Before we get another week started (and yes there will be updated rankings this week in baseball and softball as we also dig deep to compile all of the final rankings in boys & girls basketball), we thought it would be important to spell out some of the many impacts on our final 2019-20 basketball season honors and rankings with the CIF state championships being cancelled. The Coronavirus crisis also may be much worse for California prep spring sports athletes, however, and we’ve already thought about how we will continue to provide content recognizing them.
This is a free post for CalHiSports.com. Final state rankings for both boys and girls basketball as well as some of the upcoming all-state teams plus state record updates as they arise will be for Gold Club members only. We’re in our 41st year of doing weekly rankings in football, boys & girls basketball, baseball and softball. If you’re not a member, CLICK HERE.
(Editor Mark Tennis also contributed to this column)
RANKINGS Boys/Girls Basketball
When we do our final team rankings, we look at the totality of the season and not just the previous week. Teams are judged first and foremost against the team that won the final game of the year, meaning the CIF open champ or the champ in each respective CIF division.
For this year’s final rankings, without the last game (and in the case of NorCal Open boys finalists Sheldon of Sacramento and Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland the last two games), that makes a big difference in the final analysis of those teams. It also affects the teams O’Dowd and Sheldon recorded big wins against, or lost to. This year’s final rankings will be more gently influenced on the prior week’s rankings because of the uncertainty of the results that never took place.
In the scheduled CIF Open Division championship for the girls, La Jolla Country Day was favored against Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. That’s mainly due to a head-to-head win the Torreys got over the Monarchs in December. Sure, Mitty literally was a different team (one of the top players had yet to come back from knee surgery) in March, but in the rankings it will naturally revert to the earlier contest.
O’Dowd is likely the team influenced the most among the boys teams. The Dragons moved up from No. 16 to No. 9 in last week’s state Top 25 and were confident going into the Sheldon game. Even a good showing in a loss against Sheldon could have moved them up a spot, especially if Ribet Academy was upset by Campolindo of Moraga in the D1 state final.
There is also a question of what would have occurred if Riordan of San Francisco, the No. 1 seed in the NorCal D1 boys playoffs, wasn’t removed from the regional and unable to even get to play bubble club De La Salle of Concord in the regional semifinals. Riordan’s basketball community is just devastated it could not finish its season on the court.
Similar to the open division, three teams in Division I also ended the season with a win. As one coach mentioned, it’s a disappointment that happened, but two of those teams in each division would have ended the season with a loss, which increases the chances of those teams dropping a few positions in the final rankings.
In a quick analysis of the final overall rankings, teams will be ranked based more on what round of the regional bracket they reached, rather than the totality of the season because the bracket was never completed. Also, NorCal teams will be hurt more greatly than their SoCal counterparts by the Coronavirus-influenced decision to halt the state tournament before the championship round.
There is no secret CIF Southern Section teams dominated this site’s state rankings this year for the boys, as all six of the SoCal open entrants hailed from the state’s largest section. In the Open, D1 and D2 state finals, the SoCal team was going to come into the game as the higher ranked club, so no state championships mean no opportunity for an upset of a higher ranked team.
There was La Jolla Country Day mixed in with the CIFSS Open teams in the south for the girls and the head-to-head factor in D1 girls favors the NorCal team in that case since Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland had a win during the season over their opponent, defending champion Rosary of Fullerton.
The possible upset in any bracket also not only pulls up the winning team in the final rankings, but potentially pulls up with it another team or two it beat in the NorCal or SoCal regional bracket.
There will be new State Top 25 rankings for both baseball and softball this week and there will be a new No. 1 team in baseball with De La Salle of Concord falling in baseball last Thursday to CIF Sac-Joaquin Section No. 1 team Jesuit of Carmichael.
Beyond that, however, it’s unknown and looking less and less likely that any more high school baseball or softball will even be played for the rest of the season. The CIF’s 10 section commissioners are meeting on Tuesday to discuss that, among other issues, relating to the coronavirus crisis. We have seen at least one school district, the William S. Hart High School District in the Santa Clarita Valley, put a halt to all high school athletic events until April 30, which effectively is the end of its regular season in both sports. Teams in that district already have reacted on their social media pages as if the season is done.
With such a small sample size, if the current season is indeed done everywhere like it is in the Santa Clarita Valley, we wouldn’t be able to name a State Team of the Year but at some point the rankings that are done would be expanded out to 40 teams and those would in essence serve as final rankings (with a massive asterisk attached).
ALL-STATE TEAMS & HONORS:
Basketball, Baseball & Softball
If there is no more baseball and softball, those sports and those seniors will be hit hardest when it comes to post-season honors and our annual all-state teams. And unlike NCAA athletes, they won’t be able to petition for their senior year back.
In fact, some will be lucky if there is even a senior prom at their schools. Luckily, a vast majority of California’s boys and girls basketball teams completed their seasons on the court and postseason honors will essentially be the same as other seasons.
There will be an all-state nomination process, starting this week, with Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball finalists named, State Coaches of the Year selected, Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball winners announced and our annual all-state team with 30 players on the overall team regardless of CIF Division or graduating class.
The nomination process will be more important this season, however, because the state’s best players and teams did not have one big last game (or potentially two last big games) than they would in a normal season.
In the case of the Riordan of San Francisco boys and Menlo School of Atherton girls, they potentially missed out on three big games that could have helped their individual players in overall evaluations. Therefore, we encourage coaches and parents to nominate players because there will be a few less pillars, particularly a monster CIF state final performance, to judge individuals on.
Simply put, there are less measurements we normally would use to evaluate a player’s all-state candidacy for this season. Already it’s been announced the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American Game will not be held this year, so our state’s elite players also won’t be able to close out their careers enjoying the festivities and opportunities that those type of all-star games provide.
It’s no secret NorCal doesn’t have one of its stronger crops of boys teams or players that we’ve seen over the years, so the Coronavirus pandemic really hurts players north of the Grapevine. A big state championship performance is also a great resume builder, especially if its comes in an upset and we’ll never know if a player from the north could have had that achievement under his or her belt.
In the case of Marcus Bagley, the most talented player on NorCal No. 1 boys team Sheldon of Sacramento, monster games against O’Dowd and potentially Sierra Canyon could have been real eye openers. He already had a 27-point game in the NorCal regional semifinal. Same thing for Sheldon’s Xavion Brown (whose overall contributions are underrated), or a player such as sophomore guard Aidan Mahaney of Campolindo vs. Ribet Academy in D1. Same holds true for the Riordan backcourt of Bryce Monroe and JeLani Clark.
For the girls, especially based on what she did in last year’s CIF state finals in D4 with 24 rebounds, Oakland Tech’s Stephanie Okowi would be one player who might have missed out on having another great outing in a state final. She and the Bulldogs were supposed to play Palisades (Pacific Palisades) in this year’s D2 championship.
Baseball and softball is going to be much more challenging.
As with the team rankings explained above, there is just not going to be enough of a sample size to choose all-state teams the way we have been doing them for 40 years. If the entire season is done, as feared, some players will have only played two or three games at all. At that point, it’s not an all-state team but just a recruiting list based on summer events.
That doesn’t mean we will completely forget about this year’s seniors. As a result of the pandemic, they are the ones who are going to be denied so many experiences that seniors for decades have enjoyed. Instead of official all-state teams in baseball and softball, we’ve already talked about doing a series of senior salutes to those players who probably would have been all-state if their seasons were not shut down way too early. We wouldn’t put any of those senior salutes behind the Gold Club membership wall, either.
The web site we do will have other changes relating to coverage, but the posts instead may be more historical in nature than more based on games being played and events being held.