Mater Dei of Santa Ana, the preseason No. 1 team in the state, is back on top of the Cal-Hi Sports State 20 after winning the Nike TOC in Arizona. St. Mary’s of Stockton stays No. 2 after downing previous No. 1 Long Beach Poly. There could be more changes after the post-Christmas holiday tournaments.
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In the previous state rankings done for games ending December 13, we said at the time that the who-beat-who syndrome with so many top teams going at each other early on might mean several changes at the top of the heap.
With the conclusion of the Nike Tournament of Champions at Phoenix last weekend, a new No. 1 has emerged, but not surprisingly it’s the same team that was in the catbird seat in the preseason.
Mater Dei of Santa Ana was that preseason No. 1 team but gave way to Chaminade of West Hills after that team pinned a one-point loss on the Monarchs.
St. Mary’s, however, then lost 79-68 in the semifinals of the TOC to a Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) team that fell 53-44 to Mater Dei in the TOC Smith Division championship game.
The victory over Blackman was as much about defense as it was about scoring in the low scoring affair. Mater Dei jumped out to a 13-5 first quarter lead, led 32-20 at the half, and then maintained a fairly comfortable lead to the final buzzer.
Showing why she is considered one of the nation’s top players and the leading early candidate for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, Connecticut-committed and USA Basketball multiple gold medal winning star Katie Lou Samuelson was unstoppable against Blackman and finished with 36 points to garner MVP honors in the TOC’s top division.
In the four games at Phoenix, the 6-foot-3 senior wing and the ESPN No. 1 prospect in the country affectionately nicknamed “Lou” had 134 points and was the main reason Mater Dei now has a TOC Smith Division three-peat under its belt heading into the New Year.
“Lou has such a quick release and with her height she’s impossible to stop,” Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan told Cal-Hi Sports.
Loyola-Marymount-bound guard Andee Velasco had 37 assists in the four games and also was named all-tournament. She hit a half court 3-pointer to end the half against Blackman that gave the Monarchs a 12-point lead. Her penetration and ability to dish to Samuelson on the perimeter was a combination that clicked the entire tournament.
Several younger players in the Smith field made big impressions on the assembled analysts, including Mater Dei wing Jayda Adams. The 5-foot-11 sophomore wing is the younger sister of former Monarchs’ star and current USC guard Jordan Adams.
Even with Samuelson and Velasco leading the charge, the Monarchs really are a young team. The only other impact senior is guard Bianca Velasco, the Loyola-Marymount-committed sister of Andee Velasco. Ally Rosenblum, a 6-foot-3 post who continues to improve, is a junior. Kiernan also has two other juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen on the 16-girl roster.
“The reality is we’re a very young team. You can see it and the improvement in the younger players in each game,” said Kiernan, who entered the season as the No. 6 all-time winningest coach in California with 641 victories.
The 15th Annual West Coast Jamboree starts on Saturday with numerous ranked teams in the field, led by No. 2 St. Mary’s, No. 4 Chaminade and No. 6 St. Ignatius gracing the Platinum Division field, which will be held at Las Positas College in Livermore.CAL-HI SPORTS UPDATED TOP
GIRLS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Includes results through games of December 23)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
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1. (4) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 7-1
The Monarchs don’t see action over the rest of the holidays and next face La Jolla Country Day on January 3 at their own Matt Deming Classic.
2. (2) ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 6-1
The Rams maintain the No. 2 spot, but are now behind a new No. 1. At the Nike TOC, they posted a decisive third-place 85-65 victory over a Parkview (Lilburn, Georgia) team that lost 60-53 to Mater Dei in the semifinals. Junior guard Mi’Cole Cayton had 23 points against Parkview and was named all-tournament. St. Mary’s opens the West Coast Jamboree with Upper Room Christian of Dix Hills, New York.
3. (1) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 7-1
After losing to St. Mary’s (Stockton) at the TOC, the Jackrabbits went on to win the fifth place game with an exciting 55-54 win over a Fremont (Nebraska) team that opened the TOC with a 54-47 win over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland. Pittsburgh recruit Tania Lamb hit a last-second shot to seal the win for Poly and was named all-tournament.
The Eagles lose a spot and fall in behind the Poly team that beat them two weeks ago. The San Fernando Valley girls next head to the Jamboree where they open with Bishop O’Dowd.
5. (5) SIERRA CANYON (CHATSWORTH) 9-0
After winning their games at the McDonald’s Classic in El Paso, the Trailblazers won the Santa Barbara TOC with a 50-41 win over Redondo Union and then an impressive 56-34 title-game win over a Ventura team that beat Vista Murrieta and Oaks Christian en route to the title game. Head coach Alicia Komaki and the girls are now off to Washington D.C. and the Title IX tournament where the competition will be tougher.
6. (6) ST. IGNATIUS (SAN FRANCISCO) 7-0
After winning the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 tournament with wins over La Mesa Helix, IMG Academy (Florida), 52-45 over Pinewood and 59-37 over Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) in the championship game, the Wildcats followed that up with wins over Bishop O’Dowd and Lynwood as well as San Francisco Lowell. The Wildcats open the Jamboree against McClatchy of Sacramento.
7. (7) MIRAMONTE (ORINDA) 8-1
After winning the Lady Wildcat Tournament at Marin Catholic and losing a heartbreaker at the Iolani Classic opener to eventual runner-up Konawaena of Kealakekua, Miramonte won its next two games easily. Miramonte then won all three games at its own Mats Classic with blowouts of Berkeley and Arcata, and then a second win this season over Berkeley St. Mary’s.
8. (9) PINEWOOD (LOS ALTOS HILLS) 6-1
Since a third-place finish at the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 tournament, last year’s Division V state champions (they seem headed to the Open Division this year) have added a 61-48 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) to their resume and a one spot bump as well. Next up is a January 3 home date with Miramonte.
9. (20) BREA OLINDA (BREA) 9-0
It wasn’t the top division of the Nike TOC in Phoenix but the young Ladycats are undefeated after winning the Anderson Division with a victory over Corona Centennial in the second round and Windward (Los Angeles) in the title game. The resume is still a bit light but if they can win the Diamond Division of the Jamboree it will justify this rise for the No. 2 team in Orange County.
10. (17) OAKS CHRISTIAN (WESTLAKE VILLAGE) 9-4
Here’s the point in the state rankings where the order gets much more difficult to determine. Oaks Christian’s losses are to Mater Dei, St. Ignatius, Ventura in the Santa Barbara TOC, and one stinker loss to a Keppel team that has quality wins and losses as well. Besides wins over Modesto Christian, Colorado Highlands Ranch and San Marcos Mission Hills, the Lions also have a big win over Redondo Union.
11. (10) REDONDO UNION (REDONDO BEACH) 5-3
The Sea Hawks have some solid wins and close losses but since the last rankings they went 2-2 at the Santa Barbara TOC, beating Santa Maria St. Joseph and Concord Carondelet, and then losing by nine to Sierra Canyon and six to Oaks Christian.
12. (14) ST. MARY’S (BERKELEY) 6-2
There is now a second loss on the Panthers’ log, but it was to Miramonte for the second time. They also go up because of a 20-point win over Berkeley. St. Mary’s opens the Diamond Division of the Jamboree with Vanden.
13. (19) MODESTO CHRISTIAN (MODESTO) 6-2
The losses are to Oaks Christian and Pinewood and it’s an overall resume that now makes the Crusaders the No. 2 team in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
14. (NR) LA JOLLA COUNTRY DAY (SAN DIEGO) 5-3
Besides a loss to Modesto Christian, the young Torreys have two out of state losses, including one to Horizon (Thornton, Colo.) in the title game of the Nike TOC Desper Division. Prior to that, LJCD had two solid wins in the desert over Sacramento McClatchy and perennial national Villa Maria Academy of Erie, Penn.
15. (11) BISHOP ALEMANY (MISSION HILLS) 6-1
The Warrior girls broke in big in the last rankings but since then they’ve gone 2-1 and finished fifth in the TOC Desper Division with a 52-48 win over a Villa Maria Academy team that lost 58-35 to second place finisher La Jolla Country Day.
16. (13) CLOVIS WEST (FRESNO) 7-2
Still the top team from the CIF Central Section, the Golden Eagles have a close loss to Alemany and then took second place in the Nike TOC Gray Division with three wins over out of state teams, including Las Vegas Centennial, and a 69-60 loss to a very solid Lutheran of Parker, Colorado.
17. (NR) MISSION HILLS (SAN MARCOS) 11-3
Besides the loss to La Jolla Country Day, the No. 2 team from the CIF San Diego Section has two losses to Oaks Christian. The solid wins are over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Vista Murrieta and La Jolla Bishop’s.
18. (NR) VENTURA 11-2
The losses are to Sierra Canyon and a bit of a stinker loss to a fairly decent Burbank Burroughs in that team’s tournament. Big recent wins over Vista Murrieta and Oaks Christian, however, gives Ventura a bump in this week’s rankings.
19. (8) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 6-3
The Broncos have some good wins and a one-point loss to Chaminade, but since the last rankings they lost twice at the Santa Barbara TOC to Ventura and San Marcos Mission Hills.
20. (NR) ARCHBISHOP MITTY (SAN JOSE) 5-2
The Monarchs just posted a solid 20-point win at home versus Salesian of Richmond. The losses are to Highlands Ranch (Colorado) and a close four-point loss to Mission Hills.
Previous No. 12 Salesian (Richmond); No. 15 Eastside Prep (East Palo Alto); No. 16 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland); No. 18 McClatchy (Sacramento).
Teams On the Bubble
Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 4-5
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 9-1
Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 4-5
Brookside Christian (Stockton) 6-1
Cajon (San Bernardino) 10-0
Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 4-3
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 6-2
Carondelet (Concord) 5-1
Centennial (Bakersfield) 4-4
Centennial (Corona) 8-3
Deer Valley (Antioch) 4-3
Del Oro (Loomis) 11-1
Enterprise (Redding) 6-1
El Dorado (Placentia) 7-2
Fairfax (Los Angeles) 5-4
Foothill (Tustin) 7-1
Garces (Bakersfield) 7-1
Horizon Christian (San Diego) 7-3
JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 8-3
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 9-0
Mark Keppel (Alhambra) 4-4
Millikan (Long Beach) 5-4
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 8-2
Mt. Carmel (San Diego) 10-0
Murrieta Valley (Murrieta) 8-0
Narbonne (Harbor City) 6-3
Oak Hills (Hesperia) 7-2
Orange Lutheran (Orange) 8-1
Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 7-2
Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 2-4
Santa Barbara 9-3
Scotts Valley 6-2
Serra (Gardena) 4-5
St. Francis (Sacramento) 8-1
St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 9-1
West (Torrance) 6-3
Torrey Pines (San Diego) 8-2
Troy (Fullerton) 4-4
Vanden (Fairfield) 6-1
Windward (Los Angeles) 5-5
Cal-Hi Sports co-founder & editor Mark Tennis also contributed to these rankings. Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend