This group of leading girls hoops teams in the state for the 2022-23 season is led off by defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champion Oak Ridge. We also have a state champion in D2 from last season, a team with a player looking to move up big-time on the all-time career scoring list and at least one team that forced its way up onto the list by already winning a tournament this week.
Note: We hope you enjoy this free post. During the season, all of our 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 girls basketball content, including state stat stars and updated state records please CLICK HERE.
For a look at the teams we’ve ranked from No. 1 to No. 20, CLICK HERE.
To see updated girls basketball state records in all team and individual categories before the 2022-23 season really gets going, CLICK HERE.
CAL-HI SPORTS STATE TOP 40 PRESEASON RANKINGS
(Final expanded ranking listed from last season in parentheses and with last season’s record listed)
(*Not including forfeits)
21. (12) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 25-6
The defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions, the first team to win that title since 2007 other than Stockton St. Mary’s, takes a big drop and goes from No. 1 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to No. 4, but head coach Stephen White loses a ton of talent starting with Teagan Brown (Washington) and Elle Ray. The good news is 10 players return and White appears to have a budding star in sophomore guard Sofia Williams, who came up big as a freshman on the road at Pinewood in the Trojans’ NorCal Open Division first round victory. White, who is a proven winner, now has 634 career wins according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book to move into the top spot in Sac-Joaquin Section history.
22. (29) St. Joseph (Santa Maria) 22-5
The Lady Knights had their best season last year since 2011 when Aly Beebe led them to the Division III state championship before moving on to Stanford. The program began re-building under former head coach and 2010 graduate Analise Riezebos, who was a senior on the Lady Knights in 2010 when Beebe was a sophomore, and the torch has been passed to current first-year head coach Kristina Santiago, a Santa Maria Righetti star that went on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. They lost in the first round of the state CIF Division I Southern Regional playoffs to eventual champion Windward, but this year’s team looks better. The Knights lose Andrea Stajic, but returns one of the top juniors in Northern or Southern California, silky smooth left-handed 6-foot guard Avery Cain. She averaged 18.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game, and over the summer looked improved. Juniors Kai Oani (9.8 ppg) and Candace Kpetikou (9.8 ppg) are two other players to look for as well as sophomore Mia Matautia.
23. (26) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 23-6
The top team from the Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section moves up three spots from where it finished in the final rankings. Head coach Monica Mertle and her Cardinals were placed in the Open Division for the NCS playoffs as the No. 4 seed, and they had visiting No. 5 seed Bishop O’Dowd on the ropes but couldn’t seal the deal. For the CIF Northern Regional playoffs, they were seeded No. 7 in Division I and nearly pulled off the upset before bowing out in a 4-point loss to St. Mary’s in the second round. Mertle loses leading scorer Reese Searcy plus another senior, but 10 talented girls return led by blossoming sophomore Kate Schat. She finished as a freshman with 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
24. (35) Sage Hill (Newport Beach) 27-10
This team played as tough a non-league schedule as any D2 team in the state and it paid off in the end with a 51-47 victory over San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno in the CIF Division II state championship. The Lightning had losses to Corona Centennial, Mission Hills, Oak Ridge, Mater Dei, and Sierra Canyon, and head coach Kerwin Walters and his girls only received the No. 6 seed in the D2 SoCal regional playoffs. From there on, however, Sage Hill ran the table. The good news for Sage Hill fans is 10 of the 14 players on the roster return, including state final stars Emily Eadie and Kat Ringheimer.
25. (NR) Santiago (Corona) 24-10
After winning the CIF Southern Section 2A championship last season with a victory over Ontario Christian, the Sharks were made the top seed in the CIF Southern Regional Division II playoffs where they eventually lost 43-41 in the SoCal title game to the Sage Hill team they fall in behind for this year’s preseason.
There’s always someone that slips through the cracks and Santiago likely should have been in the final expanded rankings, but they land a solid spot here. The good news for Sharks’ fans is head coach Michael Mitchell returns his entire roster led by junior Rylee Gent (16.1 ppg) and McKinley Willardson (12.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg), plus others, including sophomore Jayda Cobbs and senior Sierra Macias. Santiago is coming to Northern California to play in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree to prepare for the playoffs when Mitchell hopes Etiwanda transfer Destiny Agubata could potentially return from a knee injury.
26. (23) Valley Christian (San Jose) 21-8
The Warriors girls went 6-4 in the ultra-tough West Catholic Athletic last season, plus they had wins over Vanden and Cardinal Newman. Their season ended in a 7-point loss to Bishop O’Dowd in the CIF Division I second round of the NorCal playoffs, but all in all it was a good season for head coach Chris McSwain and his girls. Valley Christian loses three spots from its finish in last season’s final rankings, but still check in as the WCAL’s No. 2 team. Jael Butler is off to Morgan State but McSwain returns two solid seniors, Synise Byrd (7.8 ppg) and Olive Batch (6.2 ppg) plus several other players that should be contributors on a deep squad.
27. (NR) Bonita Vista (Chula Vista) 18-12
The Barons were ranked last year but by the final expanded rankings they had fallen off the radar screen. Now with no seniors and everyone returning and looking “real nice” according to head coach Tristan Lamb, Bonita Vista jumps right into the thick of things.
The young Barons still only have two seniors on the roster, guard Alyssa Alvarado, who was second on the team with a 15.9 points per game average, and the coach’s daughter, point guard Kaylynn Buchanon Lamb, third at 12.3 points per contest, and tied for first with 8.3 rebounds per game, plus she led team in assists and steals with 5.2 and 3.9, respectively. The top returner is junior guard Mahliya Wilson. She led the team in scoring and tied in rebounding with 20.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, respectively, plus Wilson added 3.7 steals per game. Junior forward Haydee Arancibia-Hardwick was solid last season as well with 6.3 rebounds and 4.5 points per contest.
28. (NR) San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 27-7
This squad actually had a head-to-head win over Corona Santiago but neither ended up being included in last season’s final expanded rankings, and for the preseason rankings we see them a couple of notches below that team. Like Santiago, the Panthers are playing in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree, just like they did last year when they put a scare in the nation’s No. 2 team last year before falling 61-56 to Texas DeSoto. They also only lost by a point in a season opener to Stockton St. Mary’s. Just about the entire roster returns for new head coach Geoffrey Clayton led by Fresno State – committed Meadow Roland and the double-double 19.2 points and 11.0 rebounds she had last season. Clayton inherits a loaded roster and two other players to look for are the sophomore duo of 6-foot-3 post Alexis Swillis and sharpshooting guard Saiya Sidhu, who made 68 three-pointers last season. Clayton also will have his daughter in the lineup, junior point guard Jailynn Clayton who played last year at JSerra of San Juan Capistrano. Note: Team already has a win over Turlock.
29. (NR) Westlake (Westlake Village) 17-7
The Warriors’ girls are an example of a team that has to come into the preseason rankings after falling short of making the Final Expanded Rankings from last season based on the fact that games have started in the CIF Southern Section on November 14 and head coach Josh Budde and his girls are 4-0 and that includes a win over Granada Hills Charter. Budde lost his top two scorers to graduation but junior and third-leading scorer Lindsay Gould (10.4 ppg) returns. Several other solid contributors return including junior Devin Feiereisen, senior Alyssa Jackson and sophomore Taylor Swanson, but so far out of the gate the leading scorer and rebounder at a double-double 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game is 6-foot-2 freshman Mathis Dritz.
30. (31) Granada Hills Charter (Granada Hills) 24-4
The school with the second-highest enrollment in the state (4,650), and the high school of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway graduated from, moves up a spot from where it finished in the final rankings. The top-ranked school from the Los Angeles City Section had its season ended last season in the second round of the CIF Division I Southern Regional playoffs but head coach Jared Honig has a solid group of returning underclass players led by two juniors, leading scorer Marianne Boco, a point guard who averaged 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.1 assists per game, and second leading scorer and leading rebounder Emma Perez. The Highlanders’ center averaged 9.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Note: Team has started 3-1 after loss to Westlake.
31. (40) Westchester (Los Angeles) 17-12
We have put the Comets 9-spots higher than just snagging the final spot in last year’s final expanded rankings, and they look to deserve it. Westchester did go out as the No. 8 seed in the opening round of the CIF Division I Southern Regionals but that was then and this is now. We did say Westchester was a team to look for this season and that’s why we’re starting them out nine spots higher. The biggest reason is head coach Dominic Grimes returns his top four scorers, junior Mariah Blake, seniors Ron’yae Jackson and Rylei Waugh and sophomore Reigne Waugh. Note: The Comets already have started 4-0, including a 58-57 win over bubble team Alemany of Mission Hills.
32. (NR) Mount Miguel (Spring Valley) 19-9
Head coach Robbie Sandoval has had ranked teams in the past and this year’s team earns a spot in the expanded preseason rankings by virtue of the fact the Matadors return a ton of talent from a team that lost in the CIF Southern Regional Division I first round to a Garden Grove Orangewood Academy team that will be in rebuilding mode this season. The three leading returners are leading scorer and senior Jennifer Moreno (18.3 ppg), senior and second-leading scorer Ixchel Rojo, and senior Zanna Hurst (8.8 ppg).
33. (36) Heritage (Brentwood) 17-8
The Patriots lost to San Ramon Valley of Danville in the CIF North Coast Section Open Division and then to Cardinal Newman in the consolation game, and then their season ended in the CIF Northern Regional Division I playoffs to Vanden, but those teams are ranked ahead of them to start 2022-23 with the exception of San Ramon Valley, and that team lost just about everyone to graduation. What first-year head coach Mark Hurtado does have is senior Amanda Muse, and she’s considered one of the top post players in the state. The 6-foot-4 UCLA-committed 4-Star recruit averaged 17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game last season. Two other players to look for are the junior duo of Kendall McClure and Ashley McNabb. Heritage will be hosting the Diamond Division of the West Coast Jamboree.
34. (NR) Ontario Christian 31-5
The Knights were awarded the No. 2 seed in the CIF Southern Regional Division II playoffs last season and made it all the way to the title game before falling 61-56 to eventual D2 state champion Sage Hill. That finish along with who they return gets them a spot in these preseason expanded rankings. The key returner is senior Chloe Briggs. Her scoring at 22.7 points per game was down a bit last season as she shared the ball and registered 9.1 assists, but she also went for 11.0 rebounds per game. Briggs comes into the season with 2,629 career points and 317 three-pointers. If she has a similar season to last year with 704 points and 106 three-pointers, that could get her close to No. 5 all time in career according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book and No. 2 in the Inland Empire to the 3,446 points of the legendary Cheryl Miller, who set that mark from 1979-1982 at Riverside Poly. A bigger year would get her higher on that list. Also, if she cracks the 400 made three-pointers mark, she would join seven other players on that list.
35. (NR) Brentwood (Los Angeles) 22-12
The Eagles had two losses to Ontario Christian, including one in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section 2A playoffs, but in the CIF Southern Regional Division II playoffs they posted a 60-56 victory over CIFSS Division 2AA champion Orange Lutheran before bowing out 74-69 to a La Jolla Bishop’s team that lost everyone to graduation. Brentwood is led by senior and leading scorer Amber Furch, but head coach Charles Solomon returns four other players who averaged over 8.0 points per game, including sophomore guard and leading rebounder Lev Feiman who averaged8.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Note: The team has begun 3-0, including a win over Windward.
36. (16) Windward (Los Angeles) 23-11
There’s a fresh new face at the helm of the Wildcats but Jerica Williams is no stranger to Southern California girls and women’s basketball. The past two seasons Williams was the head coach at Detroit Country Day in Michigan, and both years led her team to the Division 2 final four in the state. After starring at Spring Valley Mount Miguel, Williams played collegiately at UCLA and San Diego State. Prior to Detroit Country Day, she assisted at Mount Miguel, Prestonwood Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas, Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood, and Cal State Northridge. Williams inherits a defending CIF Southern Regional Division I champion that returns its top player, Princeton-bound senior Skye Belker. Promising sophomore Samari Bankhead is lost for the season but Williams, who is molding a defensive focused team, has several other solid contributors, including junior Laurel Hinds and sophomore Olivia Lagao. Note: Windward has a 71-61 loss already to Brentwood but has a win over Buchanan of Clovis (which beat Chaminade).
37. (NR) Orange Lutheran (Orange) 24-9
The No. 4 team in the Orange County Register preseason rankings holds down the same spot in our expanded preseason rankings. The defending CIF-SS Division 2AA champion Lancers fall in behind the Brentwood team that defeated them 60-56 in the CIF Southern Regional Division II playoffs. Head coach Lindsay Charity gets back most everyone and OLu will be solid in the paint and up top as well, which means they’ll have a strong combination of forwards and guards. Junior post Sheridan Kennedy and junior forward Taliyah McFerson will lead the frontcourt while senior guard Madi Bogan and junior point guard Shea Joko lead the backcourt.
38. (38) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 27-5
The Wildcats hold tight in the preseason expanded rankings from the spot where they finished in the final expanded rankings from last season. After winning the CIF North Coast Section Division IV championship with a 63-51 victory over Piedmont, Marin Catholic was sent to Division I for the Northern Regional playoffs where it lost for a second time to a St. Ignatius (San Francisco) team that has lost almost everyone to graduation. All in all it was a great season for head coach Ashley Saia and her girls who return some solid talent led by the top player in the Redwood Empire portion of the NCS, senior Gracyn Lovette, and she looked very good this past summer.
39. (15) San Ramon Valley (Danville) 26-5
As is the case with most public schools, San Ramon Valley only gets the players from the community the school serves, and because of that head coach John Cristiano doesn’t have a real pipeline, so the run during the career of Natalie Pasco, now at Boise State, and graduated Sadie Carter, is over. Even so, the word among top coaches in the NCS is Cristiano has a lot of scrappy girls who can play, led by flashy junior guard Sierra Chambers. Considering what they lost, the drop-off is huge from the final expanded rankings, but not completely out of the preseason expanded rankings.
40. (NR) Esperanza (Anaheim) 20-8
The Aztecs were ranked at one point last season but went through a period where a couple of questionable losses dropped them out. When looking at the suspects for the final spot in the expanded preseason rankings we decided to go with the No. 5 team in the preseason rankings of the Orange County Register. Senior and third-leading scorer Julia Lavigne has transferred to Ontario Christian, and second-leading scorer Alyssa Kubo has graduated, but Esperanza still has a lot of girls who can play led by senior guard and leading scorer Kaiya Mack and her 17.0 points per game last season
PRESEASON TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE
Bishop’s (La Jolla) 17-8
Canyon (Canyon Country) 22-9
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 22-6
Chaminade (West Hills) 22-10
Del Norte (San Diego) 22-11
El Camino (Oceanside) 21-5
Fairmont Prep (Anaheim) 18-13
Hart (Newhall) 21-8
Lincoln (Stockton) 22-10
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 23-6
McClatchy (Sacramento) 20-7
Monte Vista (Danville) 24-10
North (Torrance) 18-5
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 25-4
Orangewood Academy (Garden Grove) 24-9*
St. Francis (Mountain View) 17-9
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 21-9
San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano) 20-9
Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita)17-8
Sonora (La Habra)20-7
Viewpoint (Calabasas) 20-8
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