Congrats to all the section champions and those looking to bounce back in the regional as California has reached its “win or go home” portion of the season. As the regional playoffs kick off, our Top 5 remain the same, since our rankings do not always match the NorCal and SoCal regional seedings. There’s one newcomer this week in the most in-depth boys basketball rankings across the state, as we explain our movement in depth and why our award-winning rankings don’t always match seedings (or computer rankings).
CAL-HI SPORTS UPDATED TOP 20
BOYS BASKETBALL STATE RANKINGS
(Previous rating in parentheses; through games of Saturday, Feb. 23)
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1. (1) Salesian (Richmond) 31-0
The Pride did what was fully expected of them, capturing the CIF North Coast Section crown with a 64-53 victory over Campolindo of Moraga. It was the third consecutive year that Salesian has beat Campo for the section D3 crown and is the program’s fourth consecutive section crown overall. Salesian jumped out to 27-11 lead and it looked like the game was going to be a big blowout, but Campolindo fought back behind the play of freshman Aidan Mahaney, who finished with 23 points. Although Mahaney scored big, The Pride’s defense did a good job on leading scorer David Ahazie, limiting him to 11 points, eight points below his average. Senior Jovan McClanahan, a contributor on all four section title teams, and Jaden Lazo had 13 points each to pace a balanced attack. Earlier in the week, Salesian downed St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda in the semifinals, 64-53, as sophomore big man Te’Jon Sawyer had 19 points. As expected, coach Bill Mellis’ club earned the top seed in the NorCal Open regionals and received a bye. Although the SoCal section commissioners and officials may not like the fact the NorCal teams don’t have the exact road to a CIF state championship, it wasn’t unexpected that the North only placed six teams in the open bracket. It has done it before and the North simply doesn’t have the depth of teams the South contains (even if you put the Central Section in the North). Salesian will face the Modesto Christian-Archbishop Mitty winner in the regional semifinals on March 2 and has hosting priority throughout the regional. Modesto Christian is favored and if those two play on Saturday remember that it was an overtime win for Salesian in an earlier meeting.