Fripp and the girls can do now is move on and concentrate on Tri-County Rock League play where they enter the week tied for first at 3-0 with Salesian. It certainly comes to a head quick since after posting a win already on Monday over St. Patrick St. Vincent not reflected in this record, they face El Cerrito on Wednesday and Salesian on Friday. Then they have an MLK Day Saturday game in Stockton against Oregon power South Medford, and complete a five-game stretch with an MLK Day game on Monday versus Berkeley at Kentfield Marin Catholic.
7. (7) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 11-3
The Monarchs have had no trouble in a 4-0 start in the West Catholic Athletic League with wins over San Jose Presentation, St. Ignatius of San Francisco and last week over Mountain View St. Francis and Belmont Notre Dame, 59-44 and 68-36, respectively. Junior phenom Kelli Hayes had 21 points against St. Francis, and 19 points, seven rebounds, six steals, three blocks and two assists versus Notre Dame. This week, they travel to crosstown Valley Christian, and then take on upstart Sacred Heart Cathedral in a game on Friday night the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan is planning on attending. Finally, they end a four-game stretch with a Monday MLK Day matchup in Stockton versus Sacramento.
8. (9) Chaminade (West Hills) 16-2
The Eagles take the spot vacated with the drop of La Jolla Country Day after rebounding from the three-point loss to Oaks Christian two weeks ago by opening Mission League play with a 65-34 rout of Woodland Hills Louisville and a 53-38 victory over Sherman Oaks Notre. In the latter win, Chaminade trailed 23-22 at the half despite being at home, before clamping down on defense in the second half. On tap is a league road game with North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake and then a showdown with No. 18 and arch-rival Bishop Alemany at home.
9. (12) Santiago (Corona) 15-2
An impressive 65-57 win over Troy of Fullerton (both teams are now in the top 10 due to other teams’ losses) has carried the Sharks from No. 12 to No. 9 in this week’s rankings. Santiago went on a 26-18 scoring surge in the third quarter to key the win. Chrishae Rowe also put on a show for the Sharks with 28 points. Junior Monique Billings added 13 points and 14 rebounds. Santiago plays Corona and M.L. King of Riverside in this week’s games, which both will be in Big VIII League competition.
10. (11) Troy (Fullerton) 13-3
Before the Warriors fell to No. 9 Santiago, they posted easy league wins last week of 70-36 against La Habra and 73-10 over Buena Park. Oregon State-bound Gabriella Hanson led the way against the Sharks with 24 points. The team’s only other losses are to No. 1 Mater Dei and to Science Hill (Johnson City, Tenn.). This week’s most interesting matchup may be on Saturday against Quest Prep of Nevada in the OC/San Diego Challenge.
11. (13) Millikan (Long Beach) 16-1
Coach Lorene Morgan’s squad improved to 3-0 in the Moore League with an easy 67-41 victory over Jordan of Long Beach. The Rams had three players score 10 points – Erin Hagan, Brianna Guillory and Maya Smith – and were never threatened. Millikan, which has lost its only game to Troy of Fullerton, will take a crack at No. 5 Long Beach Poly on Saturday. Before that, the Rams play Wilson of Long Beach and Lakewood.
12. (14) Serra (Gardena) 14-2
The Cavaliers only played one game last week but it was a big one as they took on Bishop Amat, which was No. 20 and entered the game at 15-2. While the scoreboard showed a 55-44 win for Serra, it was essentially over early due to a 17-4 advantage in the first quarter. Deandrea Toler and Caila Hailey both netted 15 points for the Cavs with Hailey also snaring 10 rebounds. It’s a busy week for the girls this week with two league games (one against Bishop Montgomery) then a Saturday matchup with Stanford-bound Erica McCall and her team at Ridgeview of Bakersfield followed by an MLK Day contest against Culver City.
13. (15) Miramonte (Orinda) 14-1
Three Diablo Foothill Athletic League blowouts by a combined score of 250-88 moves the Matadors to No. 4 in NorCal/Bay Area. Of the three wins, the only one that was reasonably close was a 79-48 victory over arch-rival and pretty decent Campolindo of Moraga, the West Coast Jamboree Emerald Division winner. The only blemish on the Mats’ record remains the one in the Nike TOC to No. 2 Windward.
14. (16) Etiwanda 15-2
After posting a 64-49 win last week over previous No. 8 La Jolla Country Day, the Eagles gain two positions in this week’s rankings. McKynzie Fort more than held down the fort as she scored 15 points and dished for six assists to lead Etiwanda. Amy Okonkwo added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Earlier in the week, the Eagles routed Upland (77-21) and Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga (90-21). Two more league games are on tap for this week.
15. (17) Salesian (Richmond) 13-4
The Pride get to go ahead of Carondelet in the Bay Area pecking order pending this week’s league match-up with No. 6 St. Mary’s. Besides a 63-50 non-league win over Atherton Menlo last week, the girls posted a 57-33 win over host Vallejo St. Patrick St. Vincent and a 50-point blowout over visiting Pinole Valley. Then they traveled to Stockton and only lost by eight points at St. Mary’s, in a game they actually led at one point of the early fourth quarter. Salesian already has a blowout win on Monday over El Cerrito not reflected in their record, and continue this week with home games against St. Joseph Notre Dame and No. 6 St. Mary’s of Berkeley, before an MLK Day date with San Francisco St. Ignatius at the Marin Catholic event.
16. (10) Carondelet (Concord) 11-3
The road win over Berkeley St. Mary’s is still on the resume but a 63-60 road loss to Monte Vista last week, which has three losses including one immediately after the win to a mediocre Pleasanton Amador Valley, means the Cougars have to drop. This is a perfect example of matchups with mid-level teams. Carondelet’s lack of size can be a big problem on occasion, and other times like versus Berkeley St. Mary’s it was an asset. This happens to a 3-point shooting team that isn’t deep. Although the team is somewhat one dimensional, and despite Monte Vista having some questionable losses, they get to stay in the State Top 20 but behind Miramonte and Salesian in the NorCal/Bay Area pecking order.
17. (8) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 7-8
Coach Teri Bamford’s club suffered losses last week to JSerra and Etiwanda but still own a head-to-head win over Alemany and has a win over the Oaks Christian team that upset Chaminade. Depth is the obvious problem for this team, but at this level Kelsey Plum can single-handedly beat these lower ranked teams and warrants the Torreys staying in the rankings. They play Stockton St. Mary’s and O’Dowd in the MLK Day two-day event in Northern California this weekend, however, and that may be D-Day for them staying in the rankings.
18. (18) Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 15-4
Due to having a head-to-head loss to La Jolla Country Day (which dropped to No. 17 this week), the Warriors are not able to move up in this week’s rankings. They have a chance to move up next week, however, because one of this week’s games will be against No. 8 Chaminade. A 2-0 week was capped with a 59-35 win over Louisville of Woodland Hills. Clarissa Larios was the top scorer with 10 points.
19. (19) Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 15-2
A three-point home win (66-63) over a J.W. North of Riverside team that lost by 34 to Etiwanda and 24 to Santiago doesn’t help the Mustangs move up in this week’s rankings. In the other game last week, Rancho Verde bombed Arlington of Riverside 74-28. The team’s only losses are to Troy of Fullerton and Rock Canyon of Colorado.
20. (NR) Centennial (Corona) 14-1
Yet another Inland Empire team gets into the mix and here’s why: The Huskies have a 32-point win over Lutheran of Orange (which has a win over JSerra, the team that just beat La Jolla Country Day) and their only loss is by just two to Rancho Verde. In the team’s 58-35 triumph last week against Norco, Cal State Fullerton commit Samantha Logan (daughter of football coach Matt Logan) shined with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine steals. Centennial has a matchup on Saturday against St. Anthony of Long Beach, a Division V powerhouse that is getting its best players back into its lineup.
Team That Dropped Out
Previous No. 20 Bishop Amat (La Puente).
On the Bubble
Berkeley 7-7, Bishop Amat (La Puente) 15-4, Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 17-3, Bishop’s (La Jolla) 11-6, Bonita (La Verne) 13-4, Bullard (Fresno) 12-3, Brea-Olinda (Brea) 13-3, Brookside Christian (Stockton) 14-2, Cajon (San Bernardino) 17-0, Canyon (Canyon Country) 15-3, Clovis West (Fresno) 10-4, Enterprise (Redding) 16-1, El Dorado (Placentia) 18-1, Hanford 13-4, Heritage (Brentwood) 11-4, Horizon (San Diego) 14-4, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 14-4, J.W. North (Riverside) 10-4, Kennedy (Sacramento) 13-3, Keppel (Alhambra) 15-3, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 16-2, Laguna Hills 15-4, Lynbrook (San Jose) 13-2, Lynwood 9-5, McNair (Stockton) 17-0, Miller (Fontana) 15-2, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 14-2*, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 10-5, Orange Lutheran (Orange) 16-2, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 11-4, Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 14-3, Sacramento 13-2, St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 14-5, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 12-3, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 13-5, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 14-1, Woodbridge (Irvine) 16-2 . (*not including forfeits)
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