There is a new No. 1 ranked team in the state for the second consecutive week after big-game Bishop Montgomery of Torrance takes down previous No. 1 Rancho Christian of Temecula to tipoff CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play. Who is the new No. 1? Is it Sierra Canyon (the previous No. 1 and defending CIF Open Division state champion before losing to Rancho Christian) or Salesian of Richmond, which finished the regular season unbeaten? Let’s just say it’s the school that has never been ranked No. 1 in the state before. There also are two newcomers this week in the most in-depth boys basketball rankings across the state.
CAL-HI SPORTS UPDATED TOP 20
BOYS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Previous rating in parentheses; through games of Saturday, Feb. 9)
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1. (3) Salesian (Richmond) 27-0
For the second consecutive week, there is a new state No. 1 after previous No. 1 Rancho Christian was stunned and fell in its CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play opener versus No. 7 Bishop Montgomery. This was, of course, one game after the Eagles knocked off previous No. 1 Sierra Canyon in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to end the regular season. We contemplated putting Sierra Canyon back at No. 1, but the result of that No. 1 vs. No. 2 game is still fresh and Sierra Canyon can’t pop right back in front of Rancho Christian after losing that head-to-head matchup. Yes, we know this may not change until the CIF Open Division state final, but The Pride is the new state No. 1. Salesian didn’t just post an unbeaten regular season, but played strong enough competition outside of NorCal to warrant top billing now that Rancho Christian has five losses. Salesian dominated (77-59) the Sheldon team that Bishop Montgomery lost to, won the Chick-Fil-A Classic in South Carolina versus strong competition and handed the only loss of the season so far to FAB 50 ranked Curie of Chicago in a game played in Kentucky. Now, we realize Salesian isn’t going to be playing close to the top competition its counterparts in the CIFSS are, but the results dictate The Pride take over at the top. It’s the first time in school history they’ve been No. 1 in the state. Last week, coach Bill Mellis’ club won the TCAL-Rock title game with a 60-43 victory over Albany. Sophomore big man Te’Jon Sawyer led the way with 17 points, while fast-rising junior Shane Bell added 14. Salesian is the top seed in the North Coast Section D3 playoffs and open with a Kennedy of Fremont team that did not win one league game. That’s a joke, but it’s not Salesian’s fault and even though the team likely isn’t going to face a test until the NorCal Open Division playoffs it’s still the right move for this week.