Salesian, Riordan impress at CaliLive

Archbishop Riordan players (left) and Richmond Salesian players (right) had team photos quickly taken after their big wins on Sunday at Cali Live Boys 2024 in Roseville. Photo: Mark Tennis.

The team from Richmond that repped the north in the 2024 CIF Open Division state final and the team from San Francisco that has picked up a big recent transfer both won in their pool division final games at the huge BoysCaliLive24 scholastic event on Sunday in Roseville. We have a list of every team from the state that went 4-0 and won on Sunday in a pool play final.

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Early reviews from the grassroots boys basketball travel world about this weekend’s Boys California Live 2024 scholastic extravaganza were more than positive. Despite there being 168 teams involved from all across the state and other top teams from Arizona and Nevada, the 12-court alignment inside the Roebbelen Center in Roseville was more than enough to handle it.

“It’s not quite a football stadium, but the Roebbelen Center might be the best multi-court facility we have in Cali, edging Ladera due to number of courts,” said San Diego-based analyst Aaron Burgin. “Pretty nice setting.”

Not all of the top of the top teams from the CIF Southern Section followed up last week’s Section 7 tournament held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., with another trip this week to Roseville (near Sacramento), but after two-time defending state champ Harvard-Westlake, Roosevelt of Eastvale and St. John Bosco of Bellflower, there were teams like Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Damien of La Verne, Windward of Los Angeles and Redondo of Redondo Beach who all could be slotted between No. 4 and No. 10 of the next preseason state rankings. Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth also was not present.

St. Joseph of Santa Maria from the CIF Central Section also was in Roseville, but 2023 State Sophomore of the Year and three-time all-state Tounde Yessofou was not with the Knights. Millennium, Sunnyslope and Sandra Day O’Connor all from the Phoenix area also were in town and they could be the top three teams to start next season in Arizona.

Both Bill Mellis of Salesian and Gary McKnight of Mater Dei have been State Coach of the Year. McKnight also of course is on top of state record for all-time coaching wins. Photo: Mark Tennis.

At the end of the event on Sunday, the major question among the media who attended was about the projected top two teams from Northern California — which one was better between Salesian of Richmond and Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco.

There is no seeding of the 168 teams, but they were placed in pools of four and then the top two teams from each pool played each other on Sunday in a de-facto bracket final. Salesian, which was the 2024 NorCal Open Division champion, was in Pool 3 and faced Mater Dei, which was in Pool 4. Both teams were 3-0 in their pool games played on Friday (one game) and Saturday (two games). Riordan was 3-0 in Pool 1 and played Damien, which was 3-0 in Pool 2.

Mater Dei is a team known for outside shooters Owen Verna and Luke Barnett, but the hottest shooter in Salesian’s 73-64 win was senior to be Alvin Loving Jr. He connected for several three-pointers in the second half and the team’s well-known depth and defensive intensity also was on display. Brannon Martinsen of the Monarchs impressed with his inside moves while Salesian’s Elias Obenyah also had a solid outing.

Riordan, which has added Branson of Ross transfer guard Semetri Carr into its lineup, had a much easier time in its game with Damien, but it has to be noted immediately that 7-foot center Nate Garcia of the Spartans was in crutches and wearing heavy taping on his right ankle from an injury suffered on Saturday. The Crusaders won their game 72-48 and were led by junior Andrew Hilman with 16 points. Carr had 12 points, junior DJ Armstrong had 11 points and senior 6-foot-10 center Steve Emeneke had 12 points.

Last season, Salesian defeated Riordan twice, first at the De La Salle Martin Luther King Classic and then 49-44 in the CIF NorCal Open Division final. Debating about the two teams may be fun, but the Pride clearly will have to start the 2024-25 season ranked higher until proven otherwise on the court. Both teams also didn’t have top players seen before on Sunday — guard Isaiah Davis of the Pride and forward Jasir Rencher of the Crusaders.

More Pool vs Pool Winners Through Pool 12

Mongtomery (San Diego) 55, Lincoln (Stockton) 38
The Aztecs are projected to be the preseason No. 1 team in the CIF San Diego Section and looked the part with a 4-0 weekend that was capped with a solid win over Lincoln in a matchup of Pool 6 and Pool 5 winners. Montgomery’s returning big three of J.J. Sanchez, Alek Sanchez and Xair Mendez were just too tough to tame. The Trojans, who were runner-up last season in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs, were led by seniors Anthony Moore and Donez Lindsay. A freshman to watch at Lincoln is Kenneth Simmons.

Twin brothers J.J. Sanchez and Alek Sanchez helped Montgomery of San Diego reach the CIF SD Section Open Division title game as juniors. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

San Ramon Valley (Danville) 76, Canyon (Anaheim) 54
This matchup featured returning NorCal standout Luke Izaak of the Wolves and SoCal standout Brandon Benjamin of the Comanches. Benjamin, who played at Mater Dei last season and has come back to Canyon after transferring out, helped his team post pool play wins in Pool 7 over Liberty of Arizona and Bakersfield Christian. San Ramon Valley, which lost in last season’s CIF D1 state final to St. John Bosco, also won its three earlier pool play games in Pool 8 and went 4-0 for the weekend. SRV also had wins during the week vs Clovis North of Fresno and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.

Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.) 80, Carlsbad 51
We saw Carlsbad get past Crespi of Encino earlier in the event on Friday on a basket with seven seconds left by Jayden Garner. The Lancers, who were 3-0 in Pool 9, had no such magic in their loss to the Arizona school. NDP had come into the game after racking up three wins in Pool 10.

Heritage Christian (Northridge) 64, Sandra Day O’Connor (AZ) 52
The Warriors (4-0 for the weekend) trailed for most of this game, but pulled away in the last 10 minutes. Both of their highly recruited D1 players — 6-foot-7 senior Dillan Shaw and 6-foot-7 senior Tae Simmons — had huge buckets down the stretch. We unofficially had Simmons at 17 points and Shaw with 11. Heritage Christian won Pool 12. O’Connor, which is likely going to be in the top five for Arizona preseason rankings, went 3-0 in Pool 11.

Other Pool vs Pool Winners We Saw

Oakland 71, Bullard (Fresno) 47
This was for Pool 19 & 20. Marcel Macon-Bennett hit on five three-pointers for the Wildcats, who shut down a Knights’ team that had a lot of college coaches following them with junior guard Ja’Vance Coleman Jr. and junior guard Dalen Felder. Both teams had gone 3-0 in their pool play games.

Oakland Tech 57, Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 55
Going by these two games, the Bulldogs and their rivals from Oakland High are going to be very, very good once again. Tech did have a loss in Pool 21, but the Mustangs were 3-0 in Pool 22. Senior guard Ardarius Grayson, who led the Bulldogs to the 2023 CIF D2 state title, lifted the Bulldogs to a 55-54 lead with a lay up with 1:08 left and then had a putback basket with 25 seconds left for a 57-54 lead. Trestyn Nguru had a decent look at a three-pointer for Rancho Verde at the buzzer that could have won the game but the shot hit the back rim.

Conner Sheets had his Buchanan High teammates howling as he was draining shot after shot on the way to 41 points during win against Alemany of Mission Hills. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Buchanan (Clovis) 80,
Alemany (Mission Hills) 55

When last we saw Alemany it was a victory in the CIF D3 state championship over Santa Cruz. Buchanan’s big win should therefore serve notice that the Bears intend to step up in the CIF Central Section this season. Senior guard Conner Sheets had many on scene going through their sheets in the Coaches/Scouts/Media packet. He was on fire for the Bears and ended up with 41 points on eight three-pointers, seven two-pointers and three free throws. Buchanan came into the game after going 3-0 in Pool 18. Alemany had gone 3-0 in Pool 17.

More Teams That Won Pools And Went 4-0*

Clovis East (Clovis)
Defeated Fairfax of Los Angeles, 49-36. The Timberwolves could be another team to watch in the TRAC this season besides Buchanan.

Fairmont Prep (Anaheim)
We saw the Huskies with senior guard Oliver Jones and 6-foot-9 junior David Abisogun on Friday roll past Natomas of Sacramento in Pool 27. On Sunday, they beat Pool 28 winner, Foothill of Tustin, in a close one, 53-51.

La Mirada
It may have been down in Pool 35-36, but remember these pools were not actually seeded. The Matadors followed up a Section 7 showing in which they went 3-1 in their games with the only loss to Harvard-Westlake with a 63-51 win on Sunday over St. Anthony of Long Beach for a 4-0 week. The emergence of junior point guard King Riley over the summer to go with State Freshman of the Year Gene Roebuck and senior standout Julien Gomez will make La Mirada quite intriguing next season.

Los Alamitos
Check out the rampaging scores of the Griffins in their Pool 29-30 games. Before Sunday’s 95-58 win over Knight of Palmdale, they scored 88, 89 and 91 points in their previous games. Knight also was 3-0 entering Sunday’s game.

Palos Verdes (PV Estates)
In an all-South Bay matchup of teams that went 3-0 in Pool 31 and 32, it was the Sea Kings who got past Leuzinger of Lawndale, 62-52.

The Dragons were only team from the Sacramento area to go 4-0 with a pool play win over the weekend. Their big win was over Clovis West earlier on Sunday, which was followed up by a 71-68 win over San Juan Hills later in the day. San Juan Hills was 3-0 in Pool 39.

San Marcos was another CIF San Diego Section squad that did wel in Roseville. The Knights went 4-0 and won their pool vs pool matchup on Sunday. Photo: Aaron Burgin / @FullTimeHoops1.

San Marcos
Junior guard Jalen Williams was a standout all weekend for the Knights. They won all three games in Pool 34 and then on Sunday they got past Pool 33 winner St. Mary’s of Berkeley, 51-48.

University (San Francisco)
This is the team coached by tourney director Randy Bessolo of the Bay Area Coaches Association. The Dons were 3-0 in Pool 37 and defeated Pool 38 winner Temecula Valley on Sunday, 99-85.

Village Christian (Sun Valley)
The Crusaders defeated Democracy Prep of Nevada, 77-69, in a matchup of Pool 23 & 24 winners. Head coach Julian Andrade is looking for team to improve from a 19-10 record for last season.

Westlake (Westlake Village)
A 56-54 win over San Clemente early on Sunday gave the Warriors top honors among those in Pool 41 and Pool 42. They were from Pool 42. The Tritons were from Pool 41.

*California teams only.

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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