Mater Dei takes over No. 1 ranking from Windward with La Jolla Country Day going up to No. 2. One team on the bubble coming on strong is Salesian of Richmond.
With Windward of Los Angeles losing 82-77 to Serra of Gardena in the CIF Southern Section Division 4AA championship game, there are changes in the pecking order of the top five in this week’s top 20, but the teams remain the same.
The Cal-Hi Sports caravan saw the CIF North Coast Section championships and was impressed with a group of talented young girls from Salesian of Richmond.
Saturday afternoon at St. Mary’s College, Salesian showed it is going to be a force reckoned with not only in the future, but in the present, after a 49-42 title-game victory over three-time defending NCS D4 champion and two-time defending NorCal champion St. Mary’s of Berkeley.
Sophomore Mariya Moore took over down the stretch for the Pride. Of her 15 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and five assists, 10 rebounds, four points, three steals and three assists came in the fourth quarter.
Freshman 5-foot-10 forward MaAne’ Mosley sparkled as well with a game-high 19 points. Another freshman, 5-foot-4 speedy point guard Kian McNair had five rebounds and three assists, and hit a key 3-pointer that tied the game at 37-37. When Mosley followed with a basket the Pride had the lead for good.
This is a team loaded with promising underclass players still developing, including 6-foot sophomore post Deja Stallworth, younger sister of Denesha Stallworth, who's now at Kentucky. Look for Salesian to be making noise for a while.
(Through games played on Saturday, March 3)
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
1. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 29-3
With victories over Santiago of Corona in the semis and Brea Olinda of Brea in the CIF Southern Section 1AA title game, the Monarchs find themselves in the same spot as they ended last season and began this one. Despite a head-to-head loss in their house to Windward, they still must stay ahead of La Jolla Country Day since the Torreys have a loss to a Long Beach Poly team that was ousted in the 1AA semis by Brea Olinda. In the 54-47 title-game victory over the Ladycats, UCLA-bound Nirra Fields led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds. Next up for the Southern Regional Division I top seed is a visit from Burbank in the first-round.
2. (3) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 28-1
Regardless of the fact the CIF San Diego Section Division IV playoffs were a cakewalk compared to the Southern Section’s D4 level of competition, that has nothing to do with what the Terri Bamford-coached Torreys have done this season. They even have a common opponent with Mater Dei. Country Day had a 14-point win over Academy of the Holy Cross (Maryland) and Mater Dei’s win was by 13 points, although the Monarchs played that game without Jordan Adams. Still, the Torreys have a legitimate claim to the top spot if both teams win out from here and they dispose of Windward or Serra, and playing one of them in the finals is almost a cinch. The only team that could give them a whirl is St. Bernard (Playa del Ray), but they already own a 29-point win against that team.
3. (1) Windward (Los Angeles) 27-4
This is where the Wildcats land and actually it’s kind of generous after the 82-77 triple overtime loss to Serra of Gardena in the CIFSS Div. IV title game. Windward was one of two teams in a CIFSS title game to call a time out without having one. With Windward trailing 79-77, Imani Stafford spun in the lane for a layup but was called for a double-dribble, nullifying the basket with two seconds left. The Wildcats then tried to call a timeout but didn't have any left, resulting in a technical foul. There were 17 ties and 16 lead changes, and Windward had the largest lead 40-29 in the third quarter. Jordin Canada led the way with 21 points while Kristen Simon added 17 points. Now, instead of the top seed and a bye, coach Steve Smith’s girls are seeded No. 3 in the regionals and are looking at a potential rematch with Serra in the semis. They open at home with Tollhouse Sierra.
4. (4) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 28-3
Once again the Jackrabbits came up short in their hopes of meeting Mater Dei in the playoffs, after a 49-43 loss to Brea Olinda in the CIFSS Div. 1AA semifinals. Coach Carl Buggs’ girls can stay at No. 4 for now since they will either lose and drop below St. Mary’s of Stockton or win and move on to the Div. I state championship to justify the spot. Destiny King gave it her all in the loss. The 5-foot-10 senior that plays any position on the floor finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Having a 1-1 record against La Jolla Country Day, compared to St. Mary’s at 0-1, also is a reason for Poly still being in this position.
5. (5) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 28-3
Coach Tom Gonsalves and the Rams made it five straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section titles with their easy 67-42 victory over McNair of Stockton in the Div. II section final last Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion. Courtney Range, who is perhaps on her way to becoming the top junior in Northern California, scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds. The team’s 20-point loss to La Jolla Country Day (a team Long Beach Poly has split with) means it still may take another few weeks for there to be an upward move in the rankings. The even bigger picture for this group, though, after watching all of the top Southern California teams over the weekend is that with four junior starters there may not be a team in the state with a better shot to be top five or higher for the preseason national rankings next year.
6. (6) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 26-3
Right now there’s just nowhere to move for the Dragons in the rankings. O’Dowd toasted previously undefeated Miramonte of Orinda 73-49 in the CIF North Coast Section Div. III championships to earn a fourth-straight section title. O’Dowd got out in transition quickly and often, and its tall front line led by juniors Kendal Waters and Oderah Chidom dominated inside. Waters, a 6-foot-2 junior, had 16 points, and Chidom added 14. The Northern Regional D3 top seed now earns a first-round bye and awaits the Sacramento Christian Brothers at Paradise winner.
7. (11) Brea Olinda (Brea) 24-6
For three quarters, the Ladycats had Mater Dei on the ropes in the CIFSS Div. I-AA championship. This had us wondering about La Jolla Country Day moving up to No. 1 and putting itself in a position to win out and then be named State Team of the Year. It all came crashing down, though, as the Monarchs outscored Brea 18-8 in the final quarter. It wasn’t so much a case of the Ladycats feeling the pressure and choking, but was more about Mater Dei clamping down its defense and getting the type of plays you’d expect from McDonald’s All-Americans Jordan Adams and Nirra Fields. Coach Kim Cram-Torres and team go up four spots in this week’s rankings in the aftermath of that near-upset and the one that was completed against Long Beach Poly. Having six overall losses, however, still keeps the team behind the Jackrabbits.
8. (9) Berkeley 24-2*
The Yellowjackets barely broke a sweat in their three-game run to the NCS Division I title that culminated in a 61-29 rout of a pretty good Antioch Deer Valley. The victory gave Berkeley its 21st NCS title and fifth in six years. Arizona State-bound point guard Elisha Davis scored seven of her 12 points (seven rebounds, five assists) in the first two minutes of the game to help the Yellowjackets take an 11-2 lead and the steam was already out of Deer Valley, who was held to a season low for points. Sophomore Desiree Finnie led the way in the title game with a double-double 17 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Jasmin Guinn added 13 points. Next up for the NorCal D1 top seed is a bye before meeting the Elk Grove Pleasant Grove at Palo Alto winner.
9. (17) Serra (Gardena) 27-3
In the weeks biggest victory the Cavaliers knocked off number one in the state Windward of Los Angeles in triple overtime by a 82-77 final score to capture the Southern Section Division IVAA championship. Sierra Thompson had 22 points and Rejane Verin had 20 points as they rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. With the game tied at 77 each Caila Hailey made the game-winning points at the free throw line with 6.5 seconds remaining. Seeded second in the Southern Section Division IV playoffs they will face Parlier and with a win they would then face San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno or Brentwood of Los Angeles.
10. (7) Santiago (Corona) 30-1
The Sharks had last week off after losing in the semifinals of the Southern Section Division IAA playoffs to the eventual champions Mater Dei of Santa Ana. As the number four seed they will open the state playoffs on Wednesday with a game against El Camino Real of Woodland Hills. On the same half of the bracket as Mater Dei the Sharks could have a chance to avenge their only loss this season in the regional semifinals.Lost in 1AA semis to Mater Dei
11. (8) Summit (Fontana) 26-3
We know it looks strange for the Skyhawks to win the CIFSS Div. I-A title and then drop three spots in this week’s rankings. As exciting as it is to win a CIFSS title, however, there’s a huge difference between Div. I-AA and Div. I-A. One of Summit’s losses is to a Santiago of Corona team that is 30-1 and just lost to Mater Dei 71-32, which means the Skyhawks should continue to be behind the Sharks in the rankings. In the win over the Oilers, Jillian Alleyne dominated the paint with 17 points and 20 rebounds. Summit next faces CIF Central Section runner-up Stockdale of Bakersfield in the first-round of the CIF Division I South regional playoffs.
12. (10) Lynwood 25-4
We’ve been saying all along that Coach Ellis Barfield and his girls were favorites to win the CIFSS 2AA playoffs, and lo and behold, despite drawing the fifth seed, that’s just what they did. The Knights had some trouble in a 62-60 win over top-seeded Alhambra Keppel but an easier time in a 66-55 title-game victory over J.W. North of Riverside. In actuality, the Knights blew big leads in each game. Against North, they led by 20 points midway through the third quarter but allowed it to get to 53-51 with 3:05 remaining before cashing in on the free-throw line down the stretch. The only field goal was by sophomore Priscilla Lopez (team-high 14 points), who scored on a drive after Lynwood beat the press. Jazmine Johnson (nine points) and Amber Blockmon (13 points, nine rebounds) were each 4-for-4 during that period as well.
13. (12) Carondelet (Concord) 26-3
First came a 66-26 semifinal win over Alameda, then Carondelet took care of upstart Casa Grande of Petaluma 60-45 to win the NCS Division II title after a year in D1 last season. Notre Dame-bound senior Hannah Huffman led the way with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The Cougars received the No. 2 seed in the Northern Regional Div. II playoffs and await the winner of the Alameda at Stockton McNair contest.
14. (13) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 24-5
It was anything but easy, but Coach Sue Phillips’ girls got a third win in four games against West Catholic Athletic League rival St. Ignatius 49-48 in the CCS Div. II title game. According to the ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book, the 23 section titles they now own is the most ever. Sophomore star Kelli Hayes led the way against St. Ignatius with a game-high 25 points, plus six rebounds, five steals and four blocks. Mitty received the No. 3 seed in the D2 NorCal playoffs and awaits the River City (West Sacramento) at Pleasant Valley (Chico) winner.
15. (15) Mission Bay (San Diego) 24-6
The Buccaneers were awarded the top seed in the CIF Div. III Southern Regional playoffs after an 84-68 semifinal win over crosstown Cathedral Catholic and a surprising trouncing of Mt. Miguel (Spring Valley) in the finals. Arizona-bound Keyahndra Cannon led the way against Mt. Miguel with 18 points and Briteesha Solomon added 16 points. Mission Bay was the only team to receive a bye in the 15-team D3 field and will play the Oak Park at University of Los Angeles winner on Saturday.
16. (16) J.W. North (Riverside) 27-5
Priscilla Brooks scored 18 points as the Huskies jumped out to an early 14-7 lead but then struggled the rest of the way in their 66-55 loss to Lynwood in the CIFSS Div. II-AA finals. J.W. North doesn’t drop in the rankings because Lynwood is No. 12, because the team also posted a 65-49 win last week in the semis over Ventura and because the Huskies still own a head-to-head win over Etiwanda. Brooks had 12 points and 14 rebounds while Simone De Coud scored a team-high 15 points in the semifinal win.
17. (14) St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 25-5
Of all the teams that lost in a section title game, the Wildcats’ 49-48 loss to Mitty in the CCS D2 title game was the closest. Plus, all the other teams that dropped out and were replaced lost either in the semifinals or quarterfinals. For that reason, the girls get to stay in the rankings for now. St. Ignatius drew the fourth seed in the NorCal D2 bracket which is the strongest of the five.
18. (20) Etiwanda 23-4
The Eagles did not play last week, but move up partly because a team they defeated – Summit of Fontana – won the CIFSS Div. I-A title. If Huntington Beach had won that game, then the top 20 ranking would be much different. While the Long Beach Poly team Etiwanda lost to in the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoffs went out in the semifinals it was still just a five-point margin of defeat.
19. (NR) Huntington Beach 25-5
Kelsey Minato sparked the Oilers in the 56-51 loss to No. 11 Summit with 24 points and seven rebounds. They snag a spot in the top 20 not just because of the close margin of that game, but also due to their win in the semifinals over an El Toro of Lake Forest team that they lost to by two points earlier in the season. Another plus for coach Russell McClurg’s team is a regular-season triumph over Edison of Huntington Beach.
20. (NR) Narbonne (Harbor City) 28-6
It’s time to get a Los Angeles City Section team into the rankings and that team is Coach Victoria Saunders’ Lady Gauchos. Narbonne got the No. 7 seed behind Hanford in the D1 Southern Regionals after winning the L.A. City Section D1 title with a 50-44 win over Los Angeles Fairfax. Saunders’ girls have now won 20 straight since a 42-40 loss to Bullis (Maryland) at the West Coast Jamboree in December. We considered Hanford for the top 20 as well and know of the seedings, but one of Hanford’s losses is to Millikan of Long Beach while Narbonne has a win over that same team.
Previous No. 18 Alemany (Mission Hills); No. 19. El Toro (Lake Forest).
On the Bubble:
Alemany (Mission Hills) 29-3; Bellarmine-Jefferson (Burbank) 23-8, Canyon (Anaheim) 21-8; Chaminade (West Hills) 24-5; Edison (Huntington Beach) 23-4; El Toro (Lake Forest) 26-3; Foothill (Santa Ana) 23-5; Laguna Hills 22-8; Miramonte (Orinda) 28-1; Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 23-5, Rialto 25-2*; Sacramento 25-6; Salesian (Richmond) 28-4; San Diego 27-5; St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 24-0; St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 23-7*; Stockdale (Bakersfield) 26-4.
Comments or corrections? Email Mark.Tennis@espn.com.