The big news this week is on the girls side since a D5 school with just six players on the roster is now inside the State Top 20. Say hello to Eastside Prep. Among the boys, no teams crack the State Top 20 as a vast majority of playoff favorites win in the early rounds of their respective section post-season brackets.
Check below for this week’s new list of the State Top 20 boys and girls basketball rankings.
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The upsets in boys basketball have been few and far between so far in California’s vast section playoff system. As a result, there are no new teams in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20 rankings for the boys.
With the sheer amount of teams that qualify for the post-season in California, the reality is that there are some bad teams participating and, as a result, some lopsided scores in the early rounds. A team that had a poor regular season can get hot or we’ll see a major upset here and there, but that didn’t happen this season.
There will be a plethora of section semifinal games at the beginning of this week and section finals all throughout the weekend with teams selected for the NorCal and SoCal regional playoffs on Sunday March 8.
The only state-ranked boys teams to taste defeat this past week participate in the stacked field of the CIF Southern Section Open Division. Teams were moved up and dropped based on results as they are each week, but the results of the CIFSS Open games involving those six strong teams that tasted defeat didn’t warrant them being replaced by another team from a much weaker section playoff bracket.
NEW BOYS BASKETBALL
TOP 20 OVERALL RANKINGS
2. (2) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 26-3
3. (3) BISHOP MONTGOMERY (TORRANCE) 29-1
4. (5) FAIRFAX (LOS ANGELES) 29-2
5. (7) ETIWANDA 22-7
6. (4) SIERRA CANYON (CHATSWORTH) 22-4
7. (8) CATHEDRAL (LOS ANGELES) 20-7
8. (11) LUTHERAN (ORANGE) 24-5
9. (6) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 22-5
10. (10) MOREAU CATHOLIC (HAYWAYRD) 22-5
11. (9) CHINO HILLS 20-7*
12. (13) MONTE VISTA (DANVILLE) 25-3
13. (14) SACRAMENTO 25-4
14. (15) EL CERRITO 27-3
15. (16) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 23-4
16. (17) REDONDO UNION (REDONDO BEACH) 23-6
17. (12) DAMIEN (LA VERNE) 24-5
18. (18) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 25-3
19. (19) WESTCHESTER (LOS ANGELES) 21-11
20. (20) MODESTO CHRISTIAN 26-3
*Forfeit losses not included.
Dropped Out: None.
NEW GIRLS BASKETBALL
TOP 20 OVERALL RANKINGS
After an easy win over state-ranked Brea Olinda that had a lot of folks in Orange County excited, Santa Ana Mater Dei’s state No. 1 girls basketball team followed with a 59-37 win over Alemany of Mission Hills in the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals.
Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year front-runner Katie Lou Samuelson had 30 points for the Monarchs, who will not be playing No. 2 seed Long Beach Poly as expected in the final. Instead, they will play Chaminade of West Hills, which pulled off what we tweeted as a “minor upset” when they defeated Poly at home, 77-66.
“Very minor (upset) if judging purely off talent,” said Mike Guardabascio of the Long Beach Press Telegram. “Odom and Higgins best two on the floor tonight.”
Neah Odom, the No. 2 ranked junior in the recent Cal-Hi Sports Class of 2016 rankings, had a game-high 26 points. Valerie Higgins, the No. 5 ranked player in those same rankings, had 19 points.
Mater Dei comes into Friday’s championship on a 25-game winning streak since suffering its only loss of the season in a 60-59 setback to this very Chaminade team in the title game of the Palisades Invitational in late November.
The other big news of the week is that Eastside College Prep of East Palo Alto, which briefly graced the rankings for the first time ever earlier this season, propelled itself back into the State Top 20 once again after a CIF Central Coast Section Open Division upset 56-53 win by the No. 6 seed Panthers over a No. 3 seed Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) team coming off a win over St. Ignatius of San Francisco.
Eastside Prep, which avenged an earlier loss to the Monarchs, now faces league rival Pinewood for the third time in the CCS Open Division semifinals. Pinewood also has handed the Panthers two of their three other losses.
“I guess you could say beating Mitty is at the top of what we’ve accomplished so far,” said eight-year Eastside Prep head coach Donovan Blythe.
Not only did the Division V enrollment Panthers take down Mitty with a short squad, they’ve beaten Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) this season with only four girls on the floor at the end of the game. In one of the two defeats to Pinewood, they finished the game with only three players in a 68-62 overtime loss.
“You can go around the country and you won’t find a school doing what we’re doing with six players,” continued Blythe, who for many years coached boys, and as an assistant at Emery of Emeryville he mentored three-time (1991-1993) Division V State Player of the Year Darnell Robinson.
To beat a deep Pinewood squad and advance to the CCS Open title game, the engine will need to be firing on all cylinders.
“Do we want to have a chance to compete for a Division V state title? Of course,” remarked Blythe. “But what makes me sick is hearing about coaches tanking it (to avoid tough opponents) because I can’t teach that type of thing to my girls. We’re going out here to win, and if it’s meant for us to win it (the CCS Open) – then we’ll win it.”
2. (2) ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 28-1
3. (4) CHAMINADE (WEST HILLS) 24-3
4. (5) ST. IGNATIUS (SAN FRANCISCO) 21-4
5. (3) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 25-3
6. (6) MIRAMONTE (ORINDA) 26-2
7. (7) PINEWOOD (LOS ALTOS HILLS) 23-2
8. (9) CARONDELET (CONCORD) 24-2
9. (10) ALEMANY (MISSION HILLS) 24-6
10. (8) SIERRA CANYON (CHATSWORTH) 21-5
11. (12) VANDEN (FAIRFIELD) 26-3
12. (13) GARCES (BAKERSFIELD) 27-1
13. (14) BISHOP O’DOWD (OAKLAND) 20-8
14. (17) SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL (SAN FRANCISCO) 15-10
15. (18) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 22-7
16. (15) BREA OLINDA (BREA) 22-4
17. (NR) EASTSIDE PREP (EAST PALO ALTO) 21-4
18. (11) ARCHBISHOP MITTY (SAN JOSE) 19-6
19. (19) SALESIAN (RICHMOND) 26-3
20. (NR) MT. CARMEL (SAN DIEGO) 27-2
*Forfeit wins or losses not included.
Dropped Out: Previous No. 16 Narbonne (Harbor City); No. 20 Ventura.
Mark Tennis & Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.
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