The conference races are beginning to heat up with several teams facing key games in their hopes of winning a conference title this week. Meanwhile, the South Coast Conference and the Western State Conference-South Division finally begins conference play — only adding to the drama as Long Beach, Cerritos, Compton battle for South Coast-South title; East LA, LA Trade Tech and Chaffey — all ranked teams — battle it out in the North Division; and West LA tries to hold off Bakersfield, LA Pierce and Santa Monica (all four had a strong preseason).
Here is a look at the Top 20 and what each faces this week.
1. Fullerton (18-1) — Fullerton ran its win streak to 16 games last week and doesn’t appear to be taking its foot off the gas pedal. The Hornets have been held under 70 points just twice this season. In its three Orange Empire Conference games, the Hornets have won by an average of 21.5 points. This week, Cypress (14-6) and Copper Mountain (11-8) get their shot at Fullerton. Surprisingly, Cypress is in the thick of the conference race with a 3-1 record, good for second place with Saddleback. Copper Mountain is just 4-6 in its last 10 games and without its head coach Devin Aye.
2. San Francisco City (18-1) — San Francisco City continues to recover from its four-point loss to Cabrillo as the Rams have restarted with a four-game win streak. And it hasn’t be pretty for the opposition. Since losing, 77-73, San Francisco City has been on a tear — averaging 86.5 points a game with a margin of victory of 26 points. This week, the Rams visit No. 20 Las Positas (15-3) and then host Chabot (8-12). At this point, it appears Las Positas is the lone program that can slow the Ram train — we said slow, not derail. The San Francisco-Las Positas game will be broadcasted by Norcal Sports — https://youtu.be/O0WfEUyHT9E.
3. Mt. San Jacinto (16-2) — Since losing to Southwestern, Mt. San Jacinto has gotten back to winning. The Eagles opened division play last week with a 12-point road win over Mira Costa. This week, Mt. San Jacinto hosts 11-8 San Diego Miramar (Wednesday) and 6-12 Palomar (Friday). The Eagles sit in a three-way tie for first place with No. 10 San Bernardino and Desert. Mt. San Jacinto is 6-2 at home and a perfect 10-0 away from the Nest. At 90 points per game, the Eagles are the second-highest scoring team in the state (San Francisco at 90.6). And, 56th in defense at 75.3 points per game.
4. Fresno City (15-3) — Winners of 13 straight, Fresno City positioned its self for its 18th consecutive conference title after defending homecourt in a 72-61 victory over Columbia. By no means has the engraver began on the Central Valley Conference trophy. Fresno faces a schedule that has them playing six of its final 10 games on the road, including at Sequoias (February 2) and at Columbia (February 13). This week, Fresno hits the road for two of those road contests — at Merced Wednesday and at Reedley on Saturday. Both begin the week 8-10.
5. East Los Angeles (15-3) — Since falling to Cerritos on December 21, East Los Angeles has run off eight straight wins. However, winning No. 9 and No. 10 this week might prove difficult. The Huskies, who edged Long Beach City last week 77-74 in overtime, open conference play this week against Chaffey and then visit Pasadena to take on a hot Lancer team. Chaffey (13-5) is ranked XXXX this week, while Pasadena has won seven of its last 10 games, including a surprising victory over Cerritos last week.
6. Long Beach City (15-3) — Long Beach City almost made it through unscathed. Faced with a three-game stretch of games against LA Trade Tech, Pasadena and East Los Angeles, the Vikings routed LA Trade Tech by 17 and then beat Pasadena by 11. However, the magic ended when East Los Angeles rallied for a 77-74 overtime win. This week, Long Beach City opens conference play against 13-5 Cerritos and then travels to Compton (9-9).
7. Gavilan (17-2) — Gavilan begins the week in a tie with West Valley for the Coast-South title. The Rams turned back Cabrillo, the team expected to push Gavilan for the conference title. This week, it will be 8-12 Monterey and West Valley (9-10), which begins the week tied with Gavilan for first place, chance at unseating Gavilan. West Valley has won three in a row headed into its game at winless San Jose on Wednesday.
8. Southwestern (15-4) — Southwestern ran its win streak to six games with a conference-opening victory over Cuyamaca. This week, the Jaguars hosts 7-11 Imperial Valley and then squares off San Diego City (10-9). The Knights appear to be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of Southwestern and its conference championship hopes. These two teams have met once this this season with Southwestern pulling out a six-point win in overtime.
9. San Joaquin Delta (14-5) — San Joaquin Delta climbed 10 spots this week, by far the biggest move by a team this season. Since dropping its conference opener to Santa Rosa, the Mustangs have been on a tear — winning six straight games. This week, San Joaquin Delta will need to prove it is worthy of a top 10 ranking when the Mustangs host Santa Rosa on Friday. But before Friday comes Wednesday when Sacramento City will get a shot at taming the Mustangs.
10. San Bernardino Valley (14-5) — San Bernardino Valley appears headed into the right direction as the Wolverines prepare for the start of division play. San Bernardino Valley has won seven straight games, including its conference opener against San Diego Miramar. This week, the Wolverines host 6-12 Palomar and then travels to College of the Desert, which begins the week tied for the conference lead with Wolverines and Mt. San Jacinto.
11. Chaffey (13-5) — Since losing consecutive games, Chaffey has run off four straight wins. This week, the Panthers open conference play at East Los Angeles and then hosts Mt. San Antonio. The East LA game(s) will play a role in deciding the conference title.
12. Allan Hancock (16-3) — Allan Hancock had its eight-game streak stopped when Santa Monica tamed the Bulldogs, 81-71. Allan Hancock, however, righted the ship with an 82-68 victory over Oxnard in both teams’ conference opener. This week. Allan Hancock hosts 10-9 Ventura in a key conference game and then travels to take on Moorpark (9-10). Ventura begins the week tied with Allan Hancock and Moorpark atop the conference standings after opening wins.
13. LA Trade Tech (14-3) — LA Trade Tech opens conference play this week with home games against 8-9 Mt. San Antonio and then Rio Hondo (3-15). The Beavers have won nine of their last 10 games headed into this week. That one was a 17-point loss to Long Beach on January 11. The Beavers need to stay focused this week because after this week they face a stretch of Pasadena, Chaffey and East Los Angeles.
14. Santa Rosa (14-5) — Each year, the Big 8 Conference produces one of the best races in the state and this year is looking no different as Santa Rosa, the defending conference champions, begins the week a game behind San Joaquin Delta, with three other teams just two games behind. The Cubs were shocked by Diablo Valley in overtime last Friday. The victory by Diablo Valley was just the Vikings’ sixth win of the season. While it was a blow to Santa Rosa it wasn’t a death blow. It cost the Cubs just a spot in the state poll this week and a game in the standings. One they can get back when Santa Rosa visits Stockton on Saturday. San Joaquin Delta, which is 7-1 at home this season, suffered it lone conference loss at the claws of the Cubs. But before Santa Rosa can think about the Mustangs, the Cubs need to take care of 8-11 Folsom Lake on Wednesday.
15. Cabrillo ( 14-5) — Cabrillo falls a spot this week after failing in wrestling the conference lead from Gavilan. In that game, Trey Whitley scored a game-high 30 points — nearly 50 percent of the Seahawks’ total points. This week, Cabrillo has just a lone game — visiting DeAnza (8-11) on Wednesday. Cabrillo has one final shot at Gavilan on the road on February 8.
16. Cerritos (13-5) — Cerritos struggles have come at the worse times. The Falcons open conference play this week — and out of the gate have to face No. 6 Long Beach City. Cerritos has lost three of its last four games. Two of the three losses came against ranked teams — Chaffey, LA Trade Tech. The other came against Pasadena (at home). In the loss to Pasadena, Cerritos managed just one point in the final 2:50 minutes of the game. In addition to traveling to Long Beach, Cerritos hosts El Camino (4-14) Friday
17. Yuba (16-4) — Yuba climbs four slots this week as the 49’ers ride a five-game win streak. Yuba begins the week clinging to one-game lead in the conference race. Merritt (11-8) and Contra Costa (9-10) begin the week a game behind Yuba with another three teams, two games back. The 49’ers Massey Ranking is 29th in the state. The next best team — from the conference — is Mendocino at 52. Still, the race may produce some drama down stretch. In its only game this week, the 49’ers visit Los Medanos (11-8), one of five programs within striking distance of Yuba, on Friday.
18. Citrus (12-6) — Citrus missed out on a chance at a signature win last week when its final nonconference game (against Mt. San Jacinto) had to be cancelled due to the campus being on lock down. This week, the Owls host Glendale and then hit the road for a game in Barstow. Citrus opened conference play with a 79-75 victory over LA Valley. The Owls opened a 12-point halftime lead and then had to fight off a hard charging Monarch club for the win.
19. Columbia (14-4) — Columbia falls three slots this week as the Claim Jumpers begin the week a game behind Fresno City in the Central Valley Conference race. Columbia recovered from its nine-point loss to Fresno by blowing out Reedley, 88-63. This week, Columbia faces road contests at Porterville and then at Sequoias. Both programs begin the week a game behind Columbia and two behind Fresno City. Another big week for Columbia.
20. Las Positas (15-3) — Las Positas begins the week tied with No. 2 San Francisco atop the Coast-North standings. That is the good news. The bad news is Las Positas, winners of seven straight, takes on a rolling San Francisco team on Wednesday. Currently, Las Positas is perfect in January winning all of its six games. To keep the streak going Michael Hayes, the conference’s leading scorer at 23.6 points a game and rebounder (9.6 per game), will need a big game.
21. Saddleback (12-8) — Saddleback suffered a 51-47 setback to Irvine Valley last week, but still finds itself in the top 25. After falling to Irvine Valley, the Gauchos got right back on the horse by posting a 10-point win over previous No. 18 Santiago Canyon. This week, Saddleback, which is tied for second, hits the highway for road games at Orange Coast a(3-17) and Santa Ana (7-12).
22. West LA (14-6) — West LA has quietly won six straight games and seven of its last 10 contests. This week, West LA opens conference competition, hosting 12-8 LA Pierce on Wednesday and then visiting Santa Monica (12-8) on Saturday. Both LA Pierce and Santa Monica have won six of their last 10 games.
23. Canada (14-5) — It has been a tough start in the Coast-South for Canada. The Colts, who began conference with a 13-3 record, has dropped two of its first three conference games. One of those losses came at the hands of Chabot, a sub .500 team. Canada begins the week two games back San Francisco and Las Positas. This week, the Colts get Skyline, which a game a game ahead of Canada, and No. 20 Las Positas. If Canada is to be a position to contend for the conference title In February then this is a must sweep week for the Colts.
24. Santiago Canyon (13-6) — The Hawks had a five-game win streak snapped when Saddleback scored a 78-68 win last Friday. Because of the loss Santiago Canyon finds itself a game back behind Fullerton in the race for the conference title. This week, Santiago Canyon hosts 4-16 Irvine Valley and then visits Santa Ana (7-12).
25. Sequoias (11-7) — Sequoias has quietly won four straight games after losing consecutive Central Valley Conference games to open conference play. If you were to look at the Giants’ last four contests it appears Sequoias has found its defensive game. The Giants allowed the opposition an average of 55 points per contest. They held Reedley to just 37 points in an 87-37 victory. This week, Sequoias, which is two games behind conference-leading Fresno City, hosts Cerro Coso (8-10) before squaring off against No. 19 Columbia on Saturday.
1. San Francisco
2. Fresno City
4. San Joaquin Delta
5. Santa Rosa
9. Las Positas
14. Feather River
15. Cosumnes River
2. Mt. San Jacinto
3. East Los Angeles
4. Long Beach City
6. San Bernardino Valley
8. Allan Hancock
9. LA Trade Tech
13. West Los Angeles
14. Santiago Canyon