Nike Extravaganza outcomes create some movement in this week’s rankings, with participant De La Salle of Concord and fellow NorCal program Serra of San Mateo the newcomers after big wins on Saturday night. Unbeaten Bishop Montgomery goes up a spot as well.
By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
(Updated through games played Saturday, Feb. 2; previous ranking in
1. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 22-2
We evaluated the Jackrabbits twice in person last week and among the state’s elite teams they might have the best blend of what it takes to win four or five big consecutive games in a row. It’s going to be a brutal road to the first CIF Open Division state title and Poly has got to like its chances. It doesn’t play on-the-ball defense quite like Etiwanda, but the Jackrabbits get after it defensively. Poly doesn’t shoot as well as Loyola or have the offensive firepower of St. John Bosco, but its guards are improving and can hit open shots when they run the offense. The ‘Rabbits also don’t have to rely heavily on one player the way Mater Dei does. What Poly does have is a solid all-around unit, good rebounding and not one, but two, elite finishers in Jordan Bell and Roschon Prince. When the ‘Rabbits’ defense creates fast break opportunities it’s going to be hard for a California team to beat them. After dispatching Compton (64-44) and Lakewood (71-37) last week, Prince and Bell combined for 34 points and 18 rebounds in the Jackrabbits’ 60-54 victory over No. 10 St. John Bosco. Poly committed only six turnovers.
2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 24-1
The Monarchs are another team we evaluated twice last week. Gary McKnight’s crew again looked like world-beaters in its second victory over St. John Bosco. The 82-71 final score is not indicative of how much the Monarchs dominated. Mr. Basketball candidate Stanley Johnson shined with 31 points, 12 rebounds and three steals as Mater Dei claimed its 25th consecutive league title. St. John Bosco coach Derrick Taylor told the Orange County Register Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers via St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J.) is the only other player (besides Stanley Johnson) one of his teams ever faced where it simply had no answer. After a 78-63 win over Eisenhower of Rialto on Friday night, the Monarchs didn’t play their best on Saturday night against state-ranked Westchester. The Monarchs made only 4-of-15 on 3-point attempts, but again Johnson made an impact with 21 points (even though he missed 7-of-18 free throws) and 16 rebounds. If Westchester would have made more free throws (18-of-30), Mater Dei might have suffered a rare home loss.
3. (4) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 25-0
The Knights remain unbeaten and only have to beat sub a .500 St. Bernard of Playa del Rey team this week to finish the regular season unbeaten. They opened the week with an impressive 72-66 win over Gardena of Serra, which knocked the Cavs out of this week’s top 20 and helped the Knights move up one spot. In the Knights’ third victory of the season over Serra. Lamond Murray Jr. led the way with 17 points while Larry Taylor III added 14 points, including 10 in the third quarter when Bishop Montgomery built its lead to as big as 16 points. In their second game of the week two nights later, the Knights defeated La Salle of Pasadena 84-55. Now the next big question for this team is if coach Doug Mitchell requests to have his team placed in the CIF’s new open division. That reportedly will depend first on the team winning the CIF Southern Section Division IVAA title.
4. (6) Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga) 21-2
With previous No. 4 Sheldon of Sacramento and previous No. 5 Corona Centennial both losing last week, the Eagles move up two spots this week. It could be argued that Etiwanda should have already been in front of Centennial since those clubs have split games with Etiwanda’s victory coming while highly-regarded junior guard Jordan McLaughlin was out with an injury. Etiwanda was at full strength, and then some, at the Nike Extravaganza as the Eagles completely dispatched previous No. 11 Loyola 51-24. Loyola was without big-time junior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, but it was as complete a defensive performance as we’ve seen in a long time. Loyola shot 27 percent from the field, committed 18 turnovers and didn’t score more than five points in any of the last three quarters of the game. Earlier in the week, Etiwanda’s team defense was in full effect in Baseline League wins over Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga (61-42) and Alta Loma (67-22).
5. (8) Salesian (Richmond) 21-3
Cal-bound Jabari Bird had one of his best outings of the season with 22 points and eight rebounds as the Pride topped previous No. 3 Sheldon of Sacramento 69-60 in what could be the preview of a rematch in the first CIF Northern California Open Division championship. Markel Leonard also did well against the Huskies with 14 points. With the win, Salesian moves up three spots in this week’s rankings, hopping a Bullard of Fresno team it lost to early in the season. The win over Sheldon also upped the team’s current winning streak to 11 games, which includes another key win over state-ranked De La Salle of Concord. Coach Bill Mellis’ team closes the regular season this week with matchups against St. Mary’s of Berkeley and De Anza of Richmond. The Tri-County Rock League playoffs would be up after that.
6. (3) Sheldon (Sacramento) 18-5
The Huskies fall three spots after their 69-60 loss to Salesian of Richmond. Dakarai Allen did the best for the team in that game with 16 points and six rebounds. Sheldon does not drop any further in the rankings due to owning a head-to-head win over Bullard of Fresno and because it has played a tougher schedule than Centennial of Corona, which was No. 5 last week and also lost a game. The Huskies, who also beat Folsom (77-59) and Jesuit of Carmichael (80-56) last week, take on Ponderosa of Shingle Springs and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills in this week’s games.
7. (5) Centennial (Corona) 23-2
In what has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season in the state so far, the Huskies dropped a Big VIII League contest last week to M.L. King of Riverside 75-71. This was a team that Centennial beat 98-54 earlier in the season. Sedrick Barefield had 33 points in that first meeting, but was held to 10. Sam Finley picked up the slack, though, and finished with 28. Since the Huskies are still comfortably ahead in the Big VIII League, since they beat the Wolves so easily the first time and since they still own a win over Bullard of Fresno, it was decided in this week’s rankings to only drop them two positions. A third loss, however, could mean a huge fall. Centennial plays Roosevelt of Eastvale and Santiago of Corona in this week’s games.
8. (7) Bullard (Fresno) 20-2
The Knights, whose staff attended the Nike Extravaganza to scout potential regional playoff opponents, stayed local this past week, defeating two foes in County/Metro Athletic Conference play. In the overall rankings picture, however, Bullard fell a spot this week. Why, you ask when they beat Salesian early in the season? Salesian is now getting hot and just beat the Sheldon team Bullard lost to. Plus, Bullard still has a head-to-head loss to Corona Centennial. Edison of Fresno entered last week’s game at Bullard unbeaten in Conference play – just as Bullard was - and gave the Knights all they could handle. Bullard closed the game with a 14-8 advantage to pull out a 66-61 victory as senior guard Corey Silverstrom came up big down the stretch after going scoreless in the first half. He finished with 14 points, including two free throws with just under 15 seconds remaining to account for the final margin. Two nights later, coach Tony Amundsen’s club easily rolled past Madera South, 74-26.
9. (12) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 18-3
Due to other teams losing, the Dragons get to jump up three positions in this week’s rankings. It was cruise city in their games, first 69-26 against Alameda and later 72-56 over San Lorenzo. Top scorers against the Rebels were Ivan Rabb with 17 points and Russell Davis with 12 points. After playing Mt. Eden of Hayward and Berkeley in league games this week, O’Dowd will face Modesto Christian of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section in a big non-league matchup on Saturday.
10. (9) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 17-6
It was a difficult week for the Braves, as they dropped two games and went through some in-house issues. They drop only one spot for two reasons. First, the two losses were against the two top-ranked teams in the state — No. 2 Mater Dei (82-71) and No. 1 Long Beach Poly (60-54) — and Bosco was coming off a win against No. 11 Loyola at the Fairfax State Preview. Against Mater Dei, the Braves against didn’t have an answer for Stanley Johnson. Against Poly, St. John Bosco was without Isaac Hamilton, who was suspended indefinitely by coach Derrick Taylor. The usually mild-mannered Hamilton has been increasingly frustrated with the results of Bosco’s games and the team’s play and the season is reaching a boiling point where it’s time for the team to come together or potentially throw it away. Taylor is trying to get that message across and the Braves have two more regular season games to right the ship.
11. (11) Loyola (Los Angeles) 18-6
The Cubs’ 51-24 loss can be viewed a few different ways. Etiwanda perhaps is just that much better, but it can also be argued point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright is that much of a difference-maker for his team. There is no doubt the junior point guard elevates the play of all his teammates. For coach Jamal Adams, he will turn the negative into a positive because of the experience some of his bench players are getting in Jackson-Cartwright’s absence and because it was just one result against a non-league foe. From a rankings standpoint, you can’t over value one result because the Cubs also won two important Mission League games last week against St. Francis of La Canada (55-44) and Crespi of Encino (53-46) and still own many quality wins over teams such as No. 12 Brentwood. Adams’ crew closes out its regular season with Mission League games against Harvard-Westlake and Alemany of Mission Hills as it seeks favorable positioning in the CIFSS Division IAA playoffs.
12. (13) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 22-2
After moving in front of Pacific Hills last week, Brentwood showed the move was justified as Brown-bound forward Leland King had a huge week to lead the Eagles to three wins and a one-spot bump in the rankings. Moose Bailey’s club opened the week with a 81-71 win over Pac Hills, as junior point guard Tra Holder and King combined to score 50 points in a game Brentwood led by as much as 20 points before Pac Hills went on a 14-2 run in the third quarter to make a game of it. Two nights later, Brentwood downed Viewpoint of Calabasas 60-47 as King had 30 points and 17 rebounds. King closed out his week with a 38-point performance in a 83-78 overtime win over Campbell Hall that kept Bentwood in sole possession of first place in the Alpha League.
13. (14) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 23-2
All the stars for the Conquistadors came with their “A” game during last week’s 86-51 triumph against Birmingham of Lake Balboa. Julian Richardson knocked down 26 points with seven rebounds, Michael Thomas netted 25 points with 11 boards while Maleke Haynes rang up 10 points and 10 assists. The boys also rolled past Chatsworth last week 64-15 in what had us double-checking numerous sources because it sounded like a girls score. Yes, that was the score. In this week’s games, ECR will close the regular season against Granada Hills and Taft of Woodland Hills.
14. (10) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 17-5
Despite 19 points and 22 rebounds from All-American Aaron Gordon, the Monarchs saw their 24-game West Catholic Athletic League win streak snapped in a 65-59 loss on the road at Serra of San Mateo, which is one of the toughest places to play in the Bay Area. Mitty drops four spots after that loss, but does own an earlier win over Serra (60-50) and also has posted more quality overall wins than either the Padres or No. 15 Deer Valley of Antioch. Mitty will face Valley Christian and Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco in this week’s games.
15. (15) Deer Valley (Antioch) 18-4
It was two solid wins last week for the Wolves, but there was nowhere to move them basically because we determined not to drop Mitty behind them. Deer Valley had to work for its wins, too. The 76-73 decision against Freedom of Oakley gave them first-place in the Bay Valley Athletic League behind Kendall Smith’s 21 points. A 66-63 verdict over Pittsburg, meanwhile, featured 26 points and 12 rebounds from Smith plus 18 points and 17 rebounds from Marcus Lee.
16. (16) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 19-4
The Bruins lost last week, but they don’t drop since the loss was to No. 12 Brentwood, a team they beat earlier in the season. They also posted wins last week against Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (70-53) and Paraclete of Lancaster (59-46). In addition to Brentwood, another team that Pacific Hills has a 1-1 record with is bubble team Windward of Los Angeles. This week, the boys end their regular season with a contest against Viewpoint of Calabasas.
17. (NR) Serra (San Mateo) 19-3
It was a huge week for the Padres, who followed up quality West Catholic Athletic League wins over Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco (65-56) and Bellarmine Prep of San Jose (62-52) with an even bigger one over previous No. 10 state-ranked Archbishop Mitty. The 65-59 home win also snapped Mitty’s 24-game WCAL win streak. Henry Caruso, bound for Princeton, had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Padres. Mitty is not the only team that Serra has avenged an earlier loss to in the last few weeks. The Padres also did it to Sacred Heart Cathedral. Their only other loss is to No. 15 Deer Valley by five points. Serra will try to avoid any letdowns this week against St. Ignatius of San Francisco or Valley Christian of San Jose.
18. (19) Hart (Newhall) 23-1
The Indians move up one position in this week’s rankings after beating Saugus (60-50) and Golden Valley of Santa Clarita (75-50) in last week’s games. While they have avenged their lone loss, which came to West Ranch of Valencia, it still has not been a strong overall schedule yet. Although the final score against Golden Valley was lopsided, Hart trailed 32-29 at halftime before going on a 20-10 and 26-8 blitz in second-half quarters. Lewis Stallworth sparked the uprising and ended with a game-high 28 points.
19. (17) Westchester (Los Angeles) 21-6
The Comets fall two spots this week, but deserve to remain in the top 20 as they played No. 2 Mater Dei tough on the road at the Nike Extravaganza. That result also came 24 hours after Westchester pounded Palisades 65-42. The win over Pali was impressive considering the Dolphins easily beat Fairfax in the first round of league play. Coach Ed Azzam was pleased withhis team’s defensive performance, particularly in a half-court setting, against Pali. Senior Matthew Grant scored a game-high 13 points against Palisades and was also the leading scorer in the close loss to Mater Dei (23 points).
20. (NR) De La Salle (Concord) 19-3
It’s tough to drop out both Mission Viejo and Serra of Gardena from the top 20, especially since Mission Viejo was without its best player at the Nike Extravaganza and Serra lost only 72-66 to No. 3 Bishop Montgomery. On the other hand, the Colony of Ontario team that Mission Viejo lost to was no where near top 20 level and the Diablos don’t have any significant wins they can point to that would justify leaving Serra of San Mateo or De La Salle out. Not only did Sparta avenge an earlier East Bay Athletic League loss to Monte Vista with a 54-42 victory last week, De La Salle easily dispatched one of Orange County’s better teams (Foothill of Santa Ana) at the Nike Extravaganza. Arizona-bound Elliott Pitts netted 24 points in the avenging win and 27 against Foothill.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 18 Mission Viejo, No. 20 Serra (Gardena).
Teams on the Bubble:
Army-Navy (Carlsbad) 19-4
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 20-3
Chaminade (West Hills) 18-6
Crespi (Encino) 18-8
J.W. North (Riverside) 21-3
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 20-4
Mission Viejo 22-3
Modesto Christian 21-2
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 19-4
Price (Los Angeles) 21-3
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 16-8
San Leandro 18-4
Serra (Gardena) 19-6
St. Augustine (San Diego) 17-4
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 21-3
Windward (Los Angeles) 16-8