First run-through of teams as the playoffs draw near shows Mater Dei, Archbishop Mitty, Alemany, Salesian of Richmond and St. Joseph Notre Dame in No. 1 positions.
A staple of the Cal-Hi Sports rankings system for more than 30 years is the divisional breakdown of teams leading into the CIF state basketball championships.
Here is the first listing of boys teams this season with analysis and bubble teams for each division (records listed after games of Jan. 28 with some teams that have results included for this week):
CIF Division I
1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 19-2
2. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 18-1
3. Etiwanda 22-1
4. Loyola (Los Angeles) 18-3
5. De La Salle (Concord) 18-2
6. Taft (Woodland Hills) 19-3
7. Sheldon (Sacramento) 16-4
8. Lutheran (Orange) 14-7
9. Buchanan (Clovis) 19-2
10. Jesuit (Carmichael) 18-4
11. Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 20-2
12. Fairfax (Los Angeles) 15-8
13. Westchester (Los Angeles) 15-5
14. Mission Viejo 20-2
15. J.W. North (Riverside) 17-4
Bubble: Bakersfield 16-7, Foothill (Tustin) 19-4, Oxnard 21-2, Piedmont Hills (San Jose) 19-1.
Comments: Defending CIF state champ Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly could meet in the CIF Southern Section Div. IAA final. Loyola also would be in the CIFSS Div. IAA bracket. If both win section titles, De La Salle and Sheldon project to be the top seeds for the Northern California playoffs.
CIF Division II
1. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 16-3
2. Newark Memorial (Newark) 17-4
3. Mayfair (Lakewood) 17-5
4. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 21-2
5. Serra (San Mateo) 17-2
6. Compton 13-8
7. Sacramento 16-5
8. Palo Alto 16-2
9. Hoover (San Diego) 21-3
10. Antelope 21-1
Bubble: Canyon (Anaheim) 19-5, Canyon (Canyon Country) 19-3, Chico 17-3, Lincoln (San Diego) 15-8, McNair (Stockton) 15-4, Mountain View 15-4, Murrieta Valley (Murrieta) 20-2, Ocean View (Huntington Beach) 19-3, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 14-7.
Comments: Despite some recent stumbles, defending CIF state champ Mitty remains a favorite if big-time junior Aaron Gordon stays healthy. The Monarchs won’t skate to the CCS title, though, since Serra and Palo Alto are both Division II this season.
CIF Division III
1. Alemany (Mission Hills) 20-3
2. Damien (La Verne) 20-2
3. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 16-5
4. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 21-1
5. Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 15-5
6. Sacred Heart Cathedral (SF) 16-3
7. Campolindo (Moraga) 17-2
8. Foothill (Sacramento) 20-3
9. Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 18-6
10. Pasadena 17-6
Bubble: El Camino (South San Francisco) 15-4*, Mt. Miguel (Spring Valley) 18-3, Palm Springs 16-6, Mt. Whitney (Visalia) 20-4, St. Augustine (San Diego) 17-5, Sierra (Manteca) 19-2.
Comments: This division became more scrambled when defending CIF state champ La Verne Lutheran was re-classified for Division IV (which actually is much tougher than D3) and standout senior Brandon Ashley left Bishop O’Dowd for Findlay Prep of Nevada. Alemany is the clear No. 1 for now since the Warriors were No. 5 overall in the state heading into this week. O’Dowd is still a major factor in the north and definitely could get back to the state finals for a third year in a row with a re-vamped lineup.
CIF Division IV
1. Salesian (Richmond) 19-2
2. Price (Los Angeles) 17-5
3. Serra (Gardena) 21-2
4. Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 18-3
5. Pacific Hills (Los Angeles) 21-3
6. La Verne Lutheran (La Verne) 16-5
7. Crespi (Encino) 19-4
8. Windward (Los Angeles) 14-8
9. Muir (Pasadena) 22-1
10. Modesto Christian 18-4
Bubble: Army-Navy (Carlsbad) 17-4, Central Valley Christian (Visalia) 17-2, Justin-Siena (Napa) 18-4, Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 17-4, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 17-4.
Comments: Wow, what a division this one is. The top six are all in the overall state top 20 and the next two – Crespi and Windward – have both scored major wins during the season. Windward, which lost to Pacific Hills last week, even has a win over D2 No. 1 Mitty. It might be strange to say it, but other than the first few teams at the top, D4 this year in California might even be better than D1.
CIF Division V
1. St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) 17-4
2. St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 15-7
3. Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 17-1
4. Renaissance Academy (La Canada) 19-3
5. Village Christian (Sun Valley) 21-2
6. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 18-4
7. Providence (Burbank) 20-4
8. Branson (Ross) 16-6
9. Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) 19-4
10. Central Catholic (Modesto) 18-4
Bubble: Foothills Christian (El Cajon) 10-9, Fresno Christian 17-1, Liberty Christian (Redding) 16-1, Ribet Academy (Los Angeles) 12-8, Ripon Christian 17-5.
Comments: Defending CIF state champ St. Joseph and St. Bernard were joined toward the top of the rankings in this division last season by Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. Sierra Canyon is now Division IV and two promising players from last year’s team there – sophomores Bryan Alberts and Marsalis Johnson – are now at No. 5 Village Christian. Alberts (18.8 ppg) and Johnson (15.3 ppg) are two of the top sophomores in the state and will be a force for the Crusaders down the stretch in March.
Note: Paul Muyskens contributed to these rankings.