The CIF basketball playoffs don’t start for another week, but some of the top teams in the Southern Section and City Section got a taste of the postseason in the Nike Extravaganza at Meter Dei High School and at the Alemany Showcase this weekend. Alemany played Price in a matchup of top-20 teams in the ESPN Los Angeles rankings. Alemany won, 82-76, and Warriors coach Tray Meeks said it was important for his players to compete against an unfamiliar opponent. The Mission League has quality programs in Crespi, Harvard-Westlake and Loyola, but facing a team as talented as Price is good preparation for playoffs, Meeks said. “No disrespect to Price, but this is not a different level,” he said. “The Mission League is ranked No. 1 in the state for a reason. That’s because it’s tough night in, night out. This is just another tough game. It’s different because we don’t know one another. For the Mission League, it’s different because we all know one another. That’s where the Mission League is different. We all know one another, whereas we get a Price, we’re adjusting throughout the game, and that makes it a tough challenge. That makes it more like a playoff game.” Alemany point guard Max Guercy rallied his team in the second half. He hit three 3-pointers in the span of two minutes and helped Alemany erase a nine-point deficit. His first 3-pointer beat the buzzer to end the third quarter. In the first half, Price bottled up Guercy and held him to six points. “They were trying to get the ball out of his hands,” Meeks said. “They were doing a good job of doing that. He just adjusted and that three got him going." Alemany leads the Mission League standings with a 9-1 record. The Warriors have two more league games, beginning tonight against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Loyola is in second place in the Mission League with an 8-3 record. The Cubs have one more league game, on Wednesday against St. Francis.
Woodland Hills Taft made a playoff statement with a 73-57 win over Loyola in the Nike Extravaganza in another matchup of top-20 teams in the ESPN LA rankings. Anthony January, who had to wait until December to play for Taft after transferring from Compton, scored 26 points and has been integral in Taft’s 12-game winning streak. Brandon Perry scored 13 points for Taft, but it was his defense against high-scoring Julian Harrell, who is averaging a team-high 16 points, that stood out. He held Harrell to 10 points. Taft wraps up its West Valley League schedule this week against Birmingham and Chatsworth and will wait to see where it is seeded in the City Section Division I playoffs.
The Foothill League took an interesting turn over the weekend. Canyon’s Clay Kasdorf scored 48 points, the most of any player in the Santa Clarita Valley, in his team’s double overtime, 98-90, win over West Ranch on Friday night. Canyon and West Ranch are tied for the lead in the Foothill League standings with 6-2 records and each with two games left to play. Canyon had a 12-game winning streak and was 19-1 at one point. Canyon lost two league games in a row and dropped out of first place in the Foothill League. Meanwhile, West Ranch leap-frogged Canyon for first place in league before Friday night’s heavyweight bout, which reportedly had a heated ending. Kasdorf scored 14 points in the two overtime periods, including the first 10 of the second overtime. West Ranch’s Kevin Harris had an impressive game as well, scoring 37 points and hitting 10 3-pointers. At the end of the game, West Ranch coach Shant Bicakci confronted a Canyon assistant and security guards stepped in to separate West Ranch spectators from the Canyon coaches and players, according to the Daily News. Canyon ends the Foothill League season against Golden Valley, which hasn’t won a league game and lost its 10th game in a row on Friday night, and Hart. West Ranch is on the road for its last two league games, against Saugus and Valencia.
The race for the Marmonte League championship is coming down to the wire. Calabasas has won six games in a row and has a one-game lead over Royal in the Marmonte League standings. Calabasas has two Marmonte League games to play, including tonight’s game against Newbury Park. Royal has won three games in a row and plays Westlake on Tuesday night. Westlake could have a lot to say about who wins the Marmonte League championship. Calabasas ends the league season against Westlake, in third place with an 8-4 record, on Friday night.
The El Camino Real boys soccer team ran its West Valley League record to 6-0-2 with a 3-1 win over Birmingham on Friday. El Camino Real’s goalie, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., was shot and killed in front of his home in Winnetka on Jan. 11, after a 0-0 draw against Taft. Since then, El Camino Real has gone 6-0-1, recording three shutouts in that span. The Conquistadores scored three unanswered goals in the second half against Birmingham. Danny Cruz scored twice and Kayvon Parsa scored the go-ahead goal in the 71st minute. El Camino Real wraps up West Valley League play this week against Chatsworth on Wednesday and Granada Hills on Friday.