Bishop Montgomery, Mayfair, Capital Christian and Cantwell Sacred Heart bump their way up from the preseason list with Mater Dei still on top. The next regular season boys basketball rankings will be done after the major holiday invitational tournaments. Also look for teams to get stronger after January 6 when a slew of transfers across the state become eligible.
Note: For this first regular season ranking, we’re going to present them with writeups. Once January rolls around, the extra info in the form of writeups, analysis and bubble teams will be for Gold Club members only. To become a Gold Club member and to see all of our great content (including state record updates), CLICK HERE.
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By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
(These are the first rankings of the 2013-14 regular season; updated through games played Saturday, Dec. 14; preseason rating in parentheses)
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 5-0
The Monarchs won the Diablo Inferno Tournament at Mission Viejo and are coming off an impressive win at the Hoophall West in Phoenix over Houston Yates. Here’s our take on Mater Dei: Yes, we know the program has suffered some personnel losses, but its culture of how it goes about winning games and what its goals are remain intact. There is no doubt Etiwanda and Loyola could be better, but we look at it like we do the football team at Concord De La Salle. With three consecutive state titles, Mater Dei will be No. 1 until a California team beats the Monarchs on the court. It’s that simple and with Stanley Johnson in the lineup, they will be tough to beat.
2. (2) Etiwanda 5-0
The Eagles already own a win over No. 5 Corona Centennial and showed the Midwest basketball community what they are all about with an impressive 72-68 victory over Kentucky-bound Tyler Ullis and his team at Marian Catholic of Chicago Heights at the Chicago Elite Classic. Now, we know most of the national rankings compilers completely missed the boat on Etiwanda in the preseason. However, we didn’t have a problem with the Eagles not being rated so high — as long as Mater Dei wasn’t, either. A couple polls had the Monarchs high in the top 10 but Etiwanda nowhere to be found.
3. (5) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 1-0
Northern California’s top-ranked team has only played one game, as many of SoCal’s top teams have already played in two tournaments. O’Dowd’s Ivan Rabb completely dominated the onset of the game against previous No. 15 Bullard of Fresno at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic and had the Dragons leading 14-0 before they relaxed a bit. O’Dowd will play next at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
4. (6) Loyola (Los Angeles) 8-0
As we stated in the preseason, the Cubs have experience, size and depth and have displayed it so far. They won The Tournament at Santa Monica with a 20-point win over No. 16 Chaminade. Loyola also won the Beverly Hills Tournament. If you try to double-team Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Max Hazzard has the ability to beat you and if you slow down the Cubs’ guards, big Tommie Welsh can hurt you inside or clean up on the boards.
5. (7) Centennial (Corona) 5-1
The FAB 50-ranked Huskies have only suffered one loss, that being a 69-58 setback to No. 2 Etiwanda at their own IE Tip-Off Tournament. One game we’re already looking forward to is a tussle with No. 14 Cantwell Sacred Heart in the first round of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic.
6. (17) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 6-0
The Knights, just as they were last season, are off to a hot start. It started with a 80-44 thrashing of preseason No. 20 Windward and continued with a big win over host Westchester at the Trevor Ariza Tip-Off Classic. We thought the Knights would have more trouble offsetting their frontcourt losses, but with Justin Bibbins and Stevie Thompson Jr. dismantling all comers in the backcourt that hasn’t been the case. Just as last year, Montgomery will rise slowly in the Student Sports’ regional and national ratings because it doesn’t play the schedule some of the state’s other top teams do.
7. (11) Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 5-1
Coach Reggie Morris Jr.’s crew could have been a spot or two higher – or lower — and we could have justified it. We nearly decided to ding them more harshly for the loss to Benet Academy of Lisle, Ill. After all, both No. 2 Etiwanda and No. 9 St. John Bosco won their showcase games in Chicago. In the end, we decided to reward the Sea Hawks for wins over No. 8 Westchester and No. 10 Mayfair. The play of big man Terrell Carter has been huge – both literally and figuratively.
8. (4) Westchester (Los Angeles) 5-2
The Comets have to be kicking themselves a bit as they had ample opportunity to defeat No. 7 Redondo Union in the semifinals of the Pac Shore Tournament, but eventually blew a double-digit lead. The L.A. City Section Division I favorites also lost to No. 6 Bishop Montgomery in the finals of their own Trevor Ariza Tip-Off Classic, but do get rankings credit for wins over No. 9 St. John Bosco and No. 12 Long Beach Poly.
9. (3) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 3-2
This is where the rankings get tricky. Of course, the Braves have one of the most talented teams in the state, but they have been inconsistent so far. While they were upset twice at the Pac Shore Tournament by Westchester and Mayfair, Bosco showed what it can do with a win over national power Whitney Young in Chicago. It’s about as impressive a win in the state so far and by playing a national schedule, Derrick Taylor’s club will have plenty of opportunity to overcome the early-season losses. Any more slipups, however, and Mayfair will eventually hop them if it keeps winning.
10. (BB) Mayfair (Lakewood) 3-1
It may seem odd to have Mayfair behind St. John Bosco with its head-to-head win over the Braves, but if Mayfair continues to win it will eventually hop that team. Led by transfer point guard Kendall Small and sharp-shooting Dillon Reise, the Monsoons don’t play the caliber of schedule some of the state’s best teams do and will rise slowly in the national rankings picture.
11. (8) Compton 7-1
Compton’s only loss came against No. 10 Mayfair at the Pac Shores Tournament, which seemed like a huge upset at the time. All that changed when the Monsoons defeated Student Sports FAB 50 ranked St. John Bosco the next night and nearly beat Redondo Union for the tourney crown. The Tarbabes went on to capture the Jim Harris TOC at Ocean View High School.
12. (12) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 3-1
The Jackrabbits stay put with their only loss so far to No. 8 Westchester in a tough quarterfinal draw at the early-season Pac Shores Tournament. Poly, which is trying to defend its Moore League crown against Compton and fast-rising Long Beach Millikan, will compete at the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas and then the MaxPreps Tournament in Palm Desert.
13. (BB) Capital Christian (Sacramento) 6-0
NorCal’s highest ranked newcomer is the Cougars, the Sacramento Bee’s No. 1 ranked team. Led by Michigan-bound and Mr. Basketball candidate D.J. Wilson, Capital Christian captured the Gridley Invitational with wins over Salesian of Richmond (66-60), Campolindo of Moraga (80-71) and Sacramento (78-75). Senior point guard Tyler Jennings had 21 points and three assists in the win over Sac High and was named MVP, while Wilson added 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
14. (27) Cantwell Sacred Heart (Montebello) 7-1
Head coach George Zedan’s Cardinals make a big move up in the rankings after winning the Rose City Classic in Pasadena with a victory over super sophomore Lonzo Ball and Chino Hills. CSH drew a tough semifinal draw at the Beverly Hills Tournament and lost to No. 4 Loyola 58-55. This team defends at a high level, bangs around tough inside with juniors Balsa Dragovich and Gligorise Rakocevic and has a floor general in Joey Covarrubias. The senior guard was MVP of the Rose City Classic and should draw some college interest as the season wears on.
15. (NR) Serra (San Mateo) 4-0
Head coach Chuck Rapp’s Padres got it done with a 52-39 victory over No. 18 De La Salle in the Chris Vontoure Spartan Classic title game as Danny Mahoney had 16 points and eight rebounds. Defending NorCal Open Division champ Archbishop Mitty is also off to a strong start among West Catholic Athletic League programs. The Padres have a big game coming up on Saturday against No. 19 St. Mary’s of Stockton.
16. (13) Chaminade (West Hills) 6-1
The CIFSS Division III-A runner-up from last season is off to a strong start, having won the Arizona Catholic Invitational in Phoenix last weekend when much of the national basketball media was at the Hoophall West at nearby Grand Canyon University. Chaminade has to drop three spots because Loyola beat the Eagles by 20 points, whereas Cantwell Sacred-Heart played the Cubs to within one possession. In the Arizona final, head coach Todd Wolfson’s squad topped Colorado power Regis Jesuit of Denver 52-51.
17. (NR) Jesuit (Carmichael) 6-0
The Marauders have been impressive so far, winning the Wild West Shootout in Reno, Nevada and capturing their own Father Barry Classic with an 80-69 win over No. 19 St. Mary’s of Stockton. They had to win an overtime game against St. Ignatius of San Francisco to get into that final against the Rams.
18. (16) De La Salle (Concord) 3-1
The Spartans are young and have at least one starter still playing football but they are still talented and should be stronger once that football season comes to an end. So far, De La Salle has only lost to No. 15 Serra of San Mateo at its own Chris Vontoure Spartan Classic and will be at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic after Christmas.
19. (19) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 7-1
The Rams opened with a victory over defending NorCal Div. II champion College Park of Pleasant Hill and have suffered just the one loss to Jesuit. UC-Santa Barbara-bound guard Gabe Vincent is averaging 24 points per game, including 35 in the loss to the Marauders.
20. (BB) Monte Vista (Danville) 5-0
The Mustangs get the nod as the final team in the rankings, edging out two-loss Serra of Gardena and one-loss Chino Hills. Monte Vista opened the season with an impressive win over Moreau Catholic of Hayward and is led by an excellent backcourt featuring Trevor John (Cal Poly SLO) and unsigned Grant Jackson. While Serra has lost to No. 4 Loyola and No. 8 Westchester and Chino Hills has only lost to No. 14 Cantwell Sacred Heart, neither has beaten any significant opponent.
Previous No. 9 Modesto Christian; No. 10 El Camino Real (Woodland Hills); No. 14 Serra (Gardena), No. 15 Bullard (Fresno), No. 18 Newark Memorial (Newark), No. 20 Windward (Los Angeles).
Teams On The Bubble (Listed Alphabetically):
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 4-0
Brentwood (Los Angeles) 6-2
Chino Hills 4-1
Damien (La Verne) 5-0
El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) 4-2
El Cerrito 7-0
El Toro (Lake Forest) 5-1
Fairfax (Los Angeles) 4-2
J.W. North (Riverside) 6-1
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 5-1
Millikan (Long Beach) 6-3
Rancho Cucamonga 4-1
San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-0
Serra (Gardena) 6-2
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 9-0
St. Augustine (San Diego) 6-0
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 2-1
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 4-1
Temecula Valley (Temecula) 3-1
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 5-0
Windward (Los Angeles) 6-2