What a season, so much to reflect on, so little time.
The level of boys' basketball play in the Southland was seemingly at an all-time high this past season, most certainly right on par with what we have seen around here in years past.
The players. The coaches. The games. The drama. That said, we figured it was about time to unveil the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings for the final time this season. Enjoy!
1. (2) Mater Dei (32-2): This group was supposed to be a year away from making an impact. But low and behold, juniors Xavier Johnson and Kaitin Reinhardt won a state title. Division I, no less.
2. (1) Long Beach Poly (31-2): All signs pointed to the Jackrabbits being capable of finishing as the wire-to-wire top-ranked team. Ultimately, however, the target on their backs was a bit too big.
3. (4) Corona Centennial (30-5): Dominique Dunning, Michael Caffey and Gelaun Wheelwright made a nice run. Capping off their senior campaigns with a championship was not in the cards though.
4. (3) Taft (29-3): The Toreadors were the odds-on favorite to win a City Section ring right before the season began. True to form, they had little, or no trouble living up to the rather lofty expectations.
5. (5) Loyola (25-6): Talk about not backing down from any challenges, the Cubs played one of the toughest schedules around. Make no mistake, they managed to hold their own in the process.
6. (6) Etiwanda (29-4): Most observers agreed that the Eagles were going to go as far as Byron Wesley would take them. Once postseason play started, the USC-bound senior did not disappoint.
7. (7) Orange Lutheran (27-7): Senior James Douglas is gone, having committed to Northern Arizona. Junior Gabe York returns which means the Lancers will be a formidable unit in the future.
8. (14) Ventura (29-3): Somehow, someway, the Cougars flew underneath the radar during the regular season. Rest assured, everyone knew plenty about them after the Southern Section playoffs.
9. (17) La Verne Lutheran (26-5): Turned tragedy into triumph. The Trojans overcame the loss of three people closely associated to the program and ended up with a Division III state championship.
10. (18) Windward (27-8): Wesley Saunders did a little bit of everything, most of it well. When all was said and done, he guided the Wildcats to a their second straight state title, this time in Division IV.
11. (NR) La Canada (30-4): If you leave Mike McGlashan open out on the perimeter, he'll make you pay more often than not. Opponents learned as much the hard way over the past couple months.
12. (NR) Summit (28-8): No one gave the SkyHawks much, if any, credit this season. Perhaps that best explains why they were so thoroughly focused during their surprisingly deep playoff run.
13. (9) Harvard-Westlake (29-5): When it comes to talented big men, senior Damiene Cain set the standard. Nevertheless, junior Zena Edosomwan appears to be heading down a similar path.
14. (8) Westchester (27-8): Third time was not the charm for the Comets, who failed in their attempt to win a third straight state title. This group figures to bounce back sooner rather than later.
15. (13) Price (23-8): So much potential, so far from realizing it. Norvel Pelle and Askia Booker got off to a disappointing start and never recovered by the time the playoffs rolled around.
16. (NR) Gahr (26-8): Good guard play typically goes a long way in tournament-style play. And the Gladiators received just that from Davon Potts during the Southern Section playoffs.
17. (11) Mission Viejo (29-3): The Diablos' potent inside-and-out combination of Isaac Neilson and James Cramer gave opposing coaches absolute fits from start to finish this season.
18. (10) Peninsula (30-3): With Reese Morgan in the lineup, the Panthers seemingly always had a chance to win. Finding a replacement for the senior captain will not be an easy task.
19. (12) Anaheim Canyon (26-4): At 5-foot-9, Chris Anderson might have been undersized. But the senior didn't play like it and averaged 20.8 points, 7.6 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game.
20. (20) Foothill (23-9): A team no one wanted to face in the postseason, the Knights put forth a particularly good showing in Southern Section playoffs, as well as the state tournament.
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
NOTE: The ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 is independent of the regional rankings, which are compiled by the bloggers who cover each of those regions.