Serra of Gardena is the week’s only newcomer in a week of few changes. That should change next week because four of the top 10 could be facing off in the CIFSS Division I-AA quarterfinals. One top 20 team also gets inexplicable low seed in its section playoffs.
By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
(Updated through games played Saturday, Feb. 16; previous ranking in
1. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 25-2
The Jackrabbits, seeded No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs, had no trouble against Palmdale in their playoff opener. Enjoying a huge height advantage, Poly’s starting unit shot over 82 percent from the field (19-of-23) in an easy 84-38 running clock victory. Mr. Basketball candidate Roschon Prince led the way with 24 points. Now the competition stiffens right away, as predicted, when the brackets were released. Poly faces 22-5 Mayfair of Lakewood at home Tuesday and it’s hard not to look ahead to a potential monster quarterfinal matchup with No. 11 Loyola that could be played on Friday.
2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 27-1
As the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs, the Monarchs breezed in their opening round matchup against Roosevelt of Eastvale. Mr. Basketball candidate Stanley Johnson led the way with 18 points while senior reserve James McGee added 17 in the 83-48 victory. In the second round on Tuesday, Mater Dei will face 22-5 Warren of Downey and it will be a real surprise if the Bears stay within double digits. A potential quarterfinal matchup against the winner of Rancho Verde/Chino Hills will be another game where the Monarchs will be heavy favorites.
3. (3) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 28-0
The Knights, top seeded in the CIFSS Division IV-AA playoffs, had no trouble with their first two postseason foes. Coach Doug Mitchell’s team routed Whittier Christian, 101-36, as Pepperdine commit Lamond Murray Jr. led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Murray Jr., who Waves’ assistant coach Jason Hart raves about in terms on work ethic, was again the catalyst in the 86-45 second round win over Twentynine Palms. The son of the former NBA forward and Kennedy of Fremont standout finished with 29 points and eight rebounds. Lightening quick 5-foot-6 guard Justin Bibbins added 10 steals and 15 points against Twentynine Palms. The competition will get tougher this week as the Knights hit the road to face 18-10 Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood, which is battle-tested having competed against the likes of Loyola in the tough Mission League.
4. (4) Salesian (Richmond) 26-3
Jabari Bird celebrated his selection to the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game by scoring 16 points to help the Pride roll past El Cerrito 65-51 in the Tri-County Rock Athletic League championship. Earlier in the league playoffs, Salesian was just as impressive against St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo (83-46) and St. Mary’s of Berkeley (80-50). The defending Division IV state champions open the CIF North Coast Section Division IV playoffs Wednesday vs. Gateway of San Francisco. They are heavy favorites to win at the D4 section level, and then look like a cinch to get moved up to the CIF Northern California Open Division playoffs.
5. (5) Sheldon (Sacramento) 21-5
The Huskies closed out the regular season with a bang, completing an unbeaten slate through the Delta River League courtesy of a 84-77 victory over previous No. 20 Pleasant Grove. Pleasant Grove lost only two league games, both to Sheldon. Mr. Basketball candidate Dakarai Allen came through with a great all-around performance (27 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three blocks) while Washington-bound Darin Johnson netted 23 points. When Allen is on his game (like he was against Pleasant Grove and at December’s Torrey Pines Holiday Classic), Sheldon is awfully tough to beat. Coach Joey Rollings’ club will open the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division I playoffs on Wednesday against 14-13 Bear Creek of Stockton.
6. (6) Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga) 23-3
Sheldon Blackwell and Jordan McLaughlin both hit for 13 points as Etiwanda mopped up Highland of Palmdale 73-39 in the CIFSS Division I-AA playoffs. The Eagles are set to meet Great Oak of Temecula in Tuesday’s second round. A win in that game would then likely set up a monster quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 state-ranked Centennial of Corona.
7. (7) Centennial (Corona) 26-2
The Huskies beat pesky Jordan of Long Beach 84-69 to open the postseason in the CIFSS Division I-AA bracket. They only led 32-29 at halftime but gained separation with a 27-17 edge in the third quarter. Deontae North sparked the surge and ended with 27 points and 18 rebounds. Centennial is favored to win its next playoff game against Silverado of Victorville. After that, a likely third game this season with No. 6 Etiwanda would occur. The Huskies won the first of those matchups, but lost in the second.
8. (8) Bullard (Fresno) 24-2
Jarred Morrill topped the scoring with 17 points as the Knights beat Edison of Fresno 73-63 to close out the regular season. They won their fourth straight County/Metro Athletic Conference title and will take an 11-game win streak into the CIF Central Section Division I playoffs. Edison’s only two league losses were to Bullard and could have forced a co-title situation with a win. As defending champion, the Knights were awarded the top seed and first-round bye in this year’s section playoffs.
9. (9) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 23-3
The Dragons were pushed to the limit by Castro Valley in their Hayward Area Athletic League finale and held on for a 68-65 win. They needed almost every one of Ivan Rabb’s 40 points to get the victory. Too bad that Castro Valley’s effort wasn’t rewarded with that team getting a CIF North Coast Section playoff berth. Earlier in the week, O’Dowd also had another tough game and beat San Leandro 64-57. The team has been seeded No. 1 in the NCS Division III playoffs and has a first-round bye. After the section playoffs, this is another team from the NCS (along with Salesian and possibly De La Salle) that seems ticketed for the CIF Northern California Open Division.
10. (10) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 21-6
McDonald’s All-American Isaac Hamilton had one of his best outings of the season for the Braves with 35 points when they dominated Burroughs of Ridgecrest 91-46 in the CIFSS Division III-A playoffs. Hamilton hit eight 3-pointers to help account for his total. Earlier in the week, coach Derrick Taylor’s club routed Buena Park 78-35 in its playoff opener. Up next for the Braves is Cathedral of Los Angeles.
11. (11) Loyola (Los Angeles) 21-6
Junior point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright may be rounding into shape after an injury and that’s bad news for the rest of the CIFSS Division I-AA playoff field. PJC had 12 points to go with Trey Mason’s 13 in last week’s 86-45 win over Montebello in the team’s first playoff game. Loyola gets a dangerous Pasadena team in the second round and if it wins would likely face No. 1 Long Beach Poly in the quarterfinals. Between the Cubs, Poly, No. 6 Etiwanda and No. 7 Corona Centennial, two excellent teams that have been ranked in the top 10 of the state for a majority of the season won’t make it to its section semifinal.
12. (12) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 26-2
The Conquistadors opened the CIF L.A. City Section Division I playoffs with a resounding victory over Canoga Park and it will be a major upset if they don’t advance to the title game. ECR defeated the Hunters 64-20 in a game in which Conquistadors’ head coach David Rebibo substituted liberally. No. 10 seed and quarterfinalist Narbonne of Harbor City checks in with a 15-11 record and No. 2 seed ECR may not face serious competition until the semifinal. There the Conquistadors could meet No. 3 seed Crenshaw of Los Angeles, a team that features a 1-2 scoring punch as good as any in the section — seniors Andre Edwards and Mica Wynn.
13. (13) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 22-5
Despite McDonald’s All-American Aaron Gordon having to sit for most of the first half in foul trouble, the Monarchs still pulled out to a 19-point lead over state-ranked Serra of San Mateo and went on to beat the Padres 69-50 in the West Catholic Athletic League playoff title game. Connor Peterson stepped up on offense and finished with 13 points. Gordon had 12 points and nine rebounds. Mitty won’t defend its CIF Central Coast Section Division II title because the team instead has been seeded No. 1 in the first CCS Open Division playoffs. The Monarchs will play Soquel in its first-round game on Friday. It’s highly unlikely they will lose, but if they do the new CCS Open Division bracket will include a consolation bracket as well. All CCS Open Division teams also have been guaranteed a spot in the NorCal regional playoffs. Mitty also has therefore pretty much been guaranteed a spot in the CIF NorCal open division playoffs.
14. (15) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 25-3
The Eagles, No. 2 seed in the CIFSS Division IV-A playoffs behind Alpha League rival Pacific Hills, recorded two easy wins to open the postseason and move up a spot in this week’s ratings. Coach Moose Bailey’s team next faces 20-8 St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Brown-bound Leland King continues to perform like an all-state player. He scored 26 points in Brentwood’s 72-45 opening round win over Malibu and scored as many points as the entire St. Monica’s of Santa Monica team did in the Eagles’ 70-31 second round victory.
15. (16) Windward (Los Angeles) 20-8
After jumping into the top 20 last week, coach Miguel Villegas’ club opened the CIFSS Division IV-AA playoffs with two impressive victories and moves up a spot this week along with its two Alpha League rivals. The guards did most of the damage in the Wildcats’ 66-55 opening round win over Ribet Academy of Los Angeles. Northern Colorado-bound Jordan Wilson and Stefan Toskovic combined for 36 points. Windward then dominated inside in a 77-51 second round win over Oaks Christian. Sophomore forwards Mason Shepard and Roy Hemsley combined for 24 points as the Lions were outmuscled on the boards. Windward will have a chance to avenge one of its losses when it wasn’t at full strength in the quarterfinals against La Verne Lutheran. The Trojans beat Windward 54-45 on December 12.
16. (17) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 21-4
The Bruins were one of the few teams in the massive CIF Southern Section that received a first round bye as a top seed in their respective playoff division. The extra practice time probably did coach Ivan Barahona’s team some good, as it defeated Marshall of Pasadena 104-41 in the second round. Pac Hills’ potent three guard attack played excellent to open the postseason, as Washington-bound Jahmel Taylor scored 25 points, Rice-bound Marcus Jackson netted 22 and Namon Wright, one of the state’s top juniors, added 23. The Bruins face 14-13 St. Bonaventure of Ventura in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.
17. (18) Westchester (Los Angeles) 25-6
The top seed in the L.A. City Section Division I playoffs had no trouble in its playoff opener against Fremont of Los Angeles and moves up one position in this week’s rankings. Six-foot-2 senior guard Bacari Green led the way with 20 points, while Matthew Grant and Elijah Stewart combined to score 24 points. Next up in the quarterfinals is 13-13 Taft of Woodland Hills with a potential semifinal game likely against a Western League rival: No. 4 seed Palisades or No. 5 Fairfax of Los Angeles.
18. (14) Serra (San Mateo) 23-4
The Padres slide down four spots this week after losing to No. 14 Archbishop Mitty 69-50 in the WCAL title game. If the game was a bit closer, perhaps they wouldn’t have fallen as much, but they still deserve to be in front of De La Salle in the NorCal pecking order since two of their four losses are to the Monarchs and they have beaten them once. Earlier in the week, coach Chuck Rapp’s squad won WCAL playoffs games over St. Francis of Mountain View (73-54) and Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco (71-60). Despite the loss, Serra was awarded the No. 2 seed in the new CCS Open Division and will meet El Camino of South San Francisco in the first round. Unlike Mitty, however, Serra is not eligible for the NorCal open division and would be in the NorCal Division II bracket instead. The only way Serra can be in the open division for the regional playoffs is by requesting to move up into those playoffs.
19. (19) De La Salle (Concord) 23-3
Although the Spartans eased past Granada of Livermore 83-56 and California of San Ramon 55-29 to close their regular season, they only received a No. 3 seed in the CIF North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Since they have a head-to-head loss to Deer Valley of Antioch, not getting seeded No. 1 isn’t too much of a surprise. It makes no sense, however, that San Leandro was seeded No. 1 and Deer Valley No. 2. San Leandro (21-5) has a loss to Monte Vista of Danville, a team that the Spartans handily defeated recently in avenging one of their own losses. Plus, San Leandro has a loss to Berkeley compared to De La Salle only having losses to Deer Valley, Salesian of Richmond and Monte Vista. All three of the top seeds, including the Spartans, have a bye in the first-round of those playoffs. Too bad that a DLS-Deer Valley rematch would be in the semis and not the finals.
20. (NR) Serra (Gardena) 22-6
The Cavaliers join the top 20 fray in place of Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove, which lost for the second time last week to No. 5 Sheldon. We also seriously considered Division II teams La Costa Canyon and J.W. North, but Serra has the best combination of quality wins and tough games coming up. Both LCC and J.W. North also have some early stinker losses, whereas Serra only has one loss to a team not ranked in the top 20 (Alemany of Mission Hills). Serra defeated Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, 56-44, in the opening round of the loaded CIFSS Division IV-AA playoffs and came back to beat Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth 60-55 two nights later. Fast-rising junior Travion Dawson netted 16 points against Sierra Canyon, as Serra made 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. Next up for the Cavs is talented JSerra of San Juan Capistrano at home.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 20 Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove).
Teams on the Bubble:
Army-Navy (Carlsbad) 23-4
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 24-3
Chaminade (West Hills) 22-6
Crespi (Encino) 21-8
Deer Valley (Antioch) 21-5
Independence (Bakersfield) 28-1
J.W. North (Riverside) 24-3
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 24-4
Mission Viejo 25-3
Modesto Christian 24-3
Newark Memorial (Newark) 19-7
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 21-5
Price (Los Angeles) 24-3
Rancho Cucamonga 24-4
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 19-8
San Leandro 21-5
Serra (Gardena) 22-6
St. Augustine (San Diego) 21-4
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 25-3
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