With some Southern, Northern and Central California tournaments complete plus the Iolani Classic in Hawaii where four of the top five preseason teams were in action, it’s time to sort things out although movement at the top was minimal with the biggest change in the top teams coming with what has become a legitimate Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco joining the top five.
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BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Through games of Saturday, December 10; Preseason ranking in parentheses)
1. (1) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 4-0
After opening the season with a 26-point win over a Bishop O’Dowd team that just pinned a significant loss on Pinewood, the Monarchs rolled with blowout wins over Hawaii’s top teams in a 40-point win over Kealakekua Konawaena (HW) and a 69-39 win over the islands’ top team and host Iolani. From there, head coach Sue Phillips and her girls were on the long end of the stick in a 76-75 OT win over Clovis West in the championship game. Sophomore Haley Jones was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for Mitty.
2. (3) Clovis West (Fresno) 7-1
The Golden Eagles were down by 10 points against Mitty in the title game of the Iolani and came back to force overtime but could not completely turn the worm. Still, after easily winning their own Nike Central Valley Showdown with a 79-44 title-game victory over Concord Carondelet, head coach Craig Campbell and his girls are about as close a second as you can be in the rankings after the one-point OT loss to top-ranked Mitty. Arizona-committed Bre’yanna Sanders was the Iolani Most Outstanding Player for Clovis West.
3. (2) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 2-1
Like Clovis West in their game against Mitty, the Jackrabbits trailed Clovis West 34-21 at halftime and needed a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Deja Williams in the semifinals against the Golden Eagles to force overtime where Poly lost 70-67 after the Jackrabbits couldn’t hold a 66-63 lead in the extra period. Poly was looking for a fourth straight Iolani title but had to settle for third place after a 58-45 victory over host Iolani on Saturday. Head Coach Carl Buggs and his girls drop one spot and stay in front of St. Mary’s and right behind the team that nipped them.
4. (4) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 5-0
The Rams were not part of the California contingent in Hawaii but they did win the Cardinal Newman Classic two weeks ago with a 74-55 win over the hosts in the title game, and last Saturday they held off Sacred Heart Cathedral with a 69-63 victory at home. State Sophomore of the Year Aquira DeCosta led the way in the win over the Irish with a double-double 24 points (3-of-4 on 3-pointers) and 15 rebounds, and Ariel Johnson added 17 points and eight rebounds, but the new buzz in Stockton is about 6-foot-1 freshman wing Amaya Oliver. She was in double-figure scoring for the fourth time this season and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
5. (9) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 4-1
Eyebrows were raised and the naysayers and doubters in the chit-chat rooms could not figure how a team that was No. 26 to end last season could come into this season at No. 9. Now, with head coach LyRyan Russell getting everything from a team that returned just about everyone, and after winning the La Jolla Country Day Sweet 16 Invitational with a 78-75 overtime win in the title game against Mission Hills, and then last Saturday taking St. Mary’s to the wire in Stockton, the Irish girls are not only a top 10 team but are in the top five and deservedly so. Cincinnati-bound 6-1 IImar’I Thomas, who can play any position on the court, had 30 points and 13 rebounds in the Mission Hills win, and 24 points, 12 rebounds and three each in assists, blocks and steals in the St. Mary’s loss.
6. (6) Mission Hills (San Marcos) 8-1
The Grizzlies breezed through their bracket at the Matador Classic at Spring Valley Mount Miguel that culminated in a 51-31 victory over the hosts in the title game. With their lone loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral, head coach Christopher Kroesch and his girls hold tight and fall in behind the Irish. Four girls are averaging over eight points a game led by Washington-bound Kayla Rooks with 18.5 ppg and NorCal transplant Hailey McCoy and 9.1 per game average.
7. (10) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 6-0
It’s a three-spot bump for the top team from the San Fernando Valley that has gotten to that spot with wins over Oaks Christian, and a Valencia team that has a win over a Bishop Alemany team that the Trailblazers beat 82-60 in the title game of the Troy Tournament. Along the way, head coach Alicia Komaki and her girls beat Mater Dei in the semifinals of the Troy tournament meaning Komaki got a win over her mentor, head coach Kevin Kiernan of the Monarchs, who she previously assisted.
Even with a four-point loss to a Ventura, team that has a lone 23-point loss to a Gardena Serra team the Wolverines beat, means it’s a big bump up for head coach Melissa Hearlihy and her girls after they have also posted wins over Valencia, Fairmont Prep, Windward and Santa Ana Mater Dei. They can be ahead of Ventura since Ventura also has a loss to Gardena Serra, a team Harvard-Westlake beat.
9. (17) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 4-1
No one expected the Cardinals to beat No. 4 St. Mary’s but they took the dive and that coupled with a decisive 60-29 win over Sacramento Bee preseason No. 1 Oak Ridge means a big boost in this group particularly with an upcoming game with Sacred Heart Cathedral.
10. (24) Valencia 8-2
The word was out on the girls from the Santa Clarita Valley and although they have losses to Sierra Canyon and the Harvard-Westlake team they fall in behind, they have a 49-47 OT win over the Alemany team they are just above.
11. (18) Alemany (Mission Hills) 6-2
The San Fernando Valley girls have losses to the Valencia team they fall in behind and Sierra Canyon but they have a win over a Gardena Serra team that has some solid wins, including one against Ventura.
12. (28) Fairmont Prep (Anaheim) 8-1
The top team from Orange County has a lone 3-point loss to Harvard-Westlake and wins over Chaminade and Vista Murrieta but after that the schedule is a little light. It’s still a huge jump for the Huskies as they head to a mid division of the Nike TOC.
13. (33) Etiwanda 5-1
Another team that makes a huge jump is the Eagles’ girls and head coach Anders Anderson. They opened with an OT win over Windward and their lone loss is at Alemany with wins over Troy and Mater Dei on their resume as well going into a Tuesday night game at La Jolla Country Day.
14. (5) Salesian (Richmond) 4-2
The Pride lost 57-45 to host Iolani in their opener and 48-47 to Maryknoll of Honolulu in Hawaii at the Iolani Classic and according to neutral observers they were home-cooked in both games, particularly in the consolation championship game 1-point loss to a Maryknoll team that is 1-1 against Iolani this season. Even so, the Pride must drop but not below Bishop’s because of strength of upcoming schedule.
15. (15) Bishop’s (La Jolla) 6-0
The competition has been a little light so where the Knights’ girls fall with teams that have losses to ranked teams is tough to figure right now, but with Destiny Littleton in the spotlight with her assault on the all-time state scoring record, head coach Marlon Wells and his girls have to get some respect so they stay put for now.
16. (7) Windward (Los Angeles) 4-2
The Wildcats have a 75-64 loss to Etiwanda and a 44-37 loss to Harvard-Westlake but they have a 75-67 win over Gardena Serra that is in the mix with Harvard-Westlake and Fairmont Prep and just pinned a 52-38 loss on preseason No. 8 and host La Jolla Country Day.
17. (31) Serra (Gardena) 5-3
The Cavaliers are the best 3-loss team in the state and because of it get a huge boost. All three of their defeats are to teams ranked above them, including 75-67 to the Windward team right above them, and none were by double-digits, plus they have wins over Ventura, Chaminade and Mater Dei.
18. (16) Ventura 4-1
It was tough to drop head coach Ann Larson and her girls but a 3-point win over Harvard-Westlake is complicated by a 23-point loss to Gardena Serra, and the fact that the team has three losses and the margin of defeat must keep the Cougars behind Serra for now.
19. (26) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 2-1
The schedule is a little light going into the Mike Desper Division of the Nike TOC and the loss was by a bunch to No. 1 Mitty but they get the nod over Carondelet for one of the last two spots based on a 62-49 win over Pinewood that dropped that team to the bubble.
20. (19) McClatchy (Sacramento) 5-0
The top team from the Metro Sacramento area is unbeaten but their best win is 51-47 win over West Campus of Sacramento. They could have dropped out in favor of 3-loss defending Open champion Chaminade, or a Carondelet team that has played a tougher schedule, but we will wait to see what they do in the Oak Ridge tourney and the Platinum division of the West Coast Jamboree. Others considered for the final spots and are knocking on the door are defending CIFD2 state champion Brea Olinda and Stockton Lincoln, plus a few others that could come in soon.
Dropped out from pre-season Top 20:
Previous No. 8 La Jolla Country Day, No. 11 Chaminade-West Hills, No. 12 Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills), No. 13 Troy (Fullerton), No. 14 Pinewood (Los Altos Hills)
Teams On the Bubble
(in alphabetical order)
Brea Olinda (Brea) 4-0
Brookside Christian (Stockton) 6-1
Buena (Ventura) 8-0
Campolindo (Moraga) 5-2
Carondelet (Concord) 4-1
Chaminade (West Hills) 5-3
Elk Grove 5-1
Esperanza (Anaheim) 7-1
La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 2-3
Lakeside (Lake Elsinore) 3-1
Lincoln (Stockton) 5-0
Lutheran (Orange) 4-1
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 4-4
Miramonte (Orinda) 3-1
Modesto Christian (Modesto) 5-2
Mount Miguel (Spring Valley) 5-1
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 3-3
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 3-3
Palisades (Pacific Palisades) 4-4
Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 4-2
St. Francis (Mountain View) 6-0
Sonora (La Habra) 5-0
Troy (Fullerton) 1-3
Vanden (Fairfield) 1-1
Village Christian (Sun Valley) 10-0
Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 6-2
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