San Francisco, the defending state champions and the state leader in wins with 17, moves into the state’s top ranking in the weeks California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association poll. The Rams edged past previously ranked No. 1 Saddleback after the Gauchos were moved to No. 2 in one coaches poll in favor of red-hot El Camino-Compton Center. Despite the move, Saddleback, last year’s state runner-up, remains the south’s top-ranked team. Below is rundown of the state’s 20 and what awaits them in Week 2 of the new year.
1. San Francisco (17-1) — San Francisco, winners of 10 straight, over takes Saddleback for the state’s top ranking. The Rams opened Coast-North play last week with wins over Chabot )111-61) and Skyline (90-70). However, all eyes will be in San Francisco as the Rams square off against the two teams who threaten their chances at another divisional title — at #10 Canada (Friday, Jan. 13) and vs. #12 Las Positas (Wednesday, Jan. 18). After its Las Positas games, San Francisco plays its next four games on the road.
2. Saddleback (16-2) — Winners of 11 straight, Saddleback slips this week after El Camino-Compton Center wrestled a No. 1 vote from the Gauchos. Saddleback opened Orange Empire Conference play with a four-point win over 7-10 Orange Coast and 10-point win over Irvine Valley. In the Irvine Valley contest, Saddleback managed just 44 points, but held the Lasers to a season-low 34 points. In the first half, the two teams combined for just 30 points (16-14 Irvine Valley at the half). The Gauchos were 6 of 21 (28.6 percent) from the floor in the first half for 14 points, and committed 7 turnovers. This week, Saddleback faces a huge test when #11 Riverside (Friday, Jan. 13) travels to Mission Viejo. Luckily, the Gauchos get all week to work on its shooting woes.
3. Yuba (14-2) — Yuba is off to a 4-0 start in Bay Valley Conference play. Winners of five straight and 14 of its last 15, Yuba has no other ranked teams currently on its schedule. However, this week, the 49’ers face a three-game stretch which includes a road game with second-place Marin (4-1, 9-4; Tuesday, Jan. 10). Marin is 8-2 in its last 10 games, but its toughest loss was to Los Medanos, 84-80, in its second Bay Valley Conference game.
4. San Bernardino (15-5) — San Bernardino, which is 3-3 (two loses coming to non-California teams) in its last six games, opens Pacific Coast-North play this week with a road contest at Palomar (Friday, Jan. 13), who has lost three of its final four preseason contests. Its game with Palomar is the Wolverines’ only game this week. In San Bernardino’s final preseason game, the Wolverines plastered Mt. San Antonio, 81-65, behind 24 points from Brandon Jolley, the Wolverines leading scorer.
5. El Camino-Compton Center (16-3) — El Camino-Compton (ECC) has sky-rocketed up the polls after winning the Chaffey College Challenge, behind tournament MVP Jayvon Brown, who had 9 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds in the finals — an 85-64 blowout of Chaffey. ECC has now won nine straight. Among their victims has been Mt. San Jacinto, Glendale, West Los Angeles, Chaffey (twice), Fullerton and Citrus. During the Tartars’ nine-game win streak only one game (94-84, OT vs. Glendale) has been decided by 10 points or less. ECC entered last week ranked #11. This week, one coach rewarded ECC with its top-ranking, thus knocking Saddleback from the state’s No. 1 spot.
6. Fresno (13-4) – Fresno posted consecutive wins to open Central Valley Conference play, but Saturday’s game with West Hills was a nail bitter as the Rams escaped the road game with a 77-76 victory. Fresno, which led 39-321 at halftime, overcame 18 turnovers. Cole Morgan came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points, along with 7 rebounds. Doesn’t get any easier this week, though. Fresno hosts Columbia (2-0, 7-6) Wednesday, Jan. 11. Columbia, winners of 6 of its last 8 games also started conference play 2-0 and enters the game tied for first place.
7. Santa Rosa (11-5) — Santa Rosa took the early lead in the race for the Big Eight Conference title as Diablo Valley was shocked by San Joaquin Delta (more on it below). The Cubs, who lost its final two non-conference games at home — in its own tournament, scored wins over American River and Cosumnes River. This week, Santa Rosa hosts #20 Diablo Valley (Wednesday, Jan. 10) in a key conference game — especially for Diablo Valley.
8. East Los Angeles (12-4) — East Los Angeles, winners of 6 of its 7 games, is coming off a strong showing at the Cuesta Tournament. The Huskies, who had 3 of its last 6 games headed to San Luis Obispo, swept the competition at Cuesta. Including wins over Allan Hancock (86-58), #16 Mt. San Jacinto (87-85) and host Cuesta (89-84). East LA is one of three teams in the division to start conference play with 10 wins or more. This week, the Huskies will play in a one-day event at Los Angeles Southwest College before opening divisional play next week. East LA will face West Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 14.
9. San Diego City (16-5) — With 16 wins, San Diego City trails only San Francisco (17) in victories, after winning the consolation championship at the Clete Adelman Classic on Jan. 5. The Knights, the favorites for the Pacific Coast-South division title, have won 4 of its last5 games and 11 of their last 13 games. None of the remaining teams on its schedule begin the week with .500 records. In its only game this week, the Knights visit 6-11 Cuyamaca (Friday, Jan. 13).
10. Feather River (13-3) — It has been nearly a month since Feather River has squared off with any other than someone wearing a Feather River jersey. The Golden Eagles, the favorite in the Golden Valley Conference, last played on December 20, a 92-86 victory over American River. Feather River gets back last year’s state scoring leader in Derrick Randolph. His addition makes the Golden Eagles much more than just a threat to win the conference. The Golden Eagles will ease into is conference schedule with just one game this week — it is on the road and against one of two threats to its championship hopes — Lassen (Saturday, Jan 14).
11. Riverside (14-4) — Riverside successfully drew the curtain on its Orange Empire Conference season with a 72-55 romp of Orange Coast. This week, head coach Phil Mathews will need to keep the Tigers from looking ahead to Friday and a showdown with #2 Saddleback. The Tigers, who have won three straight, last lost — December 9 to — Saddleback (84-77) in the finals of the Riverside Holiday Tournament. In that game, Riverside blew a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining. However, before Riverside gets to Saddleback, the Tigers need to handle 5-13 Santa Ana on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
12. West Hills (9-5) — West Hills had its four-game win streak snapped last week and with it the first nail in the Falcons’ conference title hopes (see Fresno above). Right now, the focus becomes on securing the conference’s No. 2 slot. And it begins this week with road games at 5-9 Reedley (Wed. Jan. 11) and 9-6 Merced (Saturday, Jan. 14). West Hills is one of four teams who enter the week with 1-1 conference records, so these games are as important as last week’s showdown with Fresno.
13. Fullerton (13-5) — Fullerton recovered from its 21-point blowout loss to El Camino-Compton Center by beating Cypress and Santa Ana in the opening week of conference play. At 2-0 in conference, Fullerton begins the week tied with Saddleback for the conference lead. This week, the Hornets will visit 10-7 Irvine Valley (Wednesday, Jan. 11). With just one game this week, the Hornets will have a week to prepare for its showdown with Riverside in Riverside. Depending on how Friday’s Riverside-Saddleback showdown plays out, the Fullerton-Riverside game could be for sole possession of first place in OEC.
14. Canada (13-4) — Canada begins the week riding a six-game win streak, but more than its win streak will be on the line this week when Canada visits #18 Las Positas (Wednesday, Jan. 11) and the hosts #1 San Francisco (Friday, Jan. 13). This week, Canada’s championships hopes could take a hit. In its only game last week, Canada posted a 90-79 win over Ohlone, in both team’s conference openers. It was the Colts’ first action since December 21 when Canada handed San Jose an 86-60 loss.
15. Ohlone (13-5) — Ohlone is one of four teams from the Coast-North in this week’s rankings. The Renegades are in the Top 20 party thanks to its shocking upset of Las Positas, who were projected out to be fierce competition to San Francisco for the conference title. Ohlone built a surprising 11-point halftime lead in the win over Las Positas and held it down the stretch for the upset as Jack McDonald scored 19 points off the bench and Cameron Bradley added 17. This week, Ohlone faces two opponents who are regional qualifier contenders in Foothill (Wednesday, Jan 11) and Skyline (Friday, Jan. 13). This conference race (whether for first or second or third) is going to be a &^%$*!
16. Citrus (15-4) — Citrus opens division play on Saturday when the Owls travel to Los Angeles Valley for a 3 pm contest. Citrus took home the consolation trophy at the Chaffey Challenge last week All four of the Owls’ losses have been to ranked teams (San Diego, Fresno, Feather River and El Camino-Compton). Headed into division play, Citrus has won 4 of its last 5 games.
17. San Diego Miramar (14-5) — Miramar has won 8 of its last nine, headed into its showdown with #19 Mt. San Jacinto on Saturday, Jan. 14 in San Jacinto. Again, this is a key game for MSJC and Miramar and their respective championship hopes.
18. Las Positas (15-3) — Las Positas looks to regroup this week when Hawks hosts #14 Canada (Wednesday, Jan. 11). Las Positas took a hit in the polls after falling to Ohlone last week. This week, the Hawks hosts #14 Canada (Wednesday, Jan. 11) and last-place, 3-13 Chabot (Friday, Jan. 13).
19. Mt. San Jacinto (14-8) — Mt. San Jacinto starts division play having lost 5 of its last 9 games. The five recent losses dampen the thoughts as the Eagles’ as a legit division contender. But that can all change when Mt. San Jacinto meets #17 San Diego Miramar on Saturday (Jan. 14). The division figures to be battle between San Bernardino, San Diego Miramar and Mt. San Jacinto — and one these teams will begin week two in better shape than the other.
20. Diablo Valley (13-4) — The favorite in the race for the Big Eight title, Diablo Valley begins week two in a four-way tie for third place. The Vikings were shocked by San Joaquin Delta to open conference play. In Diablo Valley’s defense, the Vikings played without head coach Steve Coccimiglio. This week, Diablo Valley faces a challenge in climbing back into championship contention. The Vikings travel to #7 Santa Rosa on Tuesday (Jan. 10) and then head home to host Sierra, who got off to a 2-0 start in conference play, but remains unranked, on Friday (Jan. 13).
Northern California Regional Poll
1. San Francisco (15)
4. Santa Rosa
6. Feather River
7. West Hills
8. Las Positas
10. Diablo Valley
15. (tie) Cosumnes River/Merced
Others receiving votes: Marin, Sierra, Sequoias, Sacramento City, Columbia
Southern California Regional Poll
1. Saddleback (14)
2. San Bernardino
3. E Camino-Compton Center (1)
4. East Los Angeles
5. San Diego City
9. San Diego Miramar
10. Mt. San Jacinto
13. Antelope Valley
15. (tie) Mt. San Antonio/Glendale/Irvine Valley
Others receiving votes: MiraCosta, West LA, Allan Hancock, Ventura, El Camino