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Monday, February 27, 2012
Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

By Sean Ceglinsky

The goal for many of the Southland's premier programs at the start of the season was simple: Win a Los Angeles City Section or Southern Section championship. And with title games taking place later in the week, the time has come for teams to follow through with the plans they made months ago.

Unfortunately for some, lofty aspirations of taking home some hardware never materialized this year. Torrance Bishop Montgomery, Los Angeles Westchester along with La Verne Damien and Los Angeles Windward fall into that category as each program had their respective season end last week.

That said, let's take a look at the teams whose postseason hopes remain alive and well.

1. (1) Mater Dei (27-2): The Monarchs made it to the final four in Division 1-AA. No surprise there. Now let's see if they can seal the deal with a trophy.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (25-1): Etiwanda in the Division 1-AA semifinals is the only thing standing between the Jackrabbits and a berth in the marquee game.

3. (3) Etiwanda (29-1): Jordan McLaughlin is a sophomore. He certainly doesn't play like an underclassman though and averages more than 17 points per game.

4. (4) Loyola (24-4): Give the Cubs some credit. They did not overlook anyone in the Division 1-AA bracket and a showdown against Santa Ana Mater Dei awaits.

5. (5) Taft (27-3): Los Angeles Dorsey does not figure to give the Toreadors much trouble in the City Section title game this weekend. A championship is a formality.

6. (6) Alemany (27-4): The Warriors figured to go as far as senior point guard Max Guercy would take them. Low and behold, they are in the Division 3-A finals.

7. (7) Gardena Serra (28-2): There were no easy games in Division 4-AA and the Cavaliers can vouch for that fact. Next up: La Verne Lutheran in the title game.

8. (8) La Verne Lutheran (23-6): Expect a big Division 4-AA finals game from Grant Jerrett. The senior and Arizona commit is overdue for a memorable performance.

10. (14) Orange Lutheran (17-10): Arizona-bound senior Gabe York is healthy once again. That does not bode well for Capistrano Valley in the Division 1-A semifinals.

10. (10) Pacific Hills (27-4): The Bruins had better be prepared for Jose Estrada in Division 4-A. The junior from Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart can flat-out score.

11. (15) Mayfair (22-5): Seemingly a sure thing to win it all in Division 2-A. The highest seeded team left in the bracket for the Monsoons is No. 5 Wildomar Elsinore.

12. (17) Capistrano Valley (25-4): Lack of respect has been a driving for the Cougars in Division 1-A. An upset victory over Orange Lutheran would quiet the skeptics.

13. (20) Calabasas (26-3): The Coyotes have flown underneath the radar for a while now in Division 3-AA. Suppose it's about time they receive an acknowledgment.

14. (11) Price (22-8): No shame in losing to Gardena Serra in the Division 4-AA semifinals. Plus, the Knights played one of the more competitive schedules around.

15. (12) St. John Bosco (22-7): An upset at the hands of Oak Park in the Division 3-A semifinals ended the season a bit sooner than expected for the talented Braves.

16. (19) Crespi (23-7): The Celts were one only basket away from defeating La Verne Lutheran and making an appearance in Division 4-AA championship game.

17. (NR) Mission Viejo (26-3): The Diablos have been on the verge of entering the poll for weeks. They have finally arrived and are a force to be reckon with in Division 1-A.

18. (NR) Pasadena (24-6): Damien received most of the headlines in Division 3-AAA this season. The Bulldogs, however, are the ones standing in the end during postseason play.

19. (NR) Royal (23-6): In terms of peaking at the right time, the Highlanders figured things out just in the nick of time in Division 2-AA. They're one win away from the finals.

20. (NR) Thousand Oaks (21-8): Must be considered the surprise of the playoffs so far. Lancers have knocked off No. 1 and No. 8 seeds to reach the Division 2-AA semifinals.

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