Girls BB: State Top 20 Update

Valerie Higgins and teammates at Chaminade of West Hills can run play No. 1 this week as the No. 1 team in California, according to Cal-Hi Sports. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Valerie Higgins and teammates at Chaminade of West Hills can run play No. 1 this week as the No. 1 team in California, according to Cal-Hi Sports. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Chaminade beats Mater Dei in early showdown and forces us to do an updated version of the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20 rankings. St. Mary’s of Stockton slips to No. 3 while Mater Dei slides down to No. 2.

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For Part 1 of the preseason state rankings, CLICK HERE.
For last season’s final state rankings, CLICK HERE.
For lists of state’s all-time coaching leaders (Gold Club), CLICK HERE.

In our preseason state rankings, we mentioned that the transfer situation could very well have an immediate effect on the rankings and that observation was almost prophetic.

While the boys basketball State Top 20 had no need for juggling this week with preseason No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd flexing its muscles at the Prep2Prep Tip-Off Classic with a win over nationally-ranked Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), and the other top teams pretty much following suit. The same can’t be said, however, for the girls.

One of the teams we were watching very closely after the transfers in the summer had all come in was Chaminade of West Hills with AAU national champion Team Taurasi star Leaonna “Neah” Odom.

Head coach Tom Gonsalves of Stockton St. Mary's should have a team contending for No. 1 national honors this year and next. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Head coach Tom Gonsalves of Stockton St. Mary’s should have a team contending for No. 1 national honors this year and next. Photo: Willie Eashman.

The wait wasn’t very long as head coach Kelli Dimuro and her Eagles’ girls took down Odom’s previous team and pre-season No. 1 Mater Dei, 60-59, in the Palisades Beach Invitational last week. They led by as many as 10 points but also trailed by 10 points at one time before closing out the razor-thin win.

After the one-point win over Mater Dei and USA Basketball star Katie Lou Samuelson, Chaminade scraped out another one-point win at the Redondo Tournament against Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) and its junior star Jaelyn Brown.

The 6-foot-2 Odom has been rock-steady and the 1-2 punch of her and 6-foot returning star and fellow junior Valerie Higgins has been the key so far. Higgins is averaging 17.2 points 8.8 rebounds per game. She had 20/14 with seven steals and four assists versus Mater Dei and 16 points and seven each rebounds, assists and steals against Vista Murrieta. Odom is averaging 15.0 points and 6.8 rebounds. Against Mater Dei, she had 14 points, and 13 points and eight rebounds in the Vista Murrieta win. She also helped hold Brown to seven points.

With the win, Chaminade jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 in the state while Mater Dei fell from No. 1 back down to No. 2.

There was minor lobbying for preseason No. 2 St. Mary’s of Stockton to move up, but the Rams are still 0-0 in games that count and although they appear to be loaded, the consensus was simply to have Chaminade and Mater Dei move up to the top two slots.

St. Mary’s opens on December 11 at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii and then goes to the Nike TOC in Phoenix where national powerhouse Riverdale Baptist (Maryland) awaits. Riverdale Baptist already has a 53-47 win over a supposedly loaded Upper Room Christian (Dix Hills, New York) team from Long Island that is playing with St. Mary’s in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree. The Rams will certainly get a chance to show they are No. 1 at some point this month.

At this point, Chaminade has done the work to be on top, but it hasn’t come with some early bruises. Odom has a sore knee and senior point guard Paige Fecske appears to have a concussion. Coach Dimuro and the girls had the day off on Thursday before resuming action as the Golden State’s top team on Friday at the Redondo tourney against the same Troy team they beat by 19 points at the Palisades event.

“That’s what I want to hear,” remarked Dimuro when told her girls would be on top for the first rankings other than pre-season. “The girls have worked very hard so far early this season and they deserve it.”


(Includes results through games of December 3)
(Preseason ranking in parentheses)

After going 4-0, including wins over state-ranked Troy and Mark Keppel, and then a 60-59 win over previous No. 1 Mater Dei at the Palisades Beach Invitational, the Eagles then moved on to the Redondo tournament where they opened with a win over Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach). They survived another nail-biter with a 50-49 over state-ranked Vista Murrieta on Wednesday night.

2. (1) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 5-1
The one-point loss to Chaminade makes it reasonable to keep the Monarchs right behind them at this point and ahead of everyone else. Mater Dei continues play in the South Coast Tournament before heading to the Nike TOC in Phoenix.

3. (2) ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 0-0
The Rams open at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii against Honolulu Roosevelt next week. From Hawaii, head coach Tom Gonsalves and his girls are on to the Nike TOC and then the West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division in what is the toughest preseason and most travel among any of the top teams.

The early season schedule only has an easy 52-33 home win over JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) with the Trailblazers possibly getting some tests at the McDonald’s Classic in El Paso, Texas that begins this weekend. Like St. Mary’s, the Trailblazers drop a spot to make room for Chaminade but early on it really doesn’t mean anything until December’s action shakes things out.

The Jackrabbits have a win over Harvard-Westlake and now face Gardena Serra at the Redondo tournament.

The Wildcats opened on Wednesday with an easy 78-46 win over Helix (La Mesa) as the top- ranked team at the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 tournament.

Like many teams, the Dragons have scheduled light early on but prior to the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree they face St. Ignatius in San Francisco a week from Friday.

8. (10) MIRAMONTE (ORINDA) 0-0
The Mats opened on Thursday with St. Joseph (Santa Maria) at the Marin Catholic Ladycat Classic. Then they will be at Iolani in Hawaii next week.

The Irish opened on Thursday with Brookside Christian at the Cardinal Newman Classic. Salesian is on tap next week and Pinewood in two weeks before the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

Mai-Loni Henson and team at La Jolla Country Day are hosting Sweet 16 tourney this weekend. Photo: Harold Abend.

Mai-Loni Henson and team at La Jolla Country Day are hosting Sweet 16 tourney this weekend. Photo: Harold Abend.

After a 77-54 win over Long Beach Millikan, the Broncos came close to the upset but fell one point short in the loss to Chaminade. Next up is a Narbonne team at the Redondo tourney that has a two-point win over Keppel but a 14-point loss to Troy.

The defending Division V state champions opened with a blowout of San Jose Presentation and then posted a solid 64-59 win over a Lakewood (Colorado) team that was 24-2 last season and one of that state’s top-ranked teams.

The top team from the CIF San Diego Section opened its Sweet 16 tournament with a 72-37 win over San Diego Cathedral Catholic and now takes on upstart Modesto Christian.

The Sea Hawks opened the season with wins at their own Battle of the Beach with wins over Palisades (Pacific Palisades) and a Lynwood team that has a win over Windward. We’ll see if this team is for real in a Friday night match-up with Long Beach Poly.

There’s a win over Agoura but then a 10-point loss to Keppel before beating Troy by 13 points at the Palisades Invitational, and then a 10-point loss to a Lynwood team that has a loss to Redondo Union..

15. (15) TROY (FULLERTON) 4-2
The Warrior girls have had the same pre-season schedule as No. 1 Chaminade, and that’s why they’re playing the Eagles again. So far, they have the losses to Chaminade and to Windward, but a 14-point win over a Narbonne team that has the win over a Keppel team that has a win over Windward.

Last year’s D3 state champs are ready to roll. They opened with a decisive 60-47 win over Canyon Springs at the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 and now face the hosts on Thursday night.

The Sacramento area’s preseason No. 1 team opened on Thursday against Sacramento Sheldon.

18. (17) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 2-0
After two easy wins against Temple City and Los Angeles Garfield, the Huskies face Santa Monica in South El Monte Tournament.

The who-beat-who to start the season continues with the Knights’ 55-47 loss to Troy to open the Redondo Tourney and then a 64-58 win over Keppel.

20. (19) VANDEN (FAIRFIELD) 1-0
A light schedule before the Diamond Division of the West Coast Jamboree opener with Berkeley St. Mary’s shows a blowout opening win over Pleasant Hill College Park with host James Logan (Union City) on tap next week.

Dropped Out:
Previous No. 9 Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley), No. 20 Millikan (Long Beach)

Team On the Bubble

Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 0-1
Berkeley 0-0
Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 0-0
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 3-0
Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 0-0
Brea-Olinda (Brea) 2-0
Brookside Christian (Stockton) 0-0
Cajon (San Bernardino) 5-0
Camarillo 1-0
Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 0-1
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 0-0
Carondelet (Concord) 0-0
Centennial (Bakersfield) 1-0
Clovis West (Fresno) 0-0
Deer Valley (Antioch) 0-0
Del Oro (Loomis) 0-0
Enterprise (Redding) 0-0
El Dorado (Placentia) 2-0
Etiwanda 0-0
Fairfax (Los Angeles) 0-0
Foothill (Santa Ana) 2-0
Garces (Bakersfield) 1-1
Hanford 0-0
Horizon Christian (San Diego) 1-0
JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 2-1
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 2-0
Lynwood 1-1
Mark Keppel (Alhambra) 3-3
Millikan (Long Beach) 3-3
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 1-1
Mission Hills (San Marcos) 2-0
Narbonne (Harbor City) 1-1
Oak Hills (Hesperia) 1-0
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 2-2
Piedmont 0-0
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 0-0
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 2-0
Sacramento 0-0
St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 1-0
Salesian (Richmond) 1-0
Serra (Gardena) 3-3
Torrey Pines (San Diego) 1-0
Ventura 1-0

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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