As the major holiday tournaments heat up, we update our preseason boys basketball state rankings. Our next update will be January 4 after those tournaments give us key results. Sierra Canyon is now the top-ranked team and plays national No. 1 Oak Hill Academy of Virginia on December 15.
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BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Through games of Saturday, December 10; Preseason ranking in parentheses)
1. (2) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 5-0
The Trailblazers defeated preseason No. 17 Oak Park (81-57) and No. 19 Alemany (79-64) to win their own tournament invitational. Head coach Ty Nichols’ club faces FAB 50 No. 1 Oak Hill Academy on ESPN this Thursday, but from what we’ve so far this season it’s going to take a Herculean effort to knock them off locally.
2. (1) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 4-1
We don’t penalize the Knights too much, dropping them one spot after their opening-game loss to No. 7 Bishop O’Dowd at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic, as two starters were not 100 percent. Montgomery bounced back to win the Westchester Tip-Off Classic and has the Mission Prep Tournament coming up next.
3. (3) Chino Hills 6-0
The defending national and CIF Open Division champs extended its winning streak to 41 games with a 84-70 win over Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas. Chino Hills also won the Battlezone Tournament and is the top seed at the Tarkanian Classic.
4. (4) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 7-0
The Monarchs really haven’t been challenged so far, but will at the Tarkanian Classic. They are in the opposite bracket of Mater Dei with Bishop Gorman, No. 12 Salesian and No. 15 Westchester.
5. (6) Fairfax (Los Angeles) 5-0
Under new coach Steve Baik, the Lions have started well, winning the Rose City Roundball Classic. They have a break until going down to the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic after Christmas.
6. (12) Santa Monica 7-1
The Vikings bounced back from a loss to No. 17 Crossroads by winning the Beverly Hills Tournament. The key victory was a 70-66 come-from-behind quarterfinal win over No. 9 Birmingham.
7. (15) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 1-0
The Dragons move up and are now NorCal’s No. 1 ranked team after defeating preseason No. 1 Bishop Montgomery at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic. They travel to Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic this week and if they win their opener, O’Dowd could face No. 3 Chino Hills in a monster quarterfinal.
8. (19) Woodcreek (Roseville) 7-0
Junior Jordan Brown had a monster game (27 points, 25 rebounds) in the season opener vs. Newark Memorial and led the Timberwolves to the Gridley Tournament title. The key win that shot Woodcreek up in the rankings was a 72-45 win over preseason NorCal No. 1 Salesian in which Brown went for 24 points and 20 rebounds.
9. (20) Birmingham (Lake Balboa) 7-2
The Patriots stamped themselves as a major L.A. City Section Open Division contender and get rankings credit for capturing the Pac Shores Tournament, including a 76-73 win over No. 10 Santa Margarita. They drew a tough draw at the Beverly Hills Tournament, losing to No. 6 Santa Monica in the quarters and lost in the consolation bracket to L.A Loyola without leading player Devante Doutrive.
10. (10) Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) 4-1
After a good showing at the Pac Shores Tournament, the Eagles turned some heads by defeating Nevada power Bishop Gorman on December 2. They remain in the same rankings position heading into the Santa Margarita Christmas Tournament.
11. (16) Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 4-1
With only a loss to No. 3 Chino Hills, the Knights now rate as the San Diego Section’s top-ranked team. Jaylen Hands is playing like the top guard in the state for a team that has the Grossmont Tournament up next.
12. (9) Salesian (Richmond) 5-1
It would be simple to just slide The Pride one spot behind No. 8 Woodcreek, but the margin of defeat was just too large to do that. Salesian has to show it can deal with teams with height and it will get it chance to do so at the Tarkanian Classic.
13. (31) Etiwanda 4-2
Coach Dave Kleckner has one of his best shooting teams in recent memory and a loss to Long Beach Poly is offset by a win over No. 14 Centennial. The other loss is a 65-60 setback to No. 11 Foothills Christian.
14. (8) Centennial (Corona) 4-2
Similar to No. 13 Etiwanda, a loss to Long Beach Poly is off set by a quality victory. In Centennial’s case, it’s a recent 69-61 win over No. 15 Westchester
15. (25) Westchester (Los Angeles) 6-3
As we said in the preseason, you can never count out the Comets as long as Ez Azzam’s veteran staff is in place. Westchester has beaten Long Beach Poly with losses to No. 2 Bishop Montgomery, No. 9 Birmingham and No. 14 Centennial.
16. (14) Roosevelt (Corona) 3-1
According to coach Steve Singleton, a game versus Village Christian of Sun Valley was pushed back, so the Cougars don’t play any games between the Pac Shores Tournament and the Tarkanian Classic.
17. (BB) Crossroads (Santa Monica) 6-0
The Roadrunners are the highest-ranked team to move in, as they get ratings credit for winning the St. Monica Tournament over No. 6 Santa Monica. Crossroads wasn’t ranked in the preseason because of the injury to Arizona-bound Ira Lee and it doesn’t look like he’ll play at the Tarkanian Classic.
18. (22) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 4-0
We go with the Braves as the next unbeaten team in the Top 20 over 5-0 Ridgeview of Bakersfield, as they play an overall tougher schedule. The Braves already won the Corona del Mar Tournament and have the North Orange County Tournament and The Classic at Damien coming up.
19. (18) Capital Christian (Sacramento) 2-2
A consolation loss to Dublin at the Gridley Tournament is offset by its overtime win over No. 20 Alemany at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic. This team, which lost to No. 12 Salesian (80-62), will be a better team in the second semester when junior Ricky Barros plays.
20. (11) Alemany (Mission Hills) 4-2
There is no shame in the Warriors losing to top-ranked Sierra Canyon (79-64), but they are now the front-runners in the Mission League as preseason No. 5 Crespi is struggling with injuries. Alemany learned a lot of lessons in its overtime loss to No. 19 Capital Christian and will have plenty of opportunity to move back up.
Dropped Out: Preseason No. 5 Crespi (Encino), No. 7 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), No. 13 Long Beach Poly, No. 17 Oak Park.
Teams On The Bubble:
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 2-1
Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 3-0
Cantwell Sacred Heart (Montebello) 6-2
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 2-1
Central (Fresno) 4-0
Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 5-0
Crespi (Encino) 5-4
Damien (La Verne) 6-0
Esperanza (Anaheim) 9-1
Heritage Christian (Northridge) 9-1
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 5-4
Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 4-0
Monte Vista (Danville) 3-1
Narbonne (Harbor City) 5-3
Oak Park 6-4
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) 3-2
Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 5-0
Sheldon (Sacramento) 0-0
St. Augustine (San Diego) 4-1
St. Francis (Mountain View) 4-0
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 5-1
St. Patrick-St. Vincent (Vallejo) 3-2
Taft (Woodland Hills) 3-2
Torrey Pines (San Diego) 6-0
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 5-1