There is some shake-up at the top, as state preseason No. 2 Bishop Montgomery of Torrance has been battling injuries and drops to make room for battle-tested Rancho Christian of Temecula. The Knights have only lost to two teams quite familiar to those who’ve been following our rankings the past two decades: L.A. City Section powers Westchester and Fairfax. There are two newcomers this week, one from NorCal and one from SoCal, as we wanted to get an updated set of rankings out quickly as tournaments continue around the state on Monday afternoon.
CAL-HI SPORTS UPDATED TOP 20
BOYS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Preseason rating in parentheses; through games of Saturday, Dec. 1)
Note: The next Boys BB State Top 20 update will be in two weeks before the holiday tournaments commence. After the New Year, all of our award-winning writeups, analysis and predictions of what’s coming next will be content for our Gold Club VIPs only. To become a member of our Gold Club so you can check out all of our boys basketball content, including state record updates and player rankings in each class, CLICK HERE.
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1. (1) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 5-0
The defending CIF Open Division champions haven’t played anyone of note just yet, but will pick up the competition level this week at its own holiday invitational versus red-hot Camarillo, No. 9 Centennial and bubble clubs Notre Dame of Riverside and Santa Clarita Christian.
2. (3) Rancho Christian (Temecula) 4-0
The Eagles, who are playing one of the nation’s top schedules, defeated three preseason state ranked teams to win the BattleZone Tournament, including host No. 9 Centennial in the title game, 56-54, on two clutch free throws by USC recruit Isaiah Mobley with 1.2 seconds remaining. Coach Ray Barefield’s club faces Simeon of Chicago and Pinnacle of Phoenix at Hoophall West in Arizona.
3. (4) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 5-0
Head coach Matt Dunn’s team won the El Monte Tournament, defeated preseason No. 29 St. Anthony of Long Beach (67-64) and is next headed to the Father Barry Classic at Carmichael Jesuit.
4. (5) Sheldon (Sacramento) 1-0
The nationally-ranked Huskies showed great depth and athleticism in their season-opening 89-66 victory over preseason No. 37 St. Bernard of Playa del Rey at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic. That team, however, hasn’t been impressive since, so we’ll find out more about Sheldon at the upcoming Gridley Invitational and the Tarkanian Classic.
5. (6) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 3-1
The Monarchs played in the Chicago Elite Classic over the weekend and lost to the No. 1 team in the Windy City, Whitney Young, 67-61. The Dolphins came in at No. 33 in the latest FAB 50 national rankings and Mater Dei, which was led by Ryan Evans with 22 points, was No. 48.
6. (8) Westchester (Los Angeles) 4-0
The Comets won their own Trevor Ariza Tip-Off Classic, defeating preseason No. 2 Bishop Montgomery in the title game, 65-55, after defeating tough L.A. Washington Prep in the semifinals, 63-45. Unsigned senior Jordan Brinson led the way with 26 points and five assists and Kaelen Allen (last year’s L.A City Section Player of the Year who was granted another year of eligibility) was named all-tourney.
7. (10) Fairfax (Los Angeles) 8-0
Like many other times over the years, the Lions and Westchester are back-to-back near the top of our state rankings, as head coach Steve Baik’s club won the Ryse Williams Pac Shores Tourney and came back to win the Rose City Roundball Classic with a 58-49 win over preseason No. 19 Poly of Riverside. The win over Poly was impressive considering Fairfax won without forward Daylen Williams (injury) and Keith Dinwiddie (30-Day).
8. (2) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 6-2
The team we envisioned as preseason state No. 2 is not the team the Knights have put on the floor so far, as Oregon State-bound Gianni Hunt and forward Nick Schrader battle injuries and Isaiah Johnson is still sitting out the 30-day period. It also may turn out there is no shame in losing tourney championship games to L.A. City Section powers Fairfax (Ryse Williams Pac Shores) or Westchester (Trevor Ariza Tip-Off).
9. (16) Centennial (Corona) 5-1
Coach Josh Giles’ fast and tough team has quality wins over preseason No. 21 Notre Dame of Riverside (74-68), No. 32 Etiwanda (81-70) and No. 14 Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley (57-48) and had a lead for a majority of the game on current No. 2 Rancho Christian in the title game of its own BattleZone Tourney. Centennial, which was led by junior sharp-shooter D.J. Davis with 26 points, led 48-42 entering the final period and lost on two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining.
10. (13) Chino Hills 3-1
Onyeka Okongwu, last year’s Mr. Basketball as a junior, had some monster games to lead the defending CIF D1 champs to third place at the BattleZone Tournament. He went for 27 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in a 80-73 triple OT win over No. 15 Rancho Verde for third place and had 26 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks battling his travel ball friends Isaiah and Evan Mobley in a 72-67 semifinal loss to No. 2 Rancho Christian.
11. (32) Etiwanda 9-1
This is the one team we undervalued in our preseason evaluations, and we reward “Clamp City” for its results so far whereas we’re waiting to get more results before making big moves with some of the state’s other top-ranked teams. The Eagles’ only loss is to No. 9 Centennial (81-70) and they have a plethora of offensive weapons on the perimeter, including much improved Camren Pierce and Cajon of San Bernardino transfer D.J. Jackson.
12. (12) Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) 6-2
The Eagles’ losses to preseason No. 25 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (74-62) and to regionally-ranked Clark of Las Vegas (63-51) are offset by wins over preseason No. 7 Modesto Christian at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic and over Coronado of Henderson, which is the third best team in the Las Vegas Valley.
13. (11) San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 2-1
Junior guard Jalen Green had two terrific outings as the Panthers won two big games at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest in Dallas to open the season, but had a downer when San Joaquin Memorial lost at home to No. 18 Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, 68-65. San Joaquin Memorial has a big opportunity to make amends this Thursday on national television versus Nico Mannion and Pinnacle of Phoenix at Hoophall West.
14. (7) Modesto Christian 1-1
Coach Brice Fantazia’s club trailed early, only to come roaring back to take the lead 53-51, before losing to No. 12 Santa Margarita, 72-66, at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic. We still don’t have any evidence any other club is No. 2 behind Sheldon in the NorCal pecking order, but we have questions of just how big the gap is between Sheldon and the rest of the NorCal Open contenders.
15. (14) Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 7-3
Tory San Antonio and Grid-Hoop stud Jaxen Turner form a terrific 1-2 punch for a team that lost to No. 11 Etiwanda before Turner finished up with football. The Mustangs came in fourth place at the BattleZone Tourney after losing to No. 9 Centennial (57-48) in the semifinals and to No. 10 Chino Hills (80-73) in three overtimes.
16. (20) Salesian (Richmond) 3-0
The Pride have won three non-tournament games to open the season and are entering the 65th Annual Gridley Invitational, where they open with the host and could face No. 4 Sheldon in the title game next Saturday.
17. (15) Orange Lutheran 7-2
The Lancers are a force when 6-foot-11 Makur Maker is making an impact and are average when he’s not playing well or out of the lineup. They lost to No. 10 Chino Hills by a point (50-49) when Maker had 24 points and nine rebounds. He didn’t play when OLU lost to Foothills Christian but was raining outside shots when the Lancers throttled St. Bernard of Playa del Rey, 83-50.
18. (NR) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 2-0
We noticed Dragons’ head coach Lou Ritchie at a football game last Saturday walking with a little pep in his step and here’s why: A breakout performance from junior Monty Bowser (21 points, 13 rebounds) helped in a 60-58 win over preseason No. 35 Grant of Sacramento at the NorCal Tip-Off Classic and Ritchie’s team beat preseason No. 11 San Joaquin Memorial on the road, 68-65, on a 3-pointer by sophomore Marsalis Roberson. Eventually that road win will be a bigger rankings factor for both clubs.
19. (18) St. Augustine (San Diego) 2-1
Our preseason No. 2 team from the CIF San Diego Section (behind 2-2 Mission Bay) was throttled by top-ranked Sierra Canyon, 86-40, in the title game of the San Diego Tip-Off Challenge. We need more results in order to get a better idea of how good the Saints are and what that point-differential means.
20. (19) Poly (Riverside) 3-1
The Bears fell in the title game of the Rose City Roundball Classic to No. 7 Fairfax, 58-49, despite a game-high 22 points for junior guard Lamont Butler.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 9 Mission Bay (San Diego), No. 17 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood).
Teams On The Bubble:
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 1-0
Brentwood (Los Angeles) 7-0
Clovis West (Fresno) 5-0
Damien (La Verne) 7-1
Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 2-2
Grant (Sacramento) 0-1
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 2-2
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 3-1
Mayfair (Lakewood) 0-1
Mission Bay (San Diego) 3-2
Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 2-0
Notre Dame (Riverside) 3-2
Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 6-2
Santa Clarita Christian 5-2*
St. Anthony (Long Beach) 4-4
St. Mary’s (Stockton) 3-1
Taft (Woodland Hills) 4-0
Torrey Pines (San Diego) 5-0
Washington Prep (Los Angeles) 5-3