By Ronnie Flores
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 Tuesday.
(Updated through games played Saturday, Jan. 12; previous ranking in
1. (1) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 15-1
The top-ranked Jackrabbits won three Moore League games last week to remain unbeaten against California teams so far season. The Jackrabbits are ranked No. 3 by the Los Angeles Times behind two unbeaten teams (Mater Dei and Bishop Montgomery) and are also ranked behind Mater Dei in some national polls we’ve seen. That doesn’t make much sense to us, though, since the Jackrabbits were the consensus No. 1 team in the state to start the season and the team they lost to (Montverde Academy of Florida) is one of the most talented high school teams we’ve seen in recent memory. In league play last week, Poly defeated Long Beach Jordan (86-46), Long Beach Millikan (85-68) and Compton (65-49). Forwards Roshcon Prince and Jordan Bell combined for 37 points against Compton, a talented team that is underachieving so far this season.
2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 18-0
The Monarchs had a big week with two Trinity League victories, the first coming in a showdown against state-ranked St. John Bosco on the road facing a lively crowd. When it was all said and done, Mater Dei pulled out a 79-67 victory and junior forward Stanley Johnson showed why he’s quickly emerging as one of the nation’s best players regardless of class. He dominated with his offensive skills, strength and overall leadership ability that he learned as a role player his first two seasons. Johnson had 25 points, 21 rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot and Gary McKnight’s role players did a good job defensively on St. John Bosco’s talented group of offensive players. Two nights later, McKnight’s 6-foot-7 standout had 29 points, five steals and three blocks in a 75-59 win over Orange Lutheran. Mater Dei has two eague games this week before traveling to play St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio on MLK Monday. That happens to be the school where the Monarchs’ Elijah Brown attended before he moved to California when his father, Mike, was named head coach of the Lakers.
3. (3) Sheldon (Sacramento) 12-4
The defending Northern California Division I champions won three games last week as the team looks to jell for the post-season after overcoming injuries and easing new players into the lineup. Coach Joey Rollings’ club defeated Folsom (78-39) and Jesuit of Carmichael (69-42) in Delta River League action before hosting state-ranked Bullard of Fresno in an intriguing intersectional match up. Sheldon got a career game from forward Ryan Manning and a good game from power guard D’Erryl Williams to beat the visitors 85-74. Manning, the son of 1988 Division III State Player of the Year Rich Manning, had five 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 29 points. Williams, meanwhile, finished with 15 points and made some clutch driving lay-ups to hold off Bullard after battling a bout with food poisoning. Washington-bound Darin Johnson added 15 points and five rebounds for the Huskies, who have another big non-league game next weekend at home against No. 15 Deer Valley.
4. (4) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 19-0
The Knights are another top-ranked team that won two important league games and a key non-league showdown last week. They opened with a 74-44 victory over Bishop Amat of La Puente and came back two nights later to defeat a talented Serra of Gardena club 58-34. Serra held a 29-27 lead midway through the third quarter before Bishop Montgomery turned up the defensive intensity to go on a 15-0 run while holding the Cavs to five points over the game’s final 12 minutes. Sophomore Stevie Thompson Jr. netted 19 points and Pepperdine-bound Lamond Murray Jr. added 16 points as the Knights defeated Serra on the road for the first time since the 2006-07 season. On Saturday night, Bishop Montgomery hit the road and never trailed in its 74-63 victory over St. John Bosco in a match up of teams ranked No. 1 in separate CIF state divisions. The Division IV Knights got a big game from stretch forward Ognjen Milijkovic, who netted 23 points, including a 3-pointer when Bosco pulled to within three points (62-59). Bishop Montgomery, which stays in league play this week, also got a big contribution from diminutive guard Justin Bibbins (nine points and five assists) after senior guard Larry Taylor III sat out with a minor injury.
5. (6) Loyola (Los Angeles) 13-2
After winning two key Mission League games last week, the Cubs move up one spot. Last week, we debated whether to keep the Cubs in the same No. 5 position after losing twice at the MaxPreps Tournament, but ultimately decided to move up St. John Bosco because of the big games the Braves had on their docket last week. After defeating previous No. 17 Chaminade 62-61 and dispatching St. Francis of La Canada 70-33, the Cubs are now indeed in the top five after Bosco lost twice. Making the Chaminade win even more impressive was that Loyola won without point guard Jackson Parker-Cartwright, who will be sidelined indefinitely until coach Jamal Adams feels a lingering ankle sprain has fully healed. Junior center Thomas Welch scored on a pretty feed from Max Hazzard with 1:19 remaining to seal the road win over Chaminade as Thomas Lapham stepped up in JPC’s absence by hitting three 3-pointers.
6. (7) Centennial (Corona) 17-1
Some of the romps that the Huskies will have in Big VIII League play are going to be reminiscent of what they often do in football. They picked up league wins last week of 84-59 against Corona and 70-29 over Norco. Sam Finley popped in 20 points with sophomore Sedrick Barefield adding 18 in the win over the Cougars. This week’s games will be against M.L. King of Riverside and Roosevelt of Eastvale.
7. (8) Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga) 12-2
Yes, we know that Etiwanda’s loss to Centennial came without standout Jordan McLaughlin in the lineup. Still, it looks like the Huskies have more overall quality wins. McLaughlin had a team-high 17 points in a 60-37 win over Beverly Hills that capped a 3-0 week. The other wins came over Upland (53-44) and Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga (89-40). This week’s schedule will conclude with another Saturday non-league matchup, this one against Eisenhower of Rialto.
8. (9) Bullard (Fresno) 13-2
Coach Tony Amundsen’s club moves up one spot despite a loss to No. 3 Sheldon because previous No. 5 St. John Bosco should now be behind Salesian of Richmond and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and Bullard has a win over Salesian. Corey Silverstrom had 26 points in the loss to Sheldon. Before heading to Sacramento, the Knights maintained their dominance in the CIF Central Section by defeated Clovis 88-45. This week, they have a game against San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno (alma mater of NBA players Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez and Quincy Pondexter).
9. (10) Salesian (Richmond) 12-3
The Pride won two games last week and have four on tap this week, including one against a De La Salle of Concord team that has traditionally fared well in its own MLK showcase. That game will be next Monday at Haas Pavilion on the campus of UC Berkeley. In a 72-42 win over Pinole Valley of Pinole that ended last week, future Golden Bear Jabari Bird knocked in 24 points while Jermaine Edmonds Jr. hit for 14. Another of this week’s matchups will be against defending Division V NorCal champ St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda.
10. (11) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 11-3
There was some consideration to move up Mitty in front of Bullard because of the way that the Monarchs have been winning games in the tough West Cahtolic Athletic League and since they have an early win over Sheldon (which just beat Bullard). However, the team’s more recent 19-point loss to Salesian takes precedence. The Monarchs trailed Serra of San Mateo 41-36 in a big WCAL game last week, but went on a 20-2 run to start the fourth quarter en route to a 60-50 victory. All-American Aaron Gordon had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Gordon’s presence will be watched closely this weekend when Mitty travels to the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., where it will play in a televised game against nationally ranked Lone Peak of Utah.
11. (5) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 11-3
The Braves drop six spots this week after losing games to No. 2 Mater Dei and No. 4 Bishop Montgomery. It’s the third loss to Inglewood that caused us to put the Braves behind Mitty and Salesian, but they remain in front of Bishop O’Dowd because their overall body of work and strength of schedule is still a bit stronger. St. John Bosco will look to regroup at the Bass Pro Tourney of Champions in Springfield, Mo., plus there are three consecutive contests at the end of the month against Loyola, Mater Dei, and Long Beach Poly. Go-to player Isaac Hamilton played well against both Mater Dei and Bishop Montgomery, but if the Braves don’t fix their careless turnovers, overall shot selection and fourth quarter free throw shooting woes, they won’t live up to their preseason ranking.
12. (12) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 11-3
Super sophomore Ivan Rabb nabbed 24 rebounds to go with 25 points and four blocks in a monster effort to lead the Dragons past Berkeley 76-73. Earlier in the week, O’Dowd topped Mt. Eden of Hayward 79-64. Coming into that game, the Monarchs were 11-1. This week, the Dragons face San Leandro and Castro Valley in a pair of Hayward Area Athletic League games and then on Monday they’ll get talented Sacramento in the MLK Classic at Haas Pavilion.
13. (13) Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 13-2
This week sees the Bruins face No. 14 Brentwood of Los Angeles in one of the state’s biggest games. They also will play new No. 19 West Ranch of Valencia on MLK Day. Pacific Hills was tested last week, too, with wins against Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (81-69), Windward of Los Angeles (71-68) and Campbell Hall of North Hollywood (61-53). Jahmel Taylor sliced and diced for 24 points in the win against Windward. Making the win more impressive is that standout Marcus Jackson sat out with an ankle injury.
14. (14) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 15-1
Senior Leland King and junior Tra Holder both went for 17 points as the Eagles capped a 3-0 week by beating Crossroads of Santa Monica 75-40. They won earlier over Viewpoint of Calabasas (93-69) and Sierra Canyon (71-65). King and Holder will probably have to rack up even more points in this week’s showdown against No. 13 Pacific Hills. They also should have a tough game on MLK Day against Windward of Los Angeles.
15. (15) Deer Valley (Antioch) 12-3
The Wolverines won two league games last week, first topping Bethel of Vallejo 85-79 and then downing Pittsburg 69-51. The Bethel game was perhaps closer than anticipated, but with Kendall Smith (27 points) and Marcus Lee (22 points, 25 rebounds) continuing to shine the outcome was assured. Perhaps the boys were looking ahead to this week as well. In addition to two league games, the Wolverines travel to play No. 3 Sheldon on Saturday and then on Monday go up against 2012 NorCal D2 finalist Newark Memorial in the MLK Classic at Haas Pavilion.
16. (18) El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 16-2
Hawaii-bound Michael Thomas netted 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Conquistadors romped past Lincoln of San Diego 60-42 in the San Diego/L.A. Challenge. Although Lincoln is reeling due to the loss of standout Tyree Robinson with a broken foot, ECR still moves up two positions this week and is beginning to look like the impressive unit we saw last summer. This week’s games will be against Chatsworth and Granada Hills.
17. (19) Santa Monica 13-4
With a win last week over Inglewood, SaMoHi has now done enough to be in front of Chaminade despite a head-to-head loss because that team lost twice last week. Jordan Matthews made a game-winning free throw with 10 seconds left and scored 20 points in the 58-57 victory against the Sentinels. The Vikings also won last week 78-52 over Culver City. Santa Monica’s games this week will be at home vs. Beverly Hills and on the road vs. Morningside of Inglewood.
18. (20) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 15-2
The Dons continued to win last week and no other team deserves to hop them at this time. In a 75-28 rocking chair outing against University City, senior Brandon Michel led the way with 16 points and 10 steals. Two of the three games this week should provide stiffer competition, especially the matchup on MLK Day against Army-Navy of Carlsbad, which also has been among the top five in recent weeks in the CIF San Diego Section rankings.
19. (NR) West Ranch (Valencia) 12-4
It’s time to move in Wildcats, who get the nod over Westchester for this position since they have only one bad loss (56-35 to talented Rancho Verde) and just knocked out Hart of Newhall from the ranks of the unbeaten. The 70-63 triumph over the Indians was fueled by Northern Arizona-bound Ako Kaluna (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Kevin Harris (18 points, eight assists). West Ranch faced Saugus and Golden Valley in its next two Foothill League games, then on MLK Day will get to play No. 13 Pacific Hills.
20. (NR) Westchester (Los Angeles) 14-5
The Comets edge St. Augustine of San Diego for the final spot as they look like a potential finalist in the L.A. City Section opposite El Camino Real. This team is still a year away from being at the elite level, but has enough quality wins to offset a loss to St. Anthony of Long Beach. In a 81-37 triumph last week against Venice, Elijah Stewart had 19 points. This week, Westchester plays arch-rival Fairfax for the first of two Western League showdowns.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 16 De La Salle (Concord), No. 17 Chaminade (West Hills).
Teams on the Bubble:
Alemany (Mission Hills) 12-5
Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-3
Chaminade (West Hills) 13-4
De La Salle (Concord) 12-2
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 11-5
Hoover (San Diego) 17-3
J.W. North (Riverside) 15-3
Mission Viejo 16-2
Modesto Christian 12-2
Monte Vista (Danville) 12-3
Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 17-2
Orange Lutheran 15-3
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 15-3
Price (Los Angeles) 16-3
San Leandro 12-3
Serra (Gardena) 13-4
Serra (San Mateo) 12-3
St. Augustine (San Diego) 11-3
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 16-2
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