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  • Devin Ugland

No. 1 and No. 2 clear as day in updated HoopsByUgland SoCal Top 20

How difficult was it to decide the top two teams high school basketball teams in Southern California to date? Not very. Chino Hills is a clear No. 1 and Torrance Bishop Montgomery a clear No. 2. The real question is: How close is the gap between the Huskies and the Knights? Only time will be able to reveal the answer to that question, seeing that Chino and Bishop will face-off at the Fairfax State Preview in late January, but there is plenty of basketball to be played from now until the 30th of this month. For the sake of entertainment, I believe that Chino Hills would open as a 10-point favorite over Bishop Montgomery if Vegas was ever able to (God forbid) get its hand into high school basketball odds and betting. Anyways, here’s the updated Southern California Top 20 plus five: 1. Chino Hills (13-0 / No. 1) Observation: A clear and easy choice as Southern California’s top team. The Huskies won the BattleZONE, City of Palms and MaxPreps Holiday Classic tournament championships. Next up: A rematch with Foothills Christian Saturday at the Sierra Canyon Super Showcase 2. Torrance Bishop Montgomery (14-0 / No. 2) Observation: There aren’t many underclass foursomes as talented as Ethan Thompson, Jordan Schakel and David Singleton and Gianni Hunt. A match-up with Chino Hills at the Fairfax State Preview on Jan. 30 looms large. Next up: A nonleague home game Wednesday against Harbor City Narbonne 3. Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (9-1 / No. 4) Observation: Junior power forward Ira Lee has checked out after news broke that highly-touted sophomore Marvin Bagley III made his way to Chatsworth via Arizona. Reports have Lee headed to Justin-Siena in Napa which is the high school affiliated with Prolific Prep and Sierra Canyon is left waiting for a CIF ruling on Bagley’s eligibility for this season. Next up: The Trailblazers open up Gold Coast League play at home Thursday against Los Angeles Windward 4. Los Angeles Fairfax (12-1 / No. 8) Observation: Loyola Marymount-bound senior Donald Gipson is back healthy which helped the Lions to a good showing in Hawaii at the Iolani Classic and to a tournament championship at the Under Armour Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines with a 68-53 win over Corona Centennial. Next up: The Lions will take part in the Huntington Park tournament at Roybal which begins Monday. 5. Santa Ana Mater Dei (13-2 / No. 3) Observation: After winning the North OC Championship tournament over Ayala in overtime, the Monarchs went 2-2 at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach (SC). Next up: Mater Dei will open Trinity League play Tuesday at Orange Lutheran 6. Redondo Union (11-3 / No. 7) Observation: The Sea Hawks advanced to the championship game of the MaxPreps Holiday Classic Open Division bracket where they lost to No. 1 Chino Hills. Redondo bounced-back and picked up a solid nonleague win over Santa Margarita Saturday in the Jordan Brand Take Flight Challenge. Next up: The Sea Hawks take on Riverside J.W. North Saturday at the Westchester Challenge 7. Corona Centennial (10-4 / No. 6) Observation: The Huskies have been without UCLA-bound senior Ike Anigbogu for their last five games. Junior forward Jalen Hill and Long Beach State-signee Jordan Griffin have helped Centennial go to 3-2 Anigbogu’s absence, both of those losses coming against top-five teams in Fairfax and Bishop Montgomery. Next up: Centennial will face Westchester Saturday at the Westchester Challenge 8. Foothills Christian (8-2 / No. 5) Observation: The Knights only losses of the season have come to No. 1 Chino Hills in the BattleZONE tournament and to No. 7 Corona Centennial in the Under Armour Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines. Next up: The Knights open up Coastal League play Wednesday against Horizon Christian Academy. The game will be played at Cuyamaca College 9. Encino Crespi (14-1 / No. 10) Observation: The Celts, behind USC-signee De’Anthony Melton and stud sophomore Brandon Williams, have run-off 14 straight wins since suffering a season-opening loss to Peninsula at the 64th annual Pac Shores Tournament at Redondo Union. Next up: The Celts host St. Francis Monday in a Mission League opener 10. La Verne Damien (15-1 / No. 13) Observation: Coach Mike LeDuc has the Spartans clicking in his first season back as head-man at Damien. Colorado-bound shooting guard Bryce Peters led the Spartans to a championship in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic Ford Dealers Division. Next up: The Spartans have a full week to prepare for its Baseline League opener against Rancho Cucamonga on Jan. 12 11. San Diego St. Augustine (10-2 / No. 11) Observation: The Saints deploy a well-balanced attack behind point guard and Yale-signee Eric Monroe. Martin Tombe, Otto Taylor and big-time sophomore Taeshon Cherry round out the solid St. Augustine crew. Next up: The Saints host Bellflower St. John Bosco for a nonleague game 12. Santa Margarita (9-5 / No. 12) Observation: The Eagles have losses to three of Southern California’s best teams in No. 2 Bishop Montgomery, No. 6 Redondo Union and No. 11 St. Augustine. Santa Margarita’s other two defeats came at the hands of one of Milwaukee’s best teams in Rufus King and to a strong Northern California opponent in Folsom. Next up: The Eagles begin Trinity League play Friday at home against San Juan Capistrano JSerra 13. Chino Hills Ayala (12-2 / NR) Observation: The Bulldogs have perhaps two of the more underrated seniors in the area in Cal State Fullerton-bound wing Austen Awosika and forward John Edgar. Ayala took No. 5 Mater Dei to overtime in the championship game of the North OC Championships, but lost by a 72-68 decision. Next up: The Bulldogs host West Covina Tuesday in a nonleague game 14. Los Alamitos (12-3 / NR) Observation: Is it too early to crown UC Irvine-signee Eyassu Worku as the best player in Orange County? Probably not. The silky smooth point guard has the early beat on OC Player of the Year honors after scoring a school record 51 points in an 87-80 win over Gilbert (AZ) Highland in the Under Armour Holiday Classic quarterfinals. The Griffins lopsided loss to Eastvale Roosevelt in the Torrey Pines American Division championship was (partially) a result of seven players, Worku included, being held out for disciplinary reasons. Next up: The Griffins begin Sunset League play Friday at home against Edison 15. Orange Lutheran (12-2 / No. 16) Observation: After a disappointing loss to No. 14 Los Alamitos in the North/South OC Challenge, the Lancers went on to win the Visit Mesa Basketball Challenge, 70-63, over Phoenix Desert Visa. Senior forward Zac Jervis dominated in the championship game to the tune of 34 points and 16 rebounds. Next up: The Lancers open Trinity League play Tuesday at home against Mater Dei 16. Santa Monica (11-2 / NR) Observation: Who would’ve thought that after losing sophomore point guard Spencer Freedman to Mater Dei via transfer and 6-foot-11 center Jayce Johnson, who enrolled early at Utah, that the Vikings would be one of the better teams in the region? USC-bound shooting guard Jonah Mathews, one of the premier perimeter scorers in the state, has put SaMo on his back when needed, but has some help from 6-foot-5 sophomore wing Rip Economou and 6-foot-6 junior forward Daniel Schreier. Next up: The Vikings host Palisades in a nonleague game Wednesday 17. Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart (9-4 / No. 20) Observation: Cantwell has been all over the map in the rankings, and the rise from No. 20 to No. 17 is based on the Cardinals 10-point win over Alemany Saturday at the Jordan Brand Take Flight Challenge. Eastern Washington-signee Jacob Davison had 19 points and nine rebounds in the win. Senior forward Luka Radovic added 14 points and he remains one of the more intriguing unsigned seniors in the area. Next up: The Cardinals have a nonleague home game Tuesday against Renaissance Academy 18. Eastvale Roosevelt (9-5 / NR) Observation: The Mustangs are another group who have dropped in and out of the rankings, but an impressive 62-57 win over Compton Saturday at Redondo earned them the right to the No. 18 spot in the updated top 20. Jemarl Baker, who committed to California on Thursday, nailed seven 3-pointers and scored 30 points in the win. Next up: The Mustangs have an extended break before opening Big VIII League play on the road at Norco 19. Mission Hills Alemany (9-4 / NR) Observation: The Warriors are one of many teams who have gone the route of a guard-oriented attack. Alemany starts five guys whom are virtually interchangeable as far as position goes. Shacquille Dawkins, D.J. McDonald, Brandon Davis and Ernie Sears III are all capable of playing on or off the ball. Next up: Alemany begins its mission League slate at home against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Wednesday 20. Long Beach Poly (7-6 / No. 9) Observation: It’s difficult (and possibly unfair) to take the Jackrabbits recent struggles into account seeing that they’ve been battling a horrible case of the injury bug. Senior guard Drew Buggs (knee), junior forward Zafir Williams (ankle) and sophomore point guard Darryl Polk (ankle) have all missed significant time over the last few weeks. Poly is still without junior center Myles Johnson who has been sidelined with a knee injury for the entire season. Next up: The Jackrabbits start Moore League play Wednesday with a home game against Lakewood Next five: 21. Inglewood (11-4); 22. L.A. Westchester (10-5); 23. St. John Bosco (13-1); 24. Harvard-Westlake (12-2); 25. Compton (7-6)


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