Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

The Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs are right around the corner, mere weeks away now. Accordingly, most of the premier programs the Southland has to offer appear to be as focused as ever with postseason play clearly in sight.

That said, some major shuffling took place in this week's edition of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. There is a growing understanding that the time has come for teams to hit their strides and finish up the regular season with momentum.

It's not where you start, of course, but where you finish.

1. (1) Mater Dei (19-2): No signs of slowing down. Going wire-to-wire on top of rankings is a possibility.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (17-1): Second-best team stacks up well against anyone in the Southern California.

3. (4) Loyola (18-3): Looked good in victory against quality opponent Orange Lutheran over the weekend.

4. (5) Etiwanda (22-1): Loss to La Verne Luthern only thing separating Eagles from unblemished record.

5. (8) Taft (19-3): Players have bought into system of their new coach and former NBA player Jason Hart.

6. (9) Bishop Montgomery (18-3): It's official: The Knights can no longer be overlooked. They're a threat.

7. (11) Alemany (20-3): Warriors keep proving all the naysayers wrong. No team is hotter than this group.

8. (10) Gardena Serra (21-2): Del Rey League showdown with Bishop Montgomery looms large Wednesday.

9. (3) La Verne Lutheran (16-5): A recent setback to Los Angeles Westchester was somewhat surprising.

10. (13) Pacific Hills (21-3): Alpha League test comes on Friday against North Hollywood Campbell Hall.

11. (14) Price (17-5): Peaking at the right time is important. The Knights might have finally it figured out.

12. (6) Crespi (19-4): Three losses last week goes to show how difficult Mission League play can be at times.

13. (12) St. John Bosco (16-5): Interested to see how the Hamilton brothers do on Friday night at Mater Dei.

14. (18) Westchester (16-5): A victory over La Verne Lutheran certainly does not hurt the improving resume.

15. (15) Orange Lutheran (14-8): Senior Gabe York is back in lineup after a brief absence. Lancers need him.

16. (16) Capistrano Valley (20-2): Aleks Lipovic and Nick Thomas are a particularly potent one-two combo.

17. (7) Windward (14-8): Nick Stover emerging as unquestioned leader. The Wildcats need guidance too.

18. (19) Mayfair (17-5): Extremely difficult nonleague schedule is paying off for this battle-tested bunch.

19. (17) Damien (20-2): Chris Reyes is a one-man show. His effort, however, came up short against Etiwanda.

20. (NR) Calabasas (19-3): Frontrunner in the Marmonte League race. Pair of road games on deck this week.

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.