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Monday, February 6, 2012
Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

By Sean Ceglinsky

The all-important final week of regular-season play is upon us, which means some of the Southland's premier programs must remain focused on the task at hand. Looking too far ahead, to upcoming play in the postseason that is, could prove to be disastrous.

That said, let's take a look at how the best of the best from out here in the greater Los Angeles area stack up against each other. There was a shakeup in the bottom half of the top 10 and multiple teams ranked in the teens are on the verge of joining elite status.

1. (1) Mater Dei (22-2): La Verne Lutheran was supposed to present some problems. It did not happen. The Monarchs ended up winning by five points.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (20-1): Jackrabbits' lone loss came back in the first week of December. There have been no signs of slowing since then, of course.

3. (7) Alemany (22-3): The Warriors keep getting the job done. With two games left in the regular season, they're poised to take home the Mission League title.

4. (4) Etiwanda (24-1): As Jordan McLaughlin tends to go, so do the Eagles. The standout sophomore guard is averaging more than 17 points per game.

5. (5) Taft (22-3): Questions about the Los Angeles City Section frontrunner recently started to surface. A victory over Los Angeles Loyola provided answers.

6. (3) Loyola (20-4): Victory against longtime rival on Friday night took plenty out of the Cubs. They had nothing left in the tank in loss on Saturday morning.

7. (8) Gardena Serra (23-2): The Cavaliers possess one of the better resumes around. And this battled-tested bunch can play with anyone in Southern California.

8. (6) Bishop Montgomery (20-4): Close out regular season play on Friday at La Puente Bishop Amat. Focus turns toward Southern Section playoffs thereafter.

9. (10) Pacific Hills (22-3): Alpha League showdown at home Thursday against Los Angeles Windward looms large. Game figures to be final hurdle for the Bruins.

10. (9) La Verne Lutheran (18-6): Have a funny feeling Grant Jerrett is about to take over. The 6-foot-10 senior and Arizona commit is more than capable too.

11. (14) Westchester (19-5): It's not how you start, but how you finish. The Comets are well aware of that and one of the Southland's hottest teams as a result.

12. (11) Price (18-6): We'll find out how good junior guard Chance Murray and the Knights are this week in games against Compton and La Verne Lutheran.

13. (13) St. John Bosco (17-6): There are no easy games in the Trinity League. Braves played Santa Ana Mater Dei last week. On deck Thursday: Orange Lutheran.

14. (15) Orange Lutheran (14-10): Four straight setbacks don't appear to be as bad given the high caliber of teams the Lancers played. A bounce-back effort is expected.

15. (16) Capistrano Valley (21-3): With a highly-anticipated game against Mission Viejo on Thursday, the Cougars can't afford to overlook Dana Hills on Tuesday.

16. (18) Mayfair (19-5): Perhaps senior Dion Wright should get more credit, considering he averages 19.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.

17. (17) Windward (16-8): Nick Stover has emerged as the unquestioned leader for the Wildcats. The senior forward averages 21.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

18. (19) Damien (22-2): Odds are, the Spartans and Mission Hills Alemany will meet in postseason play. In the meantime, two more regular-season games remain.

19. (12) Crespi (19-6): Tough to explain losses in five of the last six games for the Celts. The time has come for junior guard London Perrantes to turn things around.

20. (20) Calabasas (21-3): An elusive Marmonte League championship is foregone conclusion at this point. The Coyotes can't afford to become complacent, though.

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