1. Woodland Hills Taft – Taft has three of the top players in the state, starting with Spencer Dinwidde, a 6-foot-3 point guard who’s headed to the University of Colorado. Center Kevin Johnson and power forward C.J. Blackwell are also NCAA-caliber players. Taft is ranked No. 21 in the ESPN preseason Fab 50 and went 26-6 last season after reaching the Southern California regional semifinals of the CIF State Division I playoffs.
2. Alemany – Led by 5-foot-9 point guard Max Guercy, Alemany is off to a 3-1 start. Guercy is averaging 22 points, 3.7 assists and 4.3 steals per game. Alemany will be playing in the San Fernando Valley Invitational Tournament, which starts this weekend. The first game for Alemany will be against Poly of Sun Valley.
3. Simi Valley – Forward Jonathan Davis leads Simi Valley with 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Simi Valley is 7-3 in its first 10 games and won its own Tip-Off Classic Tournament. Simi Valley beat Valencia, 61-57, in the championship game of the tournament. Davis scored 19 points against Valencia.
4. Harvard-Westlake – Harvard-Westlake is 4-2 to start the season, but the two losses came against tough teams. The first was to Compton and the other was to Taft. Zena Edosomwan leads Harvard-Westlake with 15.5 points per game. Damiene Cain is averaging 11.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.
5. Ventura – Senior guard Dylan Houck has Ventura off to an 8-1 start. He is averaging 18.4 points per game. The only loss for Ventura came against Simi Valley, 57-30. Ventura finished third in the Simi Valley Tip-Off Classic.
6. Crespi – Crespi has lost three games in a row, all in the Ocean View Tournament of Champions, and is 3-3. It doesn’t get much easier for Crespi as the Celts will travel to play in the Marin Catholic Tournament over the winter break. Crespi’s first game in the tournament will be against Natomas from Sacramento. Matt Mounier leads Crespi with 17.5 points per game. Chris Connelly is averaging 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
8. Paraclete – Senior guard Gerard Rivers is averaging 15.6 points per game for Paraclete, which has won eight of its first nine games. The team’s only loss came against Highland, 69-66, in the Canyon Classic tournament at Canyon High School. Paraclete has one of the top freshmen in Southern California. Forward Richard Bivens is listed at 6-foot-6 and is averaging 9.8 rebounds per game.
9. Thousand Oaks – Led by four experienced seniors, Thousand Oaks is off to an undefeated 10-0 start. Guards Austin Cagley and Evann Hall are each averaging 19 points per game. Thousand Oaks won the Nordhoff Tournament. Cagley earned tournament most valuable player honors as Thousand Oaks beat Buena, 61-52, in the championship game.
10. Valencia – Valencia has made it to the championship game of two tournaments and lost them both. The Vikings lost to Simi Valley in the Tip-Off Classic at Simi Valley High. They lost to Canyon High School by one point, 59-58, in the championship game of the Canyon Classic at Canyon High. Boston College-bound senior Lonnie Jackson, a 6-4 senior, leads Valencia.
Mark your calendar:
Dec. 15-17: Oxnard Pacifica Clash on the Coast tournament. Harvard-Westlake is scheduled to play Pacifica on the final day of the tournament.
Dec. 17-22: San Fernando Valley Invitational. The 32-team tournament ends Dec. 21-22 with the final four at Alemany High School. Golden Valley is the reigning champs from 2009.
Dec. 27-30: Oaks Christian Holiday Invitational. Alemany takes on Poly of Sun Valley in one of the first-round games. Valencia is scheduled to play Concord De Le Salle from Northern California in another first-round game.
Dec. 27- 30: Ventura Kiwanis Tournament. Ventura opens against Malibu.
Dec. 27-30: ESPN iScore Holiday Classic. Paraclate takes on Chaparral of Temecula in the first round of the tournament in San Diego.