Boys BB CIF State Previews & Picks

Sophomore standout Elias Obenyah looks to score for Salesian during CIF NorCal Open final earlier this week vs Archbishop Riordan. The Pride will look to make some history on Saturday in Sacramento. Photo: Willie Eashman.

It was sub-par year for us doing predictions of state finals last year at 9-3 after a 11-1 showing from 2022. It’s time to take a crack at the 2024 lineup of games for boys basketball that will be played this weekend at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. We do this with respect to all 12 teams who’ve made it there and with a historical touch. Editor Mark Tennis has been credentialed at every CIF state championship weekend since the first one in 1980 in Oakland. Highlights from the regional finals (one played Wednesday night) also included in these previews.

Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on Next week’s final state rankings in all divisions, expanded overall final rankings and some of our exclusive upcoming all-state teams (including juniors, sophomores and frosh) will be for Gold Club members only. Sign up today for our Gold Club for $3.99 per month or as low as $2.08 per month for a yearly subscription. For details, CLICK HERE.

Note: Our lead boys basketball analyst, Ronnie Flores, did the breakdowns for Open Division boys and Division I boys. Editor and publisher Mark Tennis did the rest with help from Ronnie in D2.


(All games played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento)
(All state rankings references to State Top 35s, which were done before any of this week’s games)

Open Division (Boys)
State No. 1 Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (SoCal) 32-3 vs. State No. 4 Salesian of Richmond 31-1 (NorCal), Saturday, 8 pm

The 2023-24 CIF season will end in grand fashion in a matchup that has been anticipated for some time on two different fronts. For one, this game represents a matchup of the defending CIF open state champ representing SoCal vs. the team a majority of fans and media scribes feel has the best shot to give NorCal a chance at the state’s most prestigious title. In 12 years, the North is 1-8 all time vs. the South in the marquee game (there wasn’t CIF state finals in 2020 and 2021). The only win was Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland defeating four-time defending champ Mater Dei of Santa Ana in a memorable 2015 game in the Bay Area.

The Pride might hold the North’s best shot at victory since that Ivan Rabb-led team, but it won’t be easy by any means against a team that is on a mission to one-up last year’s Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year. Harvard-Westlake failed to reach the CIF Southern Section Open Division title game in 2022-23, and has had season-long goals to win the Mission League (which had three different teams reach No. 1 in the state rankings) title, the section open crown and repeat as CIF open champs. Coach Dave Rebibo’s club accomplished its first two goals, winning the CIFSS crown over state No. 2 Roosevelt of Eastvale, 54-47, the same team it defeated in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on Tuesday in the SoCal open final, 63-59. Secondly, outside of rankings and media attention, these two teams will look to settle a score in a rubber match of sorts.

David Rebibo is about to answer a question from the media after Harvard-Westlake’s win in last year’s CIF Open Division state final. Photo: Mark Tennis.

The CIF sanctioned its first-ever June scholastic NCAA live period event in 2023 and the two clubs met in the championship game of the top division of Cali Live ’23 at Irvine High School with the Pride coming out on top 56-53. A week later in the quarterfinals of top division of the Section 7 live period event in Arizona, Harvard-Westlake got its revenge in a big way, jumping on The Pride 17-7 after one period of play en route to a 62-49 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

Of course, both teams have matured and evolved since then, but one thing that remains constant is the spectacular play of Harvard-Westlake’s Trent Perry who has been particularly locked in since the Wolverines took back-to-back Mission League losses following a January East Coast swing. Perry, a McDonald’s All-American, had 42 points in his team’s 73-72 comeback win in the SoCal semifinals vs. No. 4 seed Carlsbad, the San Diego Section open champs. Against Roosevelt in the regional final, once again Harvard-Westlake trailed at halftime (35-25), and once again the USC-bound senior had a big second half. He scored 21 of his 28 points after intermission and when the game was on the line in the regional playoffs, he was nails. Perry converted 24-of-24 free throws in two, so Salesian will want to keep him off the line in the second half.

Look for Nik Khemenia two draw the defensive assignment on strongman Carlton Perrilliat, who led The Pride in scoring with 12 points in the NorCal open semifinal win over Modesto Christian and with 11 points in Tuesday’s 49-44 NorCal open final victory over state No. 9 Riordan of San Francisco. No, it’s not a typo and yes, no one else scored more than nine points vs. Riordan (Hawaii-bound Aaron Hunkin-Claytor did) as that’s how The Pride attack: with unselfish offense and unrelenting defense.

Salesian doesn’t make too many mistakes and can’t afford to against the most potent offensive team in the state that can hurt teams in multiple ways. Harvard-bound Robert Hinton is a big play-maker and should be able to handle Salesian’s pressure defense and Amir Jones and Christian Horry have been knocking down timely 3-pointers in the post-season. The number of 3-pointers that duo makes should be telling in the outcome of the game in which Salesian won’t rely on the deep ball very much.

Harvard-Westlake also have been locked in defensively, and Khemenia could switch to another assignment such as Obenyah or De’Undrae Perteete, if necessary. The problem for the Wolverines, and a good problem to have for Salesian, is everyone in the rotation can step up and make a bucket, with junior point forward Alving Loving IV being particularly big in the clutch moments all season long. Who can the Wolverines focus on defensively? Does it matter, because Salesian truly doesn’t care whom scores and has so many players that are capable shot-makers.

Salesian is one of the most unselfish, team-oriented team we’ve seen come down the pike in a long time and one of the most incredible two-fold statistics we’ve ever heard from a CIF championship level team is no one on Salesian averages in double-figures and the single-game individual scoring high total is the 19 points Perteete scored vs CIFSS D1 runner-up L.A. Windward in a tournament.

For a team to win a CIF open title without having anyone score 20 points once would be an incredible achievement, but its opponent is also unselfish.

Prediction: Harvard-Westlake 59, Salesian 55

Division I Boys
State No. 3 St. John Bosco of Bellflower 27-7 (SoCal) vs. State No. 16 San Ramon Valley of Danville 29-7 (NorCal), Friday, 8 p.m.

Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks came in to this game last year at No. 4 in the state, but this year the Braves are even ranked even higher, but so is the team that is representing the North. Granada of Livermore was No. 19 last year, but San Ramon Valley comes in three spots higher and actually prevented Granada from repeating as NorCal champs by knocking off its East Bay Athletic League rival in Tuesday’s regional title game, 58-55. It was the Wolves’ third straight victory over their EBAL rivals after losing the first matchup of the season, 60-58. Junior guard Mason Thomas and star wing Luke Isaak, also a junior, led the way with 17 points each to propel SRV for its fourth appearance in a CIF state title game.

San Ramon Valley point guard Keith Smith dishes for one of his eight assists in 2 OT win over Chino Hills during 2019 CIF D1 state final. Photo: Phillip Walton/SportStars.

Ironically, the last time coach Brian Botteen led this program to a state title game, in 2015 in D1, it was against future NBA guard Lonzo Ball and Chino Hills. His team finished in third place in the EBAL that season, so perhaps it’s a good omen because that team upset Chino Hills in overtime and this SRV club finished in third place behind NorCal open division entrant and North Coast Section open finalist De La Salle of Concord. That young Chino Hills team also finished in third place in its own league and Botteen’s club will once again face a team that didn’t win its league despite being the No. 3 ranked team in the state. For the second straight season in this division, it’s a matchup of two teams that failed to win league or section titles.

St. John Bosco lost twice to 11-time CIF state champ Mater Dei in the Southern Section’s Trinity League, but avenged those losses in a big way with a 71-68 overtime win over the Monarchs in Tuesday’s SoCal final. Similar to SRV, the Braves are hunting their second CIF state crown and first under coach Matt Dunn. In 2014, Derrick Taylor’s Braves won the D2 state crown and the next year while Botteen’s team upset Chino Hills, Dunn won his first state crown (in D3) at Damien of La Verne, the team that won the Baseline League crown over the Chino Hills team SRV defeated later that evening at Haas Pavilion.

It’s safe to say Dunn knows and respects Botteen’s program. In fact, he mentioned to Cal-Hi Sports how impressed he was with them back in December while watching them capture the Gold Division title for the second straight season at The Classic at Damien Tournament. SRV can light it up from the outside, moves well without the ball and can usually count on someone stepping up to make a big play or shot. The Wolves will need that type of performance from someone on Friday night as they come in as the underdog against a team that handed NorCal open champ Salesian its only loss at that same holiday tournament although there is something special about this SRV group that gives them more than an outside chance to win.

Isaak is a shot maker who plays under control and can score with the best in the state. Bosco will be keen to his prowess, so if he scores 20 or more points this should be a good game down the stretch. Senior forward Seamus Deely is a rock around the basket and can hurt teams in a variety of ways, while Thomas and junior Elliot Conley are two of the best candidates to step up and have a big game. Matt Diekmann is also a double-digit scorer who will team up with Deely to take advantage of the absence of Kade Bonam, Bosco’s most experienced interior player who has not played in the regional because of a bum shoulder.

After meager scoring outputs in the regional playoff games leading up to the Mater Dei rubber match, junior point guard Elzie Harrington led the way with 22 points, while making his final six free throws in a contest where a plethora were missed by both teams. Jack Turner, bound for Loyola-Chicago, is a four-year standout who can match SRV’s shooters shot-for-shot. If Turner puts up big numbers, look for sophomore Brandon McCoy to get some highlight plays that will spark Bosco because there will be some lanes open. The 6-foot-4 McCoy is the most explosive player who will be at the Golden 1 Center this weekend, and even though he struggled at the line versus Mater Dei (7-for-18), he still made a big impact on the game with his play-making ability. McCoy averaged 19.7 ppg and 11 rpg in the regional playoffs with many momentum-changing plays.

SRV lost to Salesian by 15 points (60-45) in the NCS open playoffs, but the Wolves have found their stride. They will play Bosco tougher than they played Salesian, but it still may be too much to overcome.

Prediction: St. John Bosco 67, San Ramon Valley 59

Players and coaches from Centennial of Bakersfield show off their CIF SoCal D2 championship honors after their win at Heritage Christian. Photo: @CentennialHawks /

Division II Boys
Centennial of Bakersfield 28-7 (SoCal) vs. Oakland Tech 29-5 (NorCal), Saturday 4 p.m.

With Oakland High alum and NBA All-Star MVP Damian Lillard in the gym, Oakland Tech advanced to its first CIF state final since 2003 when it got past its rivals from Oakland High, 73-66, on Tuesday in the NorCal final. One of the top Bay Area players, senior ArDarius Grayson, poured in 34 points for the Bulldogs. When Tech had the great Leon Powe in the early 2000s, it went to the D1 state finals two years in a row (2002, 2003) and didn’t win in either try. That was the top division in the CIF before the Open Division was added in 2013.

Grayson has a knack for clutch plays in the big moments, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Oakland in the OAL title game, 63-60, in a 27-point performance. Last season, Oakland beat Tech in the NorCal D3 final after losing to the Bulldogs three times before going on win the state title. Grayson also has plenty of help with the likes of Asher Kramer, Xan Meyer-Plettner, and Ahmed Gulaid, so the game will come down to execution and free throw shooting.

Centennial is making its first CIF state final appearance. A team from Bakersfield has won a CIF state title three times, including twice by Foothill of Bakersfield (1988, 2019). East Bakersfield also won a D2 state title in 1994. A CIF Central Section team from San Joaquin Memorial also won the state crown in this division last year. The Golden Hawks were road warriors in the SoCal bracket with wins at No. 2 seed Thousand Oaks in the quarterfinals and then at No. 1 seed Heritage Christian in Tuesday’s regional final, 68-56. Rippen Gill led the way on Tuesday with 17 points while Michael Gutierrez added 16.

Gill, a three-time league MVP, gets it done on both ends of the floor, as he sports averages of 18.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 4.2 spg and 1.4 bpg. Centennial also is a good 3-point shooting team and four 3-pointers from guard Michael Gutierrez (13.8 ppg, 3.0 spg) vs. Heritage Christian, while senior Godwill Fomusoh (11.3 ppg) is also capable of making a big difference vs. Oakland Tech.

After the win on Tuesday, Centennial players and coaches credited the confidence they gained by playing in a 71-59 loss to overall state No. 6 St. Joseph of Santa Maria in the CIF Central Section D1 playoffs. Obviously, down in D2, that confidence has paid off. The team does rely on three-point shooting, which can be a problem in the NBA arena. One of the most intriguing players of the whole weekend may be head coach Hernan Santiago’s son, Jaxton. A 6-foot-3, 225-pound football tight end who gave up a commitment to Boston College and instead will go to Yale, Jaxton doesn’t score much but averages 7.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 4.6 steals per game. One might assume Jaxton could be assigned to use his physical presence on defense against Tech’s Grayson.

Coming into the game, Tech has a 34 computer ranking compared to Centennial with a 71. But the team that the Golden Hawks just beat has a 27. It goes against the grain of picking against any Oakland team (boys or girls) playing in a non-D1 or Open state final, but Centennial already has some great road experience while the Bulldogs haven’t had to play away from their own home gym in several weeks.

Prediction: Centennial 65, Oakland Tech 62

Division III Boys
Alemany of Mission Hills 24-15 (SoCal) vs. Santa Cruz 27-6 (NorCal), Friday, 4 pm

Both of these schools have won one D3 title in their histories against no losses and the fact they are playing in D3 in the age of competitive equity pairings is not as likely as it would seem. Alemany’s previous title came in 2012 while Santa Cruz had a 36-1 season in 2005 (directed by 2005 State Coach of the Year Pete Newell Jr.), which is tied for fourth on the all-time state list for most wins in a season.

Alemany’s high number of losses (including 1-6 in league) is easily explainable. The Warriors are in the same league as Open Division champion Harvard-Westlake plus heavyweights like Sierra Canyon and Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks). They also dropped lots of games early on before several players gained eligibility, two of them being 6-foot-9 sophomore Sam Mbingazo and 6-foot-8 junior Bourgeois Tshilobo.

Getting into the CIF Southern Section D3A playoffs (a team like this probably is going to be in a higher CIFSS playoff division next season when the entire section switches to 100 percent competitive equity formats) proved to be a great place for Alemany. The Warriors reached the title game and the won in a memorable three-overtime thriller, 83-80, over Bosco Tech of Rosemead. Leading scorer Jared Mims (17.4 ppg) had 25 points and six assists. Alemany then played Bosco Tech again on Tuesday in the regional finals and didn’t need extra time in a 74-63 victory. Senior Mike Lindsay (averages almost in double figures) led the way with 23 points. The team will take a 10-game win streak into Friday.

Santa Cruz has excelled with some size of its own up front as 6-foot-6 senior Ben Dotten averages 16.1 ppg, 6-foot-5 sophomore Demarco Hunter chips in with 15.6 ppg and 6-foot-5 junior Kirby Seals goes for 12.5 ppg. The Cardinals had to get 11 tough points from junior guard Mosiah Cumberpatch, however, to help them get past Bullard of Fresno, 62-56, in the NorCal D3 final. They are a team that has been in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division before (Riordan, Archbishop Mitty, etc.) and has a pair of wins over D4 state finalist Monterey. That’s still not the same as Alemany and while the Cardinals have some length they don’t have 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 length.

Prediction: Alemany 69, Santa Cruz 61

Division IV Boys
Chatsworth 20-14 (SoCal) vs Monterey 24-6 (NorCal), Saturday 12 noon

Last year’s CIF state championships featured one of the top Class of 2026 players and scorers in the nation in Lynwood’s Jason Crowe Jr., who led his team past Sierra of Tollhouse for the D5 title. This year, Chatsworth checks in with another one. That would be sophomore Alijah Arenas, son of former NBA standout Gilbert Arenas, who is averaging 32.6 ppg. He’s the fourth reported leading scorer in the state (Crowe Jr. is first at 37.4 ppg). Alijah had his season high of 53 points when the Chancellors got past George Washington of L.A., 74-69, in the SoCal regional semifinals. He also is the younger brother of Sierra Canyon four-year varsity girls all-state player Izela Arenas.

Monterey players had to to hit the road for four hours but got it done in the NorCal title game at Union Mine. Photo: @GdjrGd3 /

Chatsworth was one of several CIF L.A. City Section Open Division teams placed in the D4 South bracket. One of the others, Cleveland of Reseda, had two previous wins against the Chancellors, but in Tuesday’s regional finals it was the Chancellors (134 computer ranking) that stepped up with a 62-47 triumph. Arenas had 21 points and 16 rebounds but had more than enough help from his friends, especially junior big man Taj Unuakhalu with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

Monterey, like Chatsworth, is making its first-ever CIF state finals appearance. The Dores (95 computer ranking) do have some players who saw their older brothers play for the 2019 team that went to the D3 NorCal regional final but lost 44-41 to University (San Francisco). They will be the second of two teams from the Central Coast region of the state to go for a state title on the weekend (after Santa Cruz in D3 on Friday). Santa Cruz also was the team that knocked out the Dores in the CCS D3 semifinals and also had a another win over the team earlier in the season.

Once in D4, however, head coach Greg Daniels’ squad has been on a tear. It culminated in the regionals with a 74-51 win on Tuesday at Union Mine of El Dorado, which came into the contest at 31-3. Ryan Roth led the way with 23 points. He’s already been named Co-MVP of the Gabilan Division. Suhieb Ibrahim had 14 points and Kavon Collins had 13. Collins also is a junior football receiver with D1 offers.

The strength of schedule issue that favors Alemany over Santa Çruz in D3 also is there for Chatsworth, but not as much. Monterey also has some experience taking on a player with a 30 ppg average when it went up against all-time Central Section career scoring leader Logan Kilbert of Tollhouse Sierra in the first regional game.

Predicted Score: Monterey 68, Chatsworth 66

Division V Boys
Verdugo Hills of Tujunga 25-11 (SoCal) vs. Athenian of Danville 27-8 (NorCal), Friday, 12 noon

The CIF L.A. City Section will take its first of two cracks at winning a CIF state title in the second game on Friday. Verdugo Hills, which has never been to the CIF state finals before, came up with a 56-53 win in the regional finals on Tuesday over North of Bakersfield. The Stars were the Central Section D3 champs but were placed in D5 while the team it beat (Sierra of Tollhouse) was placed higher in D4. Despite that curious placement, Verdugo Hills still picked up the win. Two other wins that stand out for the Dons were against Garfield in the L.A. City D2 championship and the one earlier in the regional playoffs vs Corcoran. Garfield entered that game as the No. 1 seed with a 24-2 record. Corcoran entered its game vs the Dons with a 28-3 season record. Alexander Martinez has been Verdugo Hills’ leading scorer all season at 15.6 ppg. Georges Abdulnour isn’t far behind at 13.8 ppg and he also pulls down 7.7 rebounds per outing.

Athenian is one of the rare teams that actually takes a No. 1 seed in the regionals and plows its way to the state finals. The Owls did that with a 57-46 triumph on Tuesday over San Domenico of San Anselmo in an All-North Coast Section small schools matchup. They broke a 1-1 season series split with International of San Francisco in the semifinals. With Athenian, it’s impossible also not to mention league rival Head-Royce of Oakland. Head-Royce had three wins over the Owls during the season, including the NCS championship. The Jayhawks, however, were unceremoniously jumped up to the D3 NorCal bracket as a No. 16 seed and were out right away with a loss to Santa Cruz (yes, the same Santa Cruz going for a D3 state title). Fans of competitive equity seeding never mention that type of unfairness in their system. Athenian still has a chance to take advantage of its opportunity and will do that behind top players such as senior Surya Devasenapathy (16.4 ppg) and senior Evan Lucas (16.1 ppg). Do not foul Evan at the end of the game, either, as he shoots 85 percent from the line.

Prediction: Verdugo Hills 55, Athenian 49

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of He can
be reached at
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Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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