California teams get clobbered in MLK weekend events so Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei get to stay at No. 1 and No. 2. Going in as newcomers are St. Augustine of San Diego and Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove.
By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
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(Updated through games played Monday, Jan. 21; previous ranking in
1. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 17-2
When the lineup for the Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts was announced, we figured Poly’s game versus Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. would give us a good indication of the Jackrabbits’ strength since that club defeated No. 8 Salesian at another showcase event. But then when the Poly coaching staff informed us its game back east was going to be switched to powerful Whitney Young of Chicago, we figured Poly was going to have trouble. Poly is a nationally-ranked unit, but the Jackrabbits don’t have the size to be a national-championship caliber team as was evident in the 76-51 loss to Montverde Academy of Florida. That team features Kentucky-bound center Dakari Johnson, but Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor is arguably more dominant and he’s only a junior. When it was all said and done, Poly made only 20 of 52 shots from the field, while Okafor made 13 of 17 for a Whitney Young team that shot over 69 percent from the field in its 85-52 victory. To Poly’s credit, it knew a game against Whitney Young was going to be much tougher than Gonzaga and coach Sherrief Metoyer’s program hasn’t ducked anyone in its quest for its first state and national title since the 1983-84 season. The quest for another mythical national crown is over, but in actuality it really doesn’t matter if Poly or Mater Dei is ranked No. 1 in the state because there’s a good possibility the teams could meet down the line in the post-season.
2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 20-1
We were set to jump the Monarchs ahead of Long Beach Poly in our ratings after seeing that Long Beach Poly was blown out for a second time by a national-level opponent. After all, the Los Angeles Times already has the Jackrabbits behind both Mater Dei and Bishop Montgomery. But then the Monarchs lost to St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio, 58-44, on MLK Monday, so it was decided the switch couldn’t be made. Even though the Monarchs did travel to Ohio for the game, St. Edward already has four in-state losses and clearly is not on the level of the Montverde Academy or Whitney Young teams that Poly had to face while also traveling. The Monarchs also needed double overtime last week to defeat JSerra of San Juan Capistrano 82-80 after dispatching Servite of Anaheim (53-16). Mater Dei held on to defeat JSerra as standout junior Stanley Johnson scored eight of his 24 points in the second overtime as Mater Dei kept its 24-game Trinity League winning streak intact. Without much depth and after playing what Johnson told the Orange County Register was its worst game of the season against JSerra, the Monarchs’ overall 41-game winning streak went down in flames after Johnson did not start because of a missed flight, not to mention the Monarchs’ 16 of 52 shooting from the field.
3. (3) Sheldon (Sacramento) 15-4
After defeating No. 7 Bullard two weeks ago, the defending Northern California Division I champions won three games last week, including a 97-92 triumph over No. 15 Deer Valley. After dispatching of Ponderosa of Shingle Springs (68-35) and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (57-39), the Huskies hosted Deer Valley last Saturday. Sheldon played without head coach Joey Rollings, who was ejected in the win over Oak Ridge, and without SDSU recruit Dakari Allen, who was out with the flu. With power guard D’Erryl Williams, another SDSU recruit, battling foul trouble, Washington-bound Darin Johnson picked up the slack big-time, as he netted a career-high 42 points to lead his team to victory. Included in his memorable performance was a 19-point third quarter outburst. Sheldon will stay in Delta River League play until facing No. 8 Salesian on February 2.
4. (4) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 20-0
It was a light week for the Knights, with a lone victory over La Salle of Pasadena (84-42) in league action. As a result of Mater Dei’s loss on Monday, Bishop Montgomery is the only unbeaten team in our state rankings. Can the Knights hang with and beat some of the nationally-ranked teams that Long Beach Poly and Mitty have been unsuccessful against? There is some evidence that Bishop Montgomery is deserving of a lofty national ranking based on its wins, but having seen coach Douglas Mitchell’s group in person it’s hard to see them defeating teams such as Whitney Young of Chicago or Findlay Prep of Las Vegas. The Knights do own some quality wins and if they enter the post-season unbeaten they’ll definitely hop some of the teams in front of them that have played a tougher schedule.
5. (6) Centennial (Corona) 19-1
The Huskies crack top five with Loyola losing twice in league and a test against Damien of La Verne coming up. Moving to 4-0 in Big VIII League play, Centennial picked up a pair of wins at home last week as they defeated King of Riverside 98-54 and Roosevelt of Eastvale 69-60. Leading the Mustangs 15-14 after one quarter, the Huskies took control by outscoring their opponents by a 41-27 margin in the middle two quarters. Sophomore Sedrick Barefield scored a game-high 18 points while senior Sam Finley added 17 points. They will play a pair of league games against Santiago of Corona and Corona before ending the week with the non-league game against Damien.
6. (7) Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga) 15-2
Coach Dave Kleckner’s Eagles had an easy time racking up three more wins last week as they defeated Alta Loma 65-28 and Rancho Cucamonga 76-39 in Baseline League play before a non-league 63-34 win over Eisenhower of Rialto. Ten different players managed to score during their week-ending win over Eisenhower as Sheldon Blackwell led the way with 14 points and Dominick Alexander also was in double digits with 12 points. Just like last week, Etiwanda will play two league games this week — against Glendora and Upland — before a non-league battle, this time on Saturday against defending CIF Division II South champion La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad.
7. (8) Bullard (Fresno) 16-2
After the loss to Sacramento Sheldon from the week before, the Knights battled back for three wins. First, they defeated Madera South of Madera 69-27 and San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno 80-29 last week in league play, then spent MLK Day at the MLK Showcase where they defeated Dorsey of Los Angeles 75-49. Corey Silverstrom led the way in the win on Monday with 24 points. Looking to remain undefeated in league, Bullard faces Sanger on Wednesday before a game at Madera on Friday.
8. (9) Salesian (Richmond) 16-3
It was a busy week for the Pride since our last rankings update as they earned three wins last week before defeating perennial power De La Salle of Concord 47-43 at Haas Pavilion on MLK Day. Trailing the Spartans 33-27 after three quarters, Mario Dunn scored 12 of his 15 points in the final quarter to lead a 20-10 surge. Before that win, Salesian had double-digit victories over El Cerrito, St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda and St. Mary’s of Berkeley. This week, the team plays at St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo and then hosts Pinole Valley.
9. (5) Loyola (Los Angeles) 15-4
It’s yet another week where it’s tricky to rank the Cubs. Without point guard Jackson Parker-Cartwright, Loyola lost back-to-back Mission League games to Crespi of Encino (82-80) and Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood (61-59), but drop only four spots for a couple of reasons. First, Mitty and St. John Bosco don’t deserve to move up and Loyola not only owns wins over No. 13 Pacific Hills and No. 14 Brentwood, it also previously beat the Harvard-Westlake team it just lost to and it took a ESPN SportsCenter type shot for the Cubs to lose to Crespi without their best player. If Loyola keeps losing in league play and loses handily to No. 11 St. John Bosco this upcoming weekend, we’ll have no choice but to penalize them accordingly whether PJC plays or not.
10. (10) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 13-4
The Monarchs have been racking up the airplane miles this season as they once again flew out of state, this time to play on MLK Day at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. The flight home, however, wasn’t a good one as they suffered an 81-46 loss to national top five-ranked Lone Peak of Highland, Utah. Before the loss, Mitty did get WCAL wins over Valley Christian of San Jose and Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco. Aaron Gordon led the way during the 69-57 road win over the Irish as he scored 24 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. They will play just one game this week as they host Bellarmine of San Jose on Wednesday.
11. (11) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 15-4
In between two Trinity League wins, the Braves went 2-1 at the Bass Pro Tourney of Champions with their lone loss coming by a 52-50 final against Paul VI of Virginia, which then went on to defeat the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Montverde Academy of Florida. Before heading to the tournament, the Braves defeated Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita 64-58 and then on MLK Day they defeated Orange Lutheran 72-70 behind 23 points from Isaac Hamilton and 22 points from Daniel Hamilton. After a league contest against JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano, they will face No. 9 Loyola of Los Angeles on Saturday.
12. (12) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 14-3
Sophomore 6-foot-9 Ivan Rabb and the Dragons had a pair of happy bus rides home last week as they defeated San Leandro 57-46 and Castro Valley 71-56. Rabb then scored 20 points in the first half and finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds on Monday afternoon as the Dragons defeated Sacramento 80-71 in the MLK Classic at Haas Pavilion. O’Dowd will once again be on the road for a pair of league games this week as they take on Piedmont and Hayward.
13. (13) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 16-2
It was a huge week for the Bruins with wins against Paraclete of Lancaster, No. 14 Brentwood and previously-ranked West Ranch. They don’t move up in the rankings, though, since every team that lost above them did so against an out-of-state nationally ranked opponent and they also still have a head-to-head loss to Loyola. The 75-71 win over Brentwood came down to the wire. On Monday, it was a bit easier against West Ranch. The 77-59 triumph featured Jahmel Taylor with 26 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and seven steals. The Bruins will face Windward of Los Angeles and Campbell Hall of North Hollywood this week in a pair of home games.
14. (14) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 18-2
Despite suffering their second loss of the season, the Eagles remain at No. 14 right behind Pacific Hills of Los Angeles as they lost by just 75-71 in a game they had a chance to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds before turning the ball over. They did pick up wins against Campbell Hall of North Hollywood and Paraclete of Lancaster last week and then on Monday defeated Windward of Los Angeles to remain in second place in the Alpha League behind Pacific Hills. Leland King scored 32 points and Tra Holder added 26 points in their 76-73 road win over the Spirits. In their lone game left this week, they will face Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro on Saturday.
15. (15) Deer Valley (Antioch) 15-4
Just like the team in front of them in the rankings, the Wolverines suffered a loss but they didn’t move in the rankings as the loss came on the road against No. 3 Sheldon of Sacramento and by 97-92. With such a score, you’d expect both Kendall Smith and Marcus Lee to have big games and they did — Smith with 31 points and 12 assists and Lee with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Before the loss, they defeated Heritage of Brentwood and Antioch to improve to 3-0 in Bay Valley League play and then on MLK Day at Haas Pavilion they defeated Newark Memorial 55-54 as Washied Emran hit the game-winning basket in the final seconds. They will host Liberty of Brentwood in their lone game remaining this week.
16. (16) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 18-2
With a pair of West Valley League games on their schedule last week, the Conquistadors have now won 12 straight as they defeated Chatsworth 73-32 and Granada Hills 58-37. Julian Richardson once again led the offense with 18 points while Michael Thomas also was in double figures with 10 points against the Highlanders. They will play league games against Taft of Woodland Hills and Cleveland of Reseda this week before a non-league game on Saturday at the Fairfax State Preview Classic against Orange Lutheran.
17. (17) Santa Monica 15-4
Trailing 58-48 with just four minutes to go, the Vikings staged a huge late comeback to defeat Beverly Hills 63-62 in Ocean League play last week. Trailing by one, it was senior Chris Smith who hit a jumper with seconds remaining for the game’s winning points. Santa Monica then ended the week with a 67-50 road win against Morningside of Inglewood. Other than their game at Beverly Hills, the Vikings have a good chance to end the regular season without another loss as they face Hawthorne on Wednesday before a non-league game against Compton.
18. (20) Westchester (Los Angeles) 17-5
Finally, here’s a team that got to move up in this week’s rankings and it’s the Comets. They do it after enjoying a productive week on the road, including a 69-60 win over Palisades and a 65-64 win over Fairfax of Los Angeles to hand both teams their first losses in Western League action. After a basket with 20 seconds left by Fairfax, the Comets responded with a game-winning layup by Nick Hamilton with eight seconds remaining to pull out the narrow victory to cap their perfect 3-0 week. Trying not to look ahead to their game against Mater Dei of Santa Ana in two weeks, Westchester will face University of Los Angeles and LACES of Los Angeles this week.
19. (NR) St. Augustine (San Diego) 14-3
Coach Mike Haupt’s Saints are the highest-ranked newcomer this week as they doubled their winning streak from three games to six with wins over Scripps Ranch of San Diego, Mission Bay of San Diego and Torrey Pines of San Diego. They have lost to No. 3 Sheldon of Sacramento and twice against previously No. 18 Cathedral Catholic of San Diego but they do have a win over Army-Navy of Carlsbad, which knocked off the Dons last week. Earlier in the year, they also defeated No. 8 Salesian of Richmond and bubble team J.W. North of Riverside. Their stay in the top 20 could be a short one, though, if they lose for the third time this season to Cathedral Catholic in a game this Thursday.
20. (NR) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 17-3
Since ending 2012 with a loss, the Eagles have yet to suffer defeat in 2013 as they have now won seven in a row after defeating Folsom 57-27 and Jesuit of Carmichael 63-48 in Delta River League contest. Malik Thames leads the team averaging 18.2 points per game while senior Matthew Hayes is one of two others to average in double figures averaging 14.4 points per game. Pleasant Grove also will have a chance to earn a big boost up in next week’s rankings if it can keep the winning streak going in Friday’s battle at home against No. 3 Sheldon of Sacramento in what will now be a battle between top 20 ranked teams.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 18 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), No. 19 West Ranch (Valencia).
Teams on the Bubble:
Alemany (Mission Hills) 14-6
Bellarmine (San Jose) 13-3
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 17-3
Chaminade (West Hills) 15-5
Crespi (Encino) 16-6
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 13-6
J.W. North (Riverside) 17-3
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 16-3
Leuzinger (Lawndale) 16-4
Mission Viejo 19-2
Modesto Christian 16-2
Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 19-2
Orange Lutheran 16-4
Price (Los Angeles) 19-3
San Leandro 14-4
Serra (Gardena) 16-5
Serra (San Mateo) 14-3
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 17-3
West Ranch (Valencia) 14-5
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