Los Angeles Preps: St. John Bosco

Pasadena's Hamilton commits to N. Arizona

May, 1, 2012
Pasadena senior Blake Hamilton committed to Northern Arizona over the weekend. He also had a scholarship offers from Hawaii, Cal State Northridge and Sacramento State.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds last season, helping Pasadena to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AAA title. He is the cousin of brothers Isaac and Daniel Hamilton of St. John Bosco and Jordan Hamilton of the Denver Nuggets.

St. John Bosco's Falah adds Cal offer

April, 10, 2012
St. John Bosco rising senior offensive lineman Nico Falah continues to be one of the area's most sought after football recruits. He received a scholarship offer from Cal on Tuesday afternoon, adding to a collection that now includes all of the Pac-12 schools except Stanford.

Falah is a national-level prospect, having been offered by the likes of Boise State, Florida and Notre Dame.

He said he doesn't anticipate making a decision until late in the process, after he takes all five of his visits. The 6-foot-4 Falah plans to attend a spring camp in Berkeley on April 21 and visit the Bay Area campuses that same weekend.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

March, 26, 2012
Another prep basketball season is in the books after the CIF State Championships took place last weekend in Sacramento. The Southland was well represented at the gathering, with four teams in attendance up North. Three programs prevailed and brought home some hardware for their respective trophy cases.

Let's take a look at how the Southland's premier programs stacked up against each other this season. Some of the teams will look familiar. Others not so much. Here are the final ESPNLosAngeles.com rankings.

1. (1) Mater Dei (34-2): The Monarchs went wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team. Are we surprised? No, not really.

2. (4) Alemany (33-4): There's no substitute for experience, and with seniors Max Guercey and Marqueze Coleman in the mix the Warriors know this all too well.

3. (2) Long Beach Poly (28-3): Pieces of the puzzle appeared in place. The Jackrabbits, however, were their own worst enemy when it mattered most, the playoffs.

4. (6) Loyola (26-6): Bad news: Seniors Julian Harrell, Justin Childress and Jacob Hazzard are gone. Good news: Sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright returns.

5. (5) Serra (31-3): With Daddy Ugbede out on the court, the Cavaliers were capable of beating anyone. The senior was a threat underneath and out on the perimeter.

6. (3) Taft (29-4): Anthony January was a high-profile transfer at the start of season for the Toreadors. The senior wing, of course, lived up to most of the hype.

7. (7) Etiwanda (30-3): With sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin in the fold, the Eagles figure to be just fine for years to come. More than fine, in fact.

8. (16) Price (26-9): Seemingly no one around played a tougher schedule. Once postseason play rolled around, the Knights were a battled-tested group. And then some.

9. (11) La Verne Lutheran (25-8): The Trojans relied on Grant Jerrett. The Arizona commit and McDonald's All-American could take care of business by himself.

10. (17) St. John Bosco (25-8): The Hamilton brothers, junior Isaac and sophomore Daniel, often times played as if they were seasoned veterans for the Braves.

11. (10) Mayfair (27-6): Senior wing Dion Wright did a little bit of everything for the Monsoons once the playoffs started. He did most of it extremely well too.

12. (9) Pacific Hills (30-5): Brandon Taylor might have been considered an underrated point guard early on this season. The senior changed the perception in the playoffs.

13. (8) Orange Lutheran (22-11): A mid-season injury to Gabe York was difficult to deal with. Once the senior guard was healthy, there was not stopping the Lancers.

14. (12) Pasadena (27-7): The Bulldogs knew they had a reliable presence in senior Blake Hamilton. During their playoff run, everyone else learned the same exact thing.

15. (14) Mission Viejo (25-6): When football and basketball players finally come together, it can be a dangerous combo. Go ahead and ask opponents of the Diablos this year.

16. (18) Crespi (24-8): It was tough to figure out the Celts. They managed to defeat Alemany twice, Price one time and Loyola once. This group might have peeked too early.

17. (13) Calabasas (28-4): The season was dedicated to assistant coach Joe Frazier, in a coma after a motorcycle accident. The Coyotes did their mentor proud from start to finish

18. (15) Inglewood (23-12): Starting five consisted of juniors Charles Lockwood, Kristopher Randall, Randy Onwuasor, Edward Scott Jr. and Nicholas Smiley. Watch out.

19. (NR) Bishop Montgomery (23-5): Playing in highly competitive Division IV took its toll on the Knights. They were a battered and bruised bunch come postseason play.

20. (NR) Village Christian (32-3): The Crusaders were on a crusade, apparently. They came out of nowhere and opened some eyes en route to winning a Division V state title.

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

South: Boys' basketball top 10

March, 26, 2012
The final boys’ basketball top 10 rankings for schools in south Los Angeles County:

1. Long Beach Poly (29-3)
On the bad side, Poly came up short in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1AA finals against Mater Dei and again in the Southern California Regionals against Fresno Bullard. On the bright side, standout juniors Roschon Prince and Jordan Bell return next season with redemption in mind.

2. Loyola (26-6)
Four of Loyola's six losses came against eventual state champions -- two to Mater Dei and two to Mission League titlist Alemany. The Cubs blew a 10-point lead against Mater Dei in the Division 1AA semis, which will serve as motivation for up-and-coming point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright this offseason.

3. Gardena Serra (31-3)
The Cavaliers were the last ones standing in Division 4AA but couldn't find the same magic in the regional final against Price. Despite missing out on a trip to Sacramento, Serra can hang its hat on the impressive section title.

4. Price (26-9)
San Diego State-bound forward Skylar Spencer and Co. made a run at state but fell short in the capital. The Knights return a good group, led by versatile guard Chance Murray.

5. La Verne Lutheran (25-8)
Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett, the state's only McDonald's All-American, was denied his third straight state championship ring but it won't dampen a stellar prep career. The torch has been handed to sharpshooting junior guard Eric Cooper Jr.

6. Pacific Hills (30-5)
The Bruins were a force in the difficult Alpha League and it carried them to the Division 4A championship. With only two seniors graduating, coach Ivan Barahona has Pacific Hills eying the repeat next season.

7. Pasadena (28-7)
The Bulldogs benefited from rival Muir's forfeiture of the Pacific League crown, but forward Brandon Jolley and guard Ajon Jefferson legitimized it by winning the Division 3AAA championship. Both return next year.

8. St. John Bosco (25-8)
Yes, the Braves beat Pasadena in the regional tournament. But they're a spot below because Pasadena captured a section title. With dynamic brothers Isaac and Daniel Hamilton leading the charge, Bosco will be one of the teams to watch next year.

9. Mayfair (27-6)
The Wright brothers, Brian and Dion, guided the Monsoons to the Division 2 title against Santa Maria Righetti.

10. Damien (26-3)
Coach Matt Dunn won't make the excuse, but making a 200-mile trip up the coast didn't help the top-seeded Spartans' chances of advancing in the Division 3AAA playoffs.

Ten more, in alphabetic order: Bishop Montgomery (23-5), Crenshaw (24-6), Compton (19-10), Dorsey (27-9), Downey (22-6), Fairfax (20-10), Leuzinger (23-6), Muir (5-21)#, Westchester (22-8), Windward (20-9)

# - Muir was 24-2 on the court; vacated 19 wins for use of an ineligible player.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Following him on Twitter.

Alemany takes Division III thriller

March, 17, 2012

ONTARIO -- Sometimes the spotlight shines brightest on players like K.J. Moffett. The junior guard won't soon forget his moment.

Moffett's sprawling reverse layup with under two seconds remaining carried the Alemany boys' basketball team to the CIF Southern California Division III regional championship Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Arena. It was his only field goal in the Warriors' thrilling 62-61 victory over St. John Bosco but it secured a trip to Sacramento, where they'll meet NorCal champion San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The ball reached Moffett's hands on a pass from teammate Marqueze Coleman, a top-scoring wing headed to Nevada. The lesser-known player made it count, driving baseline and converting on a difficult attempt.

"It didn't seem real," Moffett said. "It was a great feeling."

Alemany led by as many as 18 in the first half but needed a comeback late. Bosco went on a furious rally, jumping ahead by six with under two minutes left. The Braves led by one following Kameron Murrell's lay in with 11 seconds remaining.

"Wow is the only thing I can say about that game," Alemany coach Tray Meeks said.

Alemany (32-4), the Southern Section Division 3A champion, was led by Coleman's 24 points and point guard Max Guercy's 20.

Isaac Hamilton had 32 points and 11 rebounds for Bosco, which reached the regional final with a thrilling victory against Southern Section Division 3AAA champion Pasadena earlier in the week.

(Read full post)

Hamiltons lift S.J. Bosco over Pasadena

March, 14, 2012

MONROVIA -- It was one of those family affairs.

Someone, however, had to end up the winner. Consoling the loser was a necessary evil, in fact.

Nevertheless, Tuesday evening's Southern California Regional playoff game was a gathering the Los Angeles-based Hamilton family won't soon forget.

With the score tied and the finals seconds ticking off the fourth quarter clock, Daniel Hamilton from Bellflower St. John Bosco hit what proved to be the winning shot for the Braves in a 53-51 victory over Pasadena in a Division III semifinal showdown at Monrovia High School.

The bank-shot in the lane with 1.7 seconds left was made over the outstretched arms of his cousin, the Bulldogs' senior Blake Hamilton.

In the meantime, Braves teammate and older brother, junior Isaac Hamilton, was on the court and watched things unfold as his sophomore sibling sealed the deal.

Blake Hamilton was left to think about what could have been.

“I have to give my little cousin credit, he hit a big shot,'' Blake Hamilton said. “You never like to lose, no matter what the situation is. If you have to lose, I'd rather it be to someone in my family. I'm happy for my cousins, I guess. I came out on the short of the stick.''

Blake Hamilton did his best to keep second-seeded Pasadena (29-7) close. The senior wing scored six points early on to give the Bulldogs a 16-14 lead at the end of one. He added eight points in the second quarter to maintain a two-point advantage at the break.

The intensity level picked up in the second half and UCLA coach Ben Howland was in attendance, presumably to catch the highly-touted Hamilton brothers in action. The tandem has some strong family bloodlines, after all. Older brother, Jordan Hamilton, plays for the Denver Nuggets.

(Read full post)

St. John Bosco eliminates Calabasas

March, 10, 2012

CALABASAS -- The St. John Bosco boys' basketball team is used to playing, and winning, close games. The quarterfinal game of the CIF State Division III Southern California Regional against Calabasas was no different.

St. John Bosco beat Calabasas, 75-71, in overtime in a matchup of top-20 teams in the ESPN Los Angeles rankings. Calabasas is the No. 13 team and St. John Bosco is No. 17. St. John Bosco moves on to the semifinals of the Division III Southern California Regional.

The Braves outscored the Coyotes, 10-6, in the overtime period. Isaac Hamilton scored four points in the extra period and helped give his team a four-point advantage in the opening minutes of overtime.

St. John Bosco coach Derrick Taylor said taking the lead early in overtime gave his team an edge.

“It’s somewhat of a psychological advantage,” Taylor said. “They (Calabasas) were really playing uphill. That was important.”

Hamilton finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds and had five assists. He came alive in the second quarter, scoring 10 points. He followed up with another 10-point quarter in the third and was 9-for-11 from the free-throw line in the game.

“I had to turn him loose and I had to get him some more shots,” Taylor said. “I had to open the offense up for him.”

The game ended tied in regulation, 65-65. Calabasas sophomore Jeremy Lieberman scored a basket in the closing seconds to tie the score. St. John Bosco’s Mark Uy put his team ahead by two points, 65-63, with a free throw before Lieberman’s basket.

The score was tied five times in the fourth quarter. Calabasas had a three-point lead at one point. St. John Bosco (24-7) rallied to take a three-point lead, 63-60, with less than two minutes to play. It was a tight, see-saw game from the opening tipoff.

“We’re not bothered by close games,.” Taylor said. “We knew that we could come through. We’re used to close games, so we didn’t panic.”

Lieberman finished with 23 points and five assists for Calabasas (28-4). Teammate Spencer Levy also scored 23 points and made four 3-pointers.

Daniel Hamilton scored 16 points for St. John Bosco. Darryl Matthews scored 11 points and had 15 rebounds.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

March, 5, 2012
With the Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs in the books, the premier programs from the greater Los Angeles area turn their collective attention toward the Southern California Regional Playoffs this week. First-round play starts Wednesday night as teams begin their bids for a berth in the CIF State Championship game.

That said, let's take a quick look at how some of the best of the best from right here in the Southland stack up against each other. Without further adieu, here's the latest edition of the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.

1. (1) Mater Dei (29-2): Have gone wire-to-wire atop of our rankings and show no signs of slowing down.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (26-2): Revenge-minded Jackrabbits would like another shot against Mater Dei.

3. (5) Taft (28-3): Not much competition in Los Angeles' City Section. Division I state will be different though.

4. (6) Alemany (28-4): All signs pont to the Warriors making an appearance in Division III state title game.

5. (7) Gardena Serra (29-2): The top seed in Division IV and distinction is worthy given body of work.

6. (4) Loyola (24-5): Wouldn't be least bit surprised to see the Cubs make some noise in Division I play.

7. (3) Etiwanda (29-2): Eagles are overlooked in Division I with Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly around.

8. (9) Orange Lutheran (21-10): Gabe York receives the headlines while Payton Banks waits in the wings.

9. (10) Pacific Hills (28-4): Brandon Taylor is one of the most underrated seniors in Southern California.

(Read full post)

LA South: Local teams ready for postseason run

March, 4, 2012
Some of the Southland's premier prep hoops programs reside in the Northern region of Los Angeles. And for those skeptics out there looking for proof, one need not look any further than the brackets released for the Southern California Regional Playoffs on Sunday afternoon.

First round play begins Wednesday night and Long Beach Poly is one of the marquee teams competing in Division I. The Jackrabbits were awarded the all-important No.2 seed and open up at home game against Capistrano Valley.

Among the other potentially entertaining games in an absolutely loaded Division I field: Los Angeles Crenshaw at No. 4 Loyola Los Angeles, Los Angeles Westchester at Fresno Bullard and Los Angeles Dorsey at Orange Lutheran.

In Division II, No.2 Mayfair earned a first-round bye. Los Angeles Garfield faces a particulary tough task at No. 5 Inglewood. Division III has a strong contingent, including No. 6 Bellflower St. John Bosco, No.7 Bell and South Torrance.

Gardena Serra is the top seed in Division IV and has a bye in the first round. Local opponents looming large are No. 2 La Verne Lutheran, No. 3 Los Angeles Price and No. 5 Los Angeles Pacific Hills. Other teams posing as ptoential threats are underdogs No. 8 Animo South Los Angeles and Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart.

In Division V, Playa del Rey St. Bernard is the top seed. No. 2 Los Angeles Ribet Academy and Los Angeles View Park could play the spoiler role.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 27, 2012
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.

South: Boys' basketball Top 10

February, 27, 2012
The south Los Angeles County boys’ basketball top 10 power rankings as teams move into championship week:

1. Long Beach Poly (26-1)
Junior wing Roschon Prince set a school playoff record with 40 points Friday. Now he gets to face Etiwanda's hard-nosed man-to-man defense with a ticket to the championship game at stake. Next: CIF-SS Division 1AA semifinals vs. Etiwanda at Anaheim Convention Center, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

2. Gardena Serra (28-2)
The top-seeded Cavaliers survived against L.A. Price, redeeming a controversial loss from earlier in the season. Serra has the size to match McDonald's All-American Grant Jerrett of La Verne Lutheran, but can they contain him? Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA final vs. La Verne Lutheran at Anaheim Convention Center, Thursday, 4:45 p.m.

3. Loyola (24-4)
The opportunity to avenge last year's state tournament loss to eventual champion Mater Dei is finally here for the Cubs. We know about the Monarchs' talent, but Loyola figures to match up well at all spots. Next: CIF-SS Division 1AA semifinals vs. Mater Dei at Anaheim Convention Center, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m.

4. La Verne Lutheran (23-6)
Junior guard Eric Cooper Jr. has been playing with a broken finger in his right shooting hand, providing the second-seeded Trojans with much-needed minutes. They may be shorthanded but, like coach Eric Cooper said Friday after a win against Crespi, "When you've got Grant Jerrett, you've always got a chance." Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA final vs. Gardena Serra at Anaheim Convention Center, Thursday, 4:45 p.m.

5. Pacific Hills (27-4)
The top-seeded Bruins have the unenviable task of containing dynamic scorer Jose Estrada in the championship game. Next: CIF-SS Division 4A final vs. Cantwell-Sacred Heart at Anaheim Convention Center, Thursday, 3 p.m.

6. Price (22-8)
The Knights had a lead against top-seeded Gardena Serra heading into the fourth quarter but could not stop Dakarai Tucker. No title game in Division 4AA, but San Diego State-bound Skylar Spencer and the Knights could make a run in the state tournament.

7. St. John Bosco (22-7)
The second-seeded Braves were plagued by their perimeter defense, losing to visiting Oak Park, 67-66, in the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals.

8. Pasadena (24-6)
Coach Tim Tucker has an athletic squad, led by forward Brandon Jolley, who is a handful down low. Next: CIF-SS Division 3AAA final vs. Arroyo Grande at Anaheim Convention Center, Friday or Saturday, time TBA.

9. Bishop Montgomery (23-5)#
Given the difficulty of Division 4AA, it was unlikely that the top four seeds would reach the semifinals. Bishop Montgomery was the first casualty, losing on the road to Crespi.

10. Dorsey (27-7)
The seventh-seeded Dons erased an early 20-3 deficit to shock third-seeded Westchester in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section semifinals Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Can Cinderella win it all? Next: City Section Division I final vs. Woodland Hills Taft at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Ten more, in alphabetical order: Crenshaw (24-5), Compton (19-10), Damien (26-3)#, Downey (22-6)#, Fairfax (20-10)#, Leuzinger (23-6)#, Mayfair (24-5), Muir (5-21)*, Westchester (22-7), Windward (20-9)#

# -- Denotes season has concluded
* -- Muir was 24-2 on the court; vacated 19 wins for use of an ineligible player

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Following him on Twitter.

St. John Bosco's Falah getting attention

February, 22, 2012
Eventually, St. John Bosco offensive lineman Nico Falah says he wants to become a nutritionist. For now he'll settle for a healthy dose of scholarship offers.

The 6-foot-5 rising senior currently has five offers -- Arizona, Oregon State, San Jose State, UCLA and Utah State -- and more figure to head his way. Falah already attended USC's "Junior Day" camp and plans to attend UCLA's version this week.

"I'm not favoring anyone right now," said Falah, who helped Bosco to more than 400 yards of offense per game last season. "I'm pretty much open to anything. ... I want a place with good academics and I want a chance to play."

South: Boys' basketball Top 10

February, 20, 2012
The south Los Angeles County boys’ basketball top 10 power rankings as teams move into the second week of playoffs:

1. Long Beach Poly (24-1)
The second-seeded Jackrabbits advanced into the next round by doubling up visiting Riverside King, and now face a 90-mile bus trip. Next: CIF-SS Division 1AA second round at Palmdale Knight, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

2. Gardena Serra (26-2)
The top-seeded Cavaliers will have to neutralize Harvard-Westlake forward Zena Edosomwan. Interior players Daddy Ugbede and Emmanual Ndumanya will have their hands full. Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals at Harvard-Westlake, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

3. Loyola (22-4)
The fourth-seeded Cubs had an easy time with Trabuco Hills on Friday. Beating Long Beach Jordan, the third-best team in the Moore League, doesn't figure to be as simple. Next: CIF-SS Division 1AA second round at Long Beach Jordan, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

4. La Verne Lutheran (21-6)
A broken finger to guard Eric Cooper Jr. stripped the second-seeded Trojans of Grant Jerrett's primary sidekick. The role players will have to step up in his absence. Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals at Oaks Christian, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

5. Price (21-7)
The fourth-seeded Knights have already defeated fellow small school power Windward twice this season. They hope the third time isn't the charm for the visitors. Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals vs. Windward, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

6. St. John Bosco (21-6)
The second-seeded Braves opened the playoffs with blowout victories of 41 and 38 points. They've shown no signs of slowing down, either. Next: CIF-SS Division 3A quarterfinals at Covina, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

7. Bishop Montgomery (23-4)
Larry Taylor III sank clutch free throws and the third-seeded Knights avoided a second-round upset against Morningside on Friday. Lamond Murray Jr. scored 25 points. Next: CIF-SS Division 4AA quarterfinals at Crespi, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

8. Damien (26-2)
The top-seeded Spartans were on the bad end of a preliminary coin flip, and now must travel 200 miles north for their next game. Could an upset be brewing? Next: CIF-SS Division 3AAA quarterfinals at Arroyo Grande, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

9. Pacific Hills (25-4)
The top-seeded Bruins, co-champions of the Alpha League, opened the playoffs with wins of 53 and 32 points. Next: CIF-SS Division 4A quarterfinals vs. St. Bonaventure, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

10. Pasadena (21-7)
There was no better way for the Bulldogs to head into the playoffs than with a victory against Pacific League rival Muir. Coach Tim Tucker has his team eying the top prize. Next: CIF-SS Division 3AAA quarterfinals vs. Bonita, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Ten more, in alphabetic order: Crenshaw (23-4), Compton (18-9), Downey (22-6)#, Fairfax (20-9), Leuzinger (22-5), Mayfair (22-5), Muir (24-2)#, Santa Monica (19-8), Westchester (21-6), Windward (20-8)

# - Denotes season has concluded

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Following him on Twitter.

Prep basketball: Top 20 rankings

February, 20, 2012
Postseason play is well underway and the action has been fast and furious. That said, it's about time for the premier programs from the Southland to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the Southern Section and Los Angeles City Section playoffs.

Over the next couple of days, the semifinal showdowns will begin to materialize as teams move toward division championships. So let's take a look at the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings.

1. (1) Mater Dei (25-2): Katin Reinhardt or Xavier Johnson, pick your poison. Limiting the effectiveness of one of the two is possible. Stopping them both isn't.

2. (2) Long Beach Poly (23-1): Highly-touted junior Roschon Prince does a little bit of everything, and does it well, for the Jackrabbits.

3. (3) Etiwanda (27-1): Here's where things get interesting in Division 1-AA for the Eagles. Santa Monica and Long Beach Poly loom large en route to finals.

4. (4) Loyola (22-4): With a collision course seemingly set with Mater Dei in the all-important Division 1-AA semifinals, the Cubs can't afford to look too far ahead.

5. (5) Taft (25-3): On deck, Lake Balboa Birmingham in the Los Angeles City Section playoffs Wednesday. The Toreadors will not have any troubles in this one.

6. (6) Alemany (25-4): La Puente Bishop Amat stands between the Warriors and a berth in the Division 3-A semifinals. Chances are, they will not be denied.

7. (7) Gardena Serra (26-2): Cavaliers will have their hands full with North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Zena Edosomwan in a Division 4-AA game Tuesday.

8. (8) La Verne Lutheran (21-6): Road trip to Westlake Village Oaks Christian on Tuesday night figures to be a speed bump along the way in Division 4-AA play.

9. (9) Bishop Montgomery (23-4): It is not easy to win at Encino Crespi. It will be interesting to see if the Knights are up to the challenge in Division 4-AA on Tuesday.

10. (10) Pacific Hills (25-4): Freshman phenom Aaron Holiday and North Hollywood Campbell Hall could play the role of spoiler. The Bruins are well aware of that fact.

(Read full post)

Burroughs Ridgecrest advances

February, 16, 2012
Burroughs Ridgecrest upset No. 16 Cathedral in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3A playoffs.

After a 55-53 win over Cathedral, Burroughs Ridgecrest gets to play second-seeded St. John Bosco.

Azusa beat No. 15 Tahquitz, 62-60, in the only other upset in the first round of the Division 3A playoffs.

Third-seeded Oak Park routed Littlerock, 63-24.

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