It is a busy week, and not just because of upcoming holiday season. Over the course of the next three weeks teams will begin wrapping up preseason play, including eight final tournaments and a one-day showcase. Two conferences will actually begin conference competition prior to the start of the new year.
One team in particular — San Francisco City College — will enjoy the holiday from the penthouse as the California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association No. 1 ranked team. The Rams edged defending state champion San Diego City for the top spot this week. Below is a recap for the top 20 teams in the state and what they face in the coming week.
Check the CCCMBCA website on January 1 for the annual conference preview. Next poll date is January 2. Polls will continue each week leading up to the announcement of regional seeds.
1. San Francisco City (15-1 record/#2 in Massey (strength of schudule) Ranking) — San Francisco is riding a 11-game win streak as the Rams overtake San Bernardino Valley and San Diego City for the state’s top ranking. San Francisco’s lone loss came on November 17 in the championship game of the Fresno Tournament to #14 Sequoias, 80-63. Since then the Rams have dominated the opposition as only one team has managed to stay within 12 points of San Francisco. The Rams host DeAnza in their final nonconference game on December 30.
2. San Diego City (16-2/#1) — The defending state champs are riding a nine-game win streak into the new year. Since losing to Fullerton (by one point at Fullerton) and Citrus (by two at Citrus), the Knights have been perfect, although, not to the level of San Francisco. There have been some blowouts and a couple of squeakers (one-point win over Orange Coast and two points over Irvine Valley). The Knights will rest their horses until January 2 when San Diego City competes in the MiraCosta Tournament. Look for the Knights to square off against #12 Cerritos in the finals. With 16 wins, entering the week of Dec. 18, the Knights lead the state in wins.
3. Fresno (8-2/#7) — Fresno went to Visalia and defeated Sequoias on its home court in the finals of the Pepsi/Wyndham Tourney. The Rams beat two ranked teams in Cerritos (80-69) and Sequoias (75-65). Fresno concludes its preseason with a road game at Cabrillo on Dec. before starting what could be a very interesting race for the Central Valley Conference title. By our count, Fresno City has won the last 16 conference titles.
4. San Bernardino Valley (12-2/#5) — It has been a tough week for San Bernardino, losing two of its last three games. And along with it, the state’s No. 1 ranking. The Wolverines scored just 16 first-half points in a 25-point loss to East Los Angeles and then suffered a two-point loss to unranked Mt. San Antonio as Corey Grant sank two free throws with four second left. The road doesn’t get any easier as the Wolverines venture east to play in the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout at Mesa College in Arizona. The Wolverines are the only California community college team to have played in this tournament. All time, San Bernardino is 6-6 in the tournament with one championship (2014) and one fourth-place finish (2016). The Wolverines open the tournament against traditional powerhouse Southern Idaho who are riding a 13-game win streak into a game Tuesday (Dec. 19) with Treasure Valley.
5. Gavilan (12-1/#15) — Gavilan’s lone loss to unranked Porterville overtime in the first round of the Skyline Tournament may have kept the Rams from nudging the Fresno Rams out of the north’s No. 2 ranking. In four tournaments this year, Gavilan won three and took the consolation championship in the other. This week, Gavilan returns from a nine-day layoff to host Chabot and visit Skyline before opening conference play on Jan. 5.
6. Fullerton (10-4/#6) — As a conference, the Orange Empire holds a 79-47 record, a 627-winning percentage. Four of the nine teams have won 10 games or more and six have a winning percentage above .500. Also, three of the nine teams find themselves ranked in the state Top 20 this week, led by Fullerton at No. 6. Ironically, Fullerton’s winning percentage is just the third best among the conference teams, but the Hornets have played the toughest schedule among conference members. The Hornets’ losses this season read like a who’s who of high powered teams — San Diego City (#2 at San Diego), West Hills (#10 at West Hills), East Los Angeles (#9 at Citrus) and San Bernardino (#4 at Riverside). Fullerton will play its final nonconference game at LA Southwest on Dec. 21. After that, the Hornets face a battle night-after-night in what appears is going to be perhaps the toughest conference championship to win this season. And, keep in mind, Fullerton is the conference’s defending champions.
7. Citrus (12-2/#4) – Citrus is another team on a roll, winning nine straight headed into the Compton Tartar Classic, which begins today (Dec. 18). Citrus, who opens against LA Pierce, could be looking at a final against #16 West LA, the only other ranked team in the tournament. The Owls’ lasses this year have come against SD City and Fullerton, ironically, in the semifinals of the SD City and Fullerton tournaments. However, since losing to SD City in the Fullerton Tournament it has been nothing but win after win, including a victory over SD City in the final of the Citrus Tournament.
8. Foothill (10-5/#20) — Unranked two weeks ago, Foothill makes a run to No. 8 in this week’s Poll. The Owls have won six of their last seven games, highlighted by wins over Feather River and Diablo Valley. Foothill lost three of its first six games, but since then the Owls are 7-2 and looking like the team that was ranked No. 12 in the north in the preseason poll. Foothill closes out the nonconference schedule with a road game at Hartnell.
9. East Los Angeles (9-3/#3) — Despite losing to Riverside in the finals of the Riverside Tournament, the Huskies managed to maintain its No. 9 ranking this week. East LA, who has played the state’s third toughest schedule, has two remaining preseason tournaments remaining as well as the Reggie Morris Showcase.
10. Butte (11-3/#14) — Since the last state poll Butte is 4-2 and managed to climb into the top 10. We are not sure if that is because of the Roadrunners’ body of work or the fact that West Hills, Las Positas, Sequoias suffered disappointing losses in the last two weeks resulting in their inability to crack the top 10. At the same time, Butte is one of seven northern teams with 10 wins or more and did reach the finals of the Delta Tournament, losing to #1 San Francisco by 17 points. The Roadrunner host Columbia (Dec. 30) and Simpson JV (Jan. 5) before opening Golden Valley Conference play, which appears to be a two-team race between Butte and Feather River.
11. West Hills (8-2/#18) – Two weeks ago West Hills was ranked No. 8, but a disappointing loss to a struggling Mt. San Jacinto team cost the Falcons this week as they barely held on for the 11th spot. West Hill will play just five games in the month of December, including a road game at El Camino, the state’s top scoring team at 97.7 points per game (and also the state’s worse defensive unit, allowing 115.5 points a contest), on Dec. 30. If nothing else, it will prepare West Hills for two contests against Fresno City in the new year.
12. Cerritos (11-3/#9) — Cerritos climbs two spots in this week poll after taking home the third-place trophy from the Sequoias Tournament. The Falcons, winners of six of their last seven games, had a five-game win streak stopped by Fresno, 80-69. Cerritos has up to five remaining nonconference games, including a home game vs. Rio Hondo on Dec 20, the MiraCosta Tournament and a game with Bakersfield in the Reggie Morris Showcase at LA Southwest.
13. Las Positas (11-4/#27) — After struggling in late November, Las Positas appears to have solved whatever its issue was. After losing three of four, Las Positas went on a six-game winning streak. Had the Hawks not lost to Skyline we would be talking about its eight-game win streak and gotten to write about them a lot sooner. Skyline was able to hold off Las Positas depiste the Hawks’ 40-point second half. In its only remaining game in 2017, Las Positas visits the coast of Monterey on Dec. 30.
14. Sequoias (9-4/#16) — At one time, Sequoias was the north’s top-ranked team and the toast of Visalia. But a horrendous trip to San Francisco (tournament) in early December cut the Giants off at the knees. First, they surrendered 53 second-half point to Contra Costa team that was 2-2 at the time and then dropped a 77-58 contest to Diablo Valley, a team that has been like a yoyo in the poll (FYI-the Vikings’ yoyo is down this week). Sequoias has won three of its last four (at the same time, three of its last six). The reward is a two-spot climb. In it only remaining nonconference game, Sequoias visits Canada.
15. Copper Mountain (12-4/#8) — Copper Mountain took a tumble in this week’s poll, falling eight slots, to No. 15 after suffering consecutive losses for the first time in the program’s history. In the month of December, the Figtin’ Cacti are 3-3 after starting their inaugural season with nine wins in their first 10 games. Before getting to what we think will be the best race for a conference title in the state, Copper Mountain hosts Compton on Dec. 30.
16. West Los Angeles (9-3/#19) — Since the last poll, West LA has played just one game which resulted in a home victory over MiraCosta. Only 11 teams in the south have played less games than West LA. And of those teams – and only three (Bakersfield, Antelope Valley, Miramar) have a winning record. The point is, head coach Anthony Jones back loaded the Wilcats schedule. In the next month, West LA will play in the Compton Classic, host Moorpark, compete in the Chaffey Challenge and take on Compton in the Reggie Morris Showcase. By our count that will be eight games before opening conference play.
17. San Diego Miramar (9-2/#12) — Miramar falls six spots this week, but it is no fault of the Jets. Due to wildfires raging in central California (thoughts to those effected by the fires), the Santa Barbara Tournament was cancelled. Miramar scrambled to find games, with the result being a 19-point, home contest win over Grossmont. The loss of the tournament appears to effected Miramar’s ranking this week. But with two tournaments (Cuyamaca and the MiracCosta) remaining, the Jets will be back flying soon.
18. Yuba (7-3/#13) — The 49’ers appear to be digging their way out of the poll. And we aren’t sure exactly why? The 49’ers are riding a four-game win streak. Sure, the win streak comes on the heels of a two-game losing streak. However, Yuba won the consolation championship at the Modesto Tournament, now the state’s only 16-team tournament. And three days later they edged a good Feather River team. Regardless, Yuba has to turn its attention to the Bay Valley Conference. The 49’ers open conference play on Dec, 20 with a home game with Alameda. Yuba is the odds-on favorite for the conference title, along with Mendocino (#33 in strength of schedule) and Los Medanos (#46). We see Contra Costa as a spoiler and a possible an at-large entry into the regional.
19. Santa Rosa (7-4/#30) — Like the Bay Valley Conference, the nine teams in the Big 8 Conference will open conference this week (yes, I said nine in the Big 8). Santa Rosa will visit Diablo Valley on Dec. 20 and then host Folsom Lake on Dec. 29. Santa Rosa is on a modest three-game win streak, snapping a two-game losing streak. The Cubs won the Santa Rosa Tournament last weekend (Dec. 14-16) and appears headed in the right direction going into conference competition. Four of the nine teams in the conference have a winning record, yet seven of the teams are coming off a lost. Santa Rosa is the conference favorite, unless yoyo Diablo Valley, losers of three of its last five, figures things out. Watch out for Sacramento City. The Panthers are 3-3 in their last six games, but figures to be in the mix if they can keep from losing to a bottom-tier teams and steal a win over the likes of Santa Rosa and/or Diablo Valley.
20. Santiago Canyon (13-3/#11) — Santiago Canyon, a first-year program, edges out conference opponent Riverside for the final spot in this week’s poll. It could be a short stay, however. The Hawks open Orange Empire Conference play at Riverside on Jan. 3. When Santiago Canyon finally makes it to historic Wheelock Gym it will have been 18 days since the Hawks have seen another team’s jersey defending them. That is quite a stretch of practice time.
Northern California Regional Poll
1. San Francisco City
6. West Hills
7. Las Positas
10. Santa Rosa
11. Feather River
12. Los Medanos
14. Sacramento City
Others: Contra Costa, Skyline, Modesto, Columbia, Hartnell, Diablo Valley, Skyline
Southern California Regional Poll
1. San Diego City
2. San Bernardino Valley
5. East Los Angeles
7. Copper Mountain
8. West Los Angeles
9. San Diego Miramar
10. Santiago Canyon
14. Victor Valley
Others: Canyons, Pasadena City, Los Angeles Harbor, Long Beach City, Allan Hancock, Mt. San Antonio, Antelope Valley