San Francisco City College returned to No. 1 in this week's CCCMBCA state ranking after Fullerton's loss to unranked Copper Mountain. The loss not only cost the Hornets the state's top ranking, but also the south's No. 1 ranking as Mt. San Jacinto edges Fullerton. San Francisco, the defending state champions, secured all 20 first-place votes. Fullerton lands at No. 3 after losing to the Fightin' Cacti and then struggling against Cypress. There is a number of great games this week, led by No. 2 Mt. San Jacinto at No. 9 San Bernardino Valley, No. 3 Fullerton vs. No. 16 Santiago and No. 24 Sequoias vs. No. 4 Fresno Cit. Buckle up, the conference races are heating up.
Top 25 State Poll
1. San Francisco (20-1/20 first place votes) — The defending state champs return to its perch this week as the Rams secure all 20 first-place votes. The Rams secured the No. 1 ranking with Fullerton’s loss to Copper Mountain. San Francisco has won six straight after falling to Cabrillo in the finals of the Delta Tournament on December 16. Since then, the Rams have taken out their frustration on their opponents — outscoring the opposition by 27.8 points a game. The Ram machine shows no sign of slowing down. This week, San Francisco, which begins the week with a one-game lead over Las Positas, hosts 4-17 Ohlone and then visits Skyline (8-13).
2. Mt. San Jacinto (18-2) — Mt. San Jacinto head coach Patrick Springer must have given an amazing inspirational (other adjectives work here) halftime speech last Saturday when his Eagles trailed Palomar at halftime. In the end, Mt. San Jacinto, now the south’s top-ranked team, ended up beating Palomar by 26 points thanks to a 64-point second half. Lenzell Simmons came off the bench to score 18 points while Deshawn Millington and David Thompson added 17 and 16 points, respectively. Hopefully, Springer has a great pregame pep talk ready for Wednesday when the Eagles face their biggest predator —No. 9 San Bernardino Valley. Mt. San Jacinto is 10-0 on the road and the Wolverines are 6-1 at home. Mt. San Jacinto and San Bernardino will begin the week 3-0, but only one will emerge 4-0 on Wednesday night. This game will feature two of the state’s most potent offenses — Mt. San Jacinto averages 90.4 points per game (second in the state) and San Bernardino averages 85.5 points a game (third best). Will it be an offensive explosion or will one team’s defense step up — where San Bernardino is 34th in the state and Mt. San Jacinto is just 54th. There will be a number of athletes on the floor for this one! The Eagles also fly to Desert on Saturday where Springer will square off against Trent Skinner, a former assistant.
3. Fullerton (19-2) — Fullerton had its state-leading 17-game win streak snapped by unranked Copper Mountain. The Hornets, who began the week ranked No. 1, scored just 63 points against Copper Mountain after averaging over 80 points. More alarming is that Fullerton’s bench produced just three points and three rebounds in 51 minutes. Also, Fullerton shot a season-low 33.9 percent (20 of 59) from the floor. It was second consecutive game the Hornets shot below 40 percent from the floor and the third time this season. The Hornets also had their worse night at the free throw line, making 14 of 23 (60.9 percent). The end result is Fullerton sits in a three-way tie atop the conference standings with Santiago Canyon and Saddleback. And both remain on Fullerton’s schedule. In fact, Fullerton travels to Santiago Canyon (15-6) on Friday after hosting Orange Coast (3-19) on Wednesday. The Hornets will be at Saddleback to close out the regular season on February 22. This conference race is just getting started it appears.
4. Fresno (17-3) — The Ram Machine just keeps churning out wins. Fresno’s win streak has reached 15, the best in the state with Fullerton losing last Friday. The Rams, who are trying to win their 18th consecutive conference title, holds a two-game lead over Sequoias and 2 ½ over Columbia. This week, Fresno hosts West Hills-Lemoore and then hits the road for a “showdown” with Sequoias, winners of six straight after knocking off Columbia, 77-68.
5. East Los Angeles (17-3) — With 10 consecutive wins, East Los Angeles has the second-longest win streak in the state. But it hasn’t been easy. In the Huskies last three contests, the margin of victory has been less than three points. And two of their last three games required an extra five minutes. East LA will begin the week tied with LA Trade Tech in the race for the South Coast-North Division title. This week, the Huskies host 8-11 Mt. San Antonio and travel to Rio Hondo (3-17) before a showdown with LA Trade Tech next Wednesday on the road.
6. Gavilan (19-2) — Gavilan has quietly won 14 of its last 15 games, losing only to No. 1 San Francisco back on January 4. The Rams, who begin the week with a one-game lead on Cabrillo and West Valley, host last-place San Jose and then travel to take on Hartnell (9-12). Next week, Gavilan begins round 2 of conference competition which includes hosting Cabrillo on February 8.
7. Southwestern (17-4) — In perhaps the state’s best game last week, Southwestern outlasted — for the second time – San Diego City, 81-79, thanks to a last-second basket by Marquavian Stephens (16 points to lead Southwestern). The loss snapped San Diego City’s 30-game conference win streak. Southwestern will begin this week tied with San Diego Mesa in the race for Pacific Coast-South Division title. The Jaguars visit Grossmont before returning home to take on San Diego Mesa on Friday in possibly a battle for the conference lead. Southwestern plays four of its final seven games on the road where the Jaguars are 9-3.
8. San Joaquin Delta (16-5) — San Joaquin Delta extended its conference-leading lead to two games with an 80-76 victory over Santa Rosa last Friday. Delta got up 48-40 at half and managed to hold off the Cubs. The victory was the Mustangs eighth straight. This week, SJ Delta travels to 6-14 Modesto and then hosts third-place Cosumnes River (11-10). The Mustangs are 2-0 against this week’s competition.
9. San Bernardino Valley (16-5) — After losing consecutive games, San Bernardino has run off nine straight wins, playing probably its best basketball on the season. Closest margin of victory in the run has been 10 points at home against Imperial Valley on December 22, the first of their nine consecutive wins. The largest has been consecutive 30-point wins – in their last two games. No. 2 Mt. San Jacinto and San Bernardino will begin the week 3-0, but only one will emerge 4-0 on Wednesday night. In their nine wins, San Bernardino has been held under 80 points, twice. This game will feature two of the state’s most potent offenses — Mt. San Jacinto averages 90.4 points per game (second in the state) and San Bernardino averages 85.5 points a game (third best). Will it an offensive explosion or will one team’s defense step up — where San Bernardino is 34th in the state and Mt. San Jacinto is just 54th. After the Eagles, the Wolverines also face a road game against MiraCosta (11-10) the division’s third-place team.
10. Cerritos (15-5) — So, let’s see if we have this straight. Cerritos losses by 27 points at home to Chaffey, its worst home loss in the program’s history, then losses to LA Trade Tech on the road by 15, and follows it up with a four-point loss at home to unranked Pasadena. Cerritos was No. 10 when its lost to Chaffey; and LA Trade Tech was coming off a 17-point loss to Long Beach; and the loss to Pasadena gave the Lancers their biggest win in four years. So, after losing three of four, the Falcons blow out conference-favorite Long Beach City, 94-75, and then dismantles El Camino, 99-53. So, when done and said the voters put Cerritos back in the top 10 – at No. 10 It also begs the question, what will head coach Russ May get this week from his Falcons. Cerritos begins the week 2-0 and tied with LA Southwest atop the South Coast-South standings. The Falcons host Compton (9-11 and winless in the division) and then takes on LA Southwest (8-12) on the road. What could possibly go wrong?
11. Long Beach City (16-4) — A week ago, Long Beach City was the favorite for the division title. Now, however, unless Cerritos should go cold (which they have shown it can do) the best the Vikings can hope for is probably a share of the division title. Long Beach is a game out of first place with home games this week against LA Harbor (9-11) and El Camino (4-16). As of now, only two teams in the division have records above .500 (Long Beach and Cerritos). So, wisdom would lead us to believe that Long Beach’s chances of at least a share of the division title rest with the February 8 game at Cerritos. A co-title also probably gets Long Beach City a top 8 regional seed thanks to its top 10 Massey Ranking.
12. LA Trade Tech (16-3) — LA Trade Tech, winners of four straight, will play five of its remaining eight games on the road. This week, the Beavers hit the road for road contests at Pasadena City and No. 20 Chaffey. Pasadena City may be the most improved team this season. The Lancers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, with losses coming against Imperial Valley (by 3), Long Beach (by 11) and East LA (by 1 in OT). This will be Pasadena’s second shot at LA Trade Tech. They first met on November 17 in the finals of the tournament at Pasadena. In that game, Pasadena couldn’t hold a one-point halftime lead, suffered through a 34.4 percent shooting night and couldn’t shut down Erickson Gonzalez-De Leon who came off the bench to score 21 points for the Beavers. The Beavers also have a showdown with East LA next week on the horizon.
13. Yuba (17-4) — Winners of six straight, Yuba makes a move in this week’s poll, climbing four slots. The 49’ers begin the week with a modest ½ game lead on Merritt in the race for the conference title. Yuba has won six straight and is 9-1 in its last 10 games. This week, the 49’ers host 4-16 Solano and then travel to Merritt (13-8) for its second meeting. Merritt handed Yuba its lone conference loss back on January 2 when Solomon Bland came off the bench to score 17 points in a 63-60 Merritt win. Expect another close one Friday, especially since it could be the game that closes out the conference title for Yuba.
14. Saddleback (13-8) — The Gauchos’ loss to Irvine Valley (51-47 on January 16) looms even larger now with Fullerton’s stunning loss to Copper Mountain. Instead of sitting alone in first place, Saddleback begins the week locked in a three-way tie for the conference lead. The Gauchos handed Santiago Canyon its lone conference loss last Wednesday which keeps Saddleback in the race for the conference title. This week, Saddleback visits Santa Ana and then hosts Cypress, a team that came with four points of knocking off Fullerton last Friday and is just a game behind the first-place pack. After this week, Saddleback’s final stretch includes Irvine Valley (at home), Santiago Canyon (on the road), Riverside (on the road) and a home game on the final day with — Fullerton. Stay tuned, going to be good to the very end!
15. Santa Rosa (15-6) — It isn’t looking good for the Cubs to repeat as conference champs after falling two games behind San Joaquin Delta with seven games remaining. The loss, despite 27 points from Skylar Chavez, means Santa Rosa will need some help from the remaining Big 8 Conference teams. This week, in its only game, Santa Rosa hosts Sacramento City (12-9). Sacramento, at 4-5 and in fifth place, is fighting for its playoff life. As much as Santa Rosa needs help, the Cubs need to continue to do its part – no let down.
16. Santiago Canyon (15-6) — Santiago Canyon begins the week in a three-way tie for Orange Empire Conference title thanks to Copper Mountain’s stunning upset of previous No. 1 Fullerton last Friday. The question now is how long can the Hawks stick around? We will find out on Friday. In its only game this week, Santiago Canyon hosts Fullerton, the team’s only meeting in conference competition. Will having a week to prepare for Fullerton payoff? After Fullerton, the Hawks travel to . . . the Snake Pit (renamed after Cacti’s win over Fullerton) at Copper Mountain and then travel to Riverside and then host Saddleback. This four-game stretch may very well be the toughest in the state. Will the Hawks fly high or . . . ? I am glad, at least for the next three weeks, that I am not Santiago Canyon head coach Todd Dixon. I like my sleep!
17. Chaffey (14-6) — Chaffey falls nine slots this week. The Panthers begin the week a game behind East LA and LA Trade Tech. Having already lost to East LA, the Panthers are looking at a must-win situation when LA Trade Tech comes to town on Friday. Chaffey has wins over three programs ranked above them — Southwestern, San Bernardino and Cerritos and losses have come against all ranked opponents, some of which who are ranked below them. So, who knows what Chaffey team will emerge from the locker room this week. Rio Hondo (3-17) on Wednesday and a showdown with 16-3 LA Trade Tech on Friday.
18. Cabrillo (15-5) — Cabrillo begins the week tied with West Valley for second place in the Coast-South and a game behind Gavilan. If the Seahawks want to keep their conference title hopes alive they will need to beat West Valley on Wednesday, and vice versa. West Valley is coming off a thumping by Gavilan (82-60). Cabrillo is 6-3 at home, losing to Las Positas, Allan Hancock and Gavilan — all ranked teams. West Valley is 6-7 away from its home confines.
19. Citrus (14-6) — Since losing to West LA in overtime, the Owls have begun to rebuild its reputation. This week, Citrus takes a modest three-game win streak into action. The Owls will visit a struggling Antelope Valley team (loses in six of its last seven) and then host a Victor Valley squad that has lost five of its last eight, but has shown ability to pull off big wins such as beating Southwestern. However, the best race might be for second and a shot at a possible post-season berth between LA Valley (12-9) and Glendale (9-12). Both begin the week trailing Citrus by a game.
20. Las Positas (16-4) — Las Positas had its seven-game wins streak snapped by No. 1 San Francisco, 92-63. The Hawks recovered, although, it was a nail bitter over Skyline, 79-76. Las Positas begins the week securely in second place — 1 ½ games up on Canada and Foothill colleges and two games up on Skyline. Ironically, Las Positas hosts 15-5 and No. 23 Canada and Foothill (8-11) this week in key games for that conference runner-up spot. The Hawks are tough at home — 8-2 — with losses to Lassen and San Francisco.
21. Ventura (12-9) — Previous unranked Ventura took control of its Western State division race with an 83-82 upset of previously No. 12 Allan Hancock. The Pirates stole the victory, rallying from a 46-34 halftime deficit and 11 points with 6:36 remaining. The victory was the Pirates’ fourth consecutive and moved them into sole possession of first place, a game ahead of Allan Hancock and Cuesta and Moorpark. This week, Ventura will defend that lead as the Pirates host Cuesta (15-6) on Wednesday and then visit Moorpark (10-11) on Saturday. Typically, Ventura is one of the toughest places to play in the state. However, the Pirates are just 2-4 at home.
22. Allan Hancock (17-4) — The Bulldogs have lost two of its last four, resulting in a slide in this week’s poll — down 10 spots. Allan Hancock also struggled against Moorpark, needing late free throws to turn back the Raiders. Since January 1, Allan Hancock’s margin of victory in its four wins have been less than six points. It appears the voters took notice. This week, Allan Hancock takes on Santa Barbara (3-17) and then travels to Cuesta (15-6) who will be either coming off an emotional win or a devasting loss to Ventura.
23. Canada (15-5) — The Colts appear to have tamed themselves, winning its last two games after consecutive losses to open conference play and then the postponement of its game with Foothill, a team they begin the week tied for third place in the Coast-North. Canada begins the week a 1 ½ games behind second-place Las Positas, a team the Colts meet on Wednesday on the road. Canada is 14-3 away from home (where they are just 1-2). Two of those wins came at Las Positas back in November when the Colts participated in the Las Positas tournament.
24. Sequoias (13-7) — At the start of the season, the Giants measured up as a team expected to compete for the Central Valley Conference title. However, Sequoias struggled early, losing two of its first four and then opened conference with consecutive losses. The Giants’ meeting with Fresno on Saturday will be their second. Earlier they fell 73-66 despite 25 points from Keshawn Gibbs. With eight games remaining, the window for derailing Fresno is growing smaller and smaller and it appears the Giants are the last hope for the rest of the Central Valley.
25. Columbia (14-5) – Columbia’s conference championship hopes were dealt a blow when the Claim Jumpers got jumped by Sequoias, 77-68. The loss dropped Columbia 2 ½ games behind Fresno with eight games to play. And more importantly a half-game behind Sequoias in the race for second place. Columbia plays three of its next four games on the road which isn’t good. The Claim Jumpers are 2-4 on the road this season and when you factor in neutral sites, the Claim Jumpers are 4-5 as opposed to 11-0 at home. They will host Cerro Coso and then take on winless West Hills Lemoore on Saturday.
25. Cuesta (15-6) – Cuesta’s 87-71 loss to Moorpark on January 19 continues to loom large over the Cougars. The difference is a share of the division lead. Cuesta, however, is in a position to eliminate that memory by beating conference-leading Ventura on Wednesday and then taking out ranked Allan Hancock at home on Saturday. This week is looking like a make-or-break week. A sweep, and Cuesta is in the driver seat. Two losses, and Cuesta may have cost itself a post season spot. A split will lead to a wait and see scenario. A lot at stake for the Cougars this week.
1. San Francisco City
2. Fresno City
4. San Joaquin Delta
5. Santa Rosa
7. Las Positas
11. Feather River
13. Cosumnes River
1. Mt. San Jacinto
3. East Los Angeles
5. San Bernardino Valley
7. Long Beach City
8. LA Trade Tech
10. Santiago Canyon
14. Allan Hancock