Frank Burlison’s Southern California Top 25 HS Teams

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Ca. – It is CIF sectional championship week in Southern California.

Oodles and oodles (that would be 12 in the Southern Section, six in the L.A. City Section and six in the San Diego Section) of pieces of title hardware will be on the line at multiple sites in L.A., Orange and San Diego counties.

The most high-profile of those championship tilts, though, will be played in the three sections’ respective Open divisions.

And the most noteworthy of those will be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim Saturday night at 6:30, when the Southern Section showdown will pit unbeaten and top-ranked (everywhere) Chino Hills against No. 3 seed Sierra Canyon, ranked No. 6 in the newest MaxPreps national Top 25 posted on Monday.

Lonzo Ball and his Chino Hills teammates shredded Inglewood (112-78) and Mater Dei (102-54) last week while Sierra Canyon – led by a terrific guard duo in Devearl Ramsey and Remy Martin and a dominant junior post in Cody Riley – survived its two toughest tests vs. Southern California competition this season while beating Redondo and Bishop Montgomery.

The Huskies, who have topped the century mark in scoring 16 times, have a collective eight wins against teams in the 16-team Open Division bracket and have out-scored them, 96.5 to 71.4.

Sierra Canyon isn’t one of those teams, though.

And the fact that the Trailblazers handled Bishop Montgomery (78-69 after leading by as many as 17 points in the second half) with much less difficulty than did the Huskies (71-67 in late January) is the source of confidence on behalf of the Sierra Canyon players and some observers that the title game isn’t going be decided in yet another Chino Hills blowout.

The programs haven’t met in a regular-season game (even with both in the first two CIF SS Open Division brackets) but the teams did hook up in a Ron Massey Memorial Classic semifinal at Long Beach Jordan about five months ago (Sept. 20).

The Trailblazers led by as many as 13 points with about six minutes to go and were still in front by six some three minutes or so later.

But Lonzo Ball passed to younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo for consecutive 3s, the second of which tied the score at 74 with 1:48 remaining.

After the teams traded turnovers, Ira Lee hit a short jumper to put Sierra Canyon up by a deuce with 1:14 to go.

Lonzo tied the score on a floater in the lane but Sierra Canyon missed the opportunity to go in front when Riley couldn’t convert over the defense of Lonzo Ball, who rebounded the miss.

After a Sierra Canyon foul that resulted in Chino Hills taking the ball out of bounds (the Trailblazers hadn’t yet hit the penalty), Lonzo Ball held his dribble before starting to penetrate and then delivering the pass to a wide-open LiAngelo Ball, who buried a 23-footer from the left wing with two seconds to go and the 79-76 victory.

Remy Martin, a scintillating junior, scored a team-high 23 points for Sierra Canyon but the Trailblazers’ best player in the game was Lee (18 points and 12 rebounds), who transferred to Prolific Prep (in Napa, CA) early in January.

And something else to factor into what might transpire in Anaheim: Chino Hills’ freshmen LaMelo Ball and 6-9 Onyeka Okongwu have improved considerably over those five months.

The L.A. City Open championship will be held at 8 o’clock (Pacific Time) about 25 miles west of Anaheim in Carson’s Cal State Dominguez Hills’ gymnasium.

It will pit No. 9 Westchester vs. No. 14 Narbonne in a rematch (of sorts) of a game played – and won by the Comets, 62-54 – on Dec. 26 during the first round of the DI-Bound Tournament at L.A. Cathedral High.

But four key Gauchos – guards Jamal Hicks and Daniel Brown, and posts Dominic Peterson and Alex Akingbulu – were just seven days removed from having played in football’s team state championship victory in Sacramento.

The San Diego section will hold its Open final Saturday night at the University of San Diego with the winner of the Wednesday night Torrey Pines-Foothills Christian and St. Augustine-Cathedral Catholic semifinal clashes earning spots in the game set to tip off at 8 o’clock.

BurlisonOnBasketball Southern California Top 25
(From the CIF Southern, L.A. City and San Diego sections)
(Record/last week’s rating)

1. Chino Hills (30-0/#1)
FB Says: Digest this – the Huskies have beaten three playoff foes by an average margin of 39 points! Saturday schedule: CIF SS Open Division championship, vs. No. 2 Sierra Canyon, Honda Center, 6:30 p.m.

2. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (26-3/#3)
FB Says: A quarterfinal vs. No. 6 Redondo (winning by four points after trailing by six in the fourth quarter) proved tougher than its semifinal with (then) No. 2 Bishop Montgomery. Saturday schedule: CIF SS Open Division championship, vs. No. 1 Chino Hills, Honda Center, 6:30 p.m.

3. Torrance Bishop Montgomery (26-2/#2)
FB Says: The Knights needed a 3 by sophomore David Singleton with three seconds to go in OT to get by then-No. 7 Damien last Tuesday night before they fell to Sierra Canyon Friday night. Next game: State Southern Open regional/TBD Sunday.

4. Santa Ana Mater Dei (27-4/#4)
FB Says: The Monarchs dominated Centennial in the quarterfinal and then were dominated – big time – by Chino Hills Friday night at Ayala High. Next game: State Southern Open regional/TBD Sunday.

5. El Cajon Foothills Christian (22-4/#5)
FB Says: With a Wednesday win, T.J. Leaf and Friends will face No. 13 Cathedral Catholic or No. 16 St. Augustine Saturday at the University of San Diego. Wednesday schedule: CIF San Diego Open Division semifinal, vs. Torrey Pines at Cuyamaca College, 7 p.m.

6. Redondo Beach Redondo Union (23-5/#6)
FB Says: The inability to keep Sierra Canyon off the free-throw line prevented a Sea Hawks’ upset last Tuesday night before they bounced back to win at Compton Friday. Tuesday schedule: CIF SS Open Division consolation semifinal, at No. 17 Alemany, 7:30 p.m.

7. Santa Monica (28-2/#8)
FB Says: If it is to win Saturday, Temecula Valley will need to do what few have done this season – slow down USC-bound Jonah Mathews. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 1A Division championship, vs. Temecula Valley, Honda Center, 10 a.m.

8. Corona Centennial (23-7/#9)
FB Says: The Huskies bounced back from their quarterfinal loss at Mater Dei to overwhelm Big VIII League foe Roosevelt Friday night. Tuesday schedule: CIF SS Open Division consolation semifinal, at No. 12 Crespi, 7 p.m.

9. L.A. Westchester (26-5/#11)
FB Says: It wasn’t the most pleasant thing to watch, esthetically, but the win over Dorsey earned the Comets a trek to Carson and a spot in the State Southern Open Regional. Saturday schedule: L.A. City Open Division championship, vs. No. 14 Narbonne, Cal State Dominguez Hills, 8 p.m.

10. Chino Hills Ayala (28-3/#12)
FB Says: Ayala also trying to bring the city of Chino Hills a section championship back from Anaheim. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 2AA Division championship, vs. Huntington Beach Edison, Honda Center, 8:30 p.m.

11. La Verne Damien (25-5/#7)
FB Says: The Spartans lost OT gut-crunchers to Bishop Montgomery and Alemany last week. Next game: State Southern D1 regional/TBD.

12. Encino Crespi (26-4/#13)
FB Says: It was a nice week for Coach Russell White’s crew via wins over Orange Lutheran and Inglewood. Tuesday schedule: CIF SS Open Division consolation semifinal, vs. No. 8 Centennial, 7 p.m.

13. San Diego Cathedral Catholic (19-5/#14)
FB Says: The squad will have to make it 3-0 vs. the Saints this season to get to the University of San Diego on Saturday night. Wednesday schedule: CIF San Diego Open Division semifinal, vs. No. 16 St. Augustine, 7 p.m.

14. Harbor City Narbonne (23-6/#15)
FB Says: The Gauchos advanced to their first “major” L.A. City title game via an often dominating performance vs. Fairfax Saturday night at the Roybal Learning Center. Saturday schedule: L.A. City Open Division championship, vs. No. 9 Westchester, Cal State Dominguez Hills, 8 p.m.

15. L.A. Fairfax (27-4/#10)
FB Says: The Lions, L.A. City Open champions and regional runners-up a year ago, now are heading for D-I in state competition after their semifinal loss to Narbonne. Tuesday schedule: L.A. City Open Division consolation semifinal, vs. Woodland Hills Taft, 7 p.m.

16. San Diego St. Augustine (22-5/#18)
FB Says: A .333 “batting average” against Cathedral Catholic on the season would get the Saints to the Saturday Open title game. Wednesday schedule: CIF San Diego Open Division semifinal, at No. 13 Cathedral Catholic, 7 p.m.

17. Mission Hills Alemany (23-7/#19)
FB Says: They were “Road Warriors” last week with wins at Santa Margarita and Damien. Tuesday schedule: CIF SS Open Division consolation semifinal, vs. No. 6 Redondo Union, 7:30 p.m.

18. Oak Park (25-6/#24)
FB Says: Sophomore post Riley Battin has been quite dominant in the playoffs. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 3A Division championship, vs. La Verne Bonita, Honda Center, 4 p.m.

19. Eastvale Roosevelt (21-8/#17)
FB Says: Coach Steve Singleton’s team was .500 last week in consolation competition, winning at Los Alamitos and losing at home to Centennial. Next game: State Southern DI regional/TBD Sunday.

20. Inglewood (21-8/#16)
FB Says: The Sentinels got slapped around by Chino Hills last Tuesday night at home before losing, also at home, to Crespi Friday night. Next game: State Southern DI regional/TBD Sunday.

21. Los Alamitos (23-6/#21)
FB Says: The Griffins drew a standing-room-only crowd for their consolation quarterfinal loss to Roosevelt. Next game: State Southern DII regional/TBD Sunday.

22. Orange Lutheran (21-8/#23)
FB Says: Having the better part of two weeks without games should help KaVaughn Scott’s right ankle get a bit healthier for state regional competition. Next game: State Southern DII regional/TBD Sunday.

23. Lynwood (23-5/#25)
FB Says: Overlooked by many for most of the season, the Knights are a win short of a SS crown Saturday. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 2A Division championship, vs. Santa Barbara, Honda Center, Noon.

24. Long Beach Poly (20-9/UR)
FB Says: The Jackrabbits will attempt to win their second SS title in three years under Coach Shelton Diggs. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 1AA Division championship, vs. No. 25 JW North, Honda Center, 2 p.m.

25. Riverside JW North (26-4/UR)
FB Says: After a combined 2-3 “Open” record in 2014 and ’15, the Huskies are one win short of a SS championship in 2016. Saturday schedule: CIF SS 1AA Division championship, vs. No. 24 Long Beach Poly, Honda Center, 2 p.m.

Tapping at the cusp of the Top 25 (alphabetical): Lake Balboa Birmingham 20-8; Calabasas 24-7; Compton 21-10; Diamond Ranch 23-8; La Canada 27-3; Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 28-3; Santa Barbara 30-1; Santa Margarita 17-11; Woodland Hills Taft 26-6 and Temecula Valley 28-4.