1. (1) Lynwood 31-1
After breezing to a win over Sylmar in their SoCal Div. I opener, the Knights had to scratch and claw their way past Long Beach Poly and Narbonne to earn a spot in this week's Div. I state final. They would've lost to Narbonne, too, were it not for the offensive rebounding and inspired play from 5-11 junior center Lori Rayford.
2. (2) Mitty (San Jose) 31-2
The Monarchs didn't exactly roll past Sacramento Kennedy in the NorCal Div. I semis, so that made the 76-55 victory over Laguna Creek in the final a little surprising. Mary-Eileen Gallagher had 17 and 18 points in those games (including 14 free throws vs. Laguna Creek) while Jenna Green had a triple-double vs. Kennedy (12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks).
3. (3) St. Mary's (Stockton) 31-3
The talk all year has been about Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, Candice Wiggins and Noelle Quinn for Ms. Basketball in the state, but coming on fast is the Rams' Dominique Banks. She had 39 in last week's NorCal Div. IV semis vs. Ursuline and poured in 33 more vs. Piedmont. The win over Piedmont also avenged one of St. Mary's three losses.
4. (5) Poly (Long Beach) 29-4
It's a tough call between the Jackrabbits and Narbonne. We're giving a slight edge to Poly since it had a much tougher league schedule. Poly also posted an impressive road win last week over Madera before losing by just 51-44 to Lynwood.
5. (4) Narbonne (Harbor City) 24-7
Poor free throw shooting early in the fourth quarter caused the Gauchos to slowly fall behind Lynwood in the SoCal Div. I final. They eventually lost, but only by 54-46. Narbonne's semifinal win over San Clemente in overtime and an easy win over Hart of Newhall pretty much assured another top five final ranking.
6. (6) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 27-4
Other than Lynwood-Mitty, the best showdown among ranked teams in this weekend's state finals is the Torreys against St. Mary's. Both are state champs from last year in different divisions, LJCD in Div. V and St. Mary's in Div. II. Since LJCD has split in two close games vs. Long Beach Poly, a win over St. Mary's could moved up the Torreys as far as No. 3 in the final rankings.
7. (8) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 26-7
Most of the seven losses for the Knights this year came when All-American Noelle Quinn was still rounding into basketball form after helping the Knights to the Div. III state title in volleyball. Their 60-41 win over Mission Bay in the SoCal Div. III final makes the Knights a heavy favorite to beat Sacred Heart Cathedral in the state title game.
8. (9) San Clemente 28-4
If there was any doubts about Lindsey Pluimer being a great player, 21 points vs. El Camino in a road win and 27 vs. Narbonne in an overtime loss should erase them. San Clemente fans should be rooting for Troy to win the Div. II state title not just because the Warriors also are from Orange County, but because the Tritons beat Troy, 53-51, not that long ago.
9. (12) Troy (Fullerton) 30-2
Coach Kevin Kiernan's team looked so good in beating Redondo and Mater Dei last week that L.A. Times writer Martin Henderson told us he thinks the Warriors would even be able to give Lynwood a run for its money right now.
10. (10) Piedmont 30-4
It's hard to drop the Highlanders for losing to St. Mary's in a game played in Stockton. They defeated the Rams earlier in the season and also got a win over Ursuline after losing to the Bears earlier. Another key win was over Redondo.
11. (15) El Camino (Oceanside) 27-5
The Wildcats repeated as Div. I champs in the San Diego Section and almost knocked off San Clemente again in the first round of the SoCal Div. I playoffs. We also have to say how humbled we were to receive a thank you note for our coverage via e-mail from the father of Wildcat center Nikki Oakland. He's a Marine and he sent the e-mail from Kuwait.
12. (nr) Vacaville 33-2
It looks like the Bulldogs could move into the top 10 with a win in Friday's Div. II state final against Troy. Winning on the road last week against Carondelet in the NorCal semis -- and coming from behind to do it -- gave Vacaville all the momentum it needed to come out on Saturday and knock off previous No. 7 Pinewood in the final.
13. (17) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 23-7
The Monarchs kept up their come-from-behind ways in the SoCal Div. II semis as they rallied from 16 down in the first half to beat North of Bakersfield. They fell behind again in the final vs. Troy, but this time the magic ran out. Mater Dei's two earlier CIFSS playoff wins over Brea-Olinda and Redondo plus the championship of the Brea tourney in December just about assures a final top 15 ranking.
14. (19) Brea-Olinda (Brea) 25-4
This is a tough bunch to rank because it has wins over the likes of La Jolla Country Day, Pinewood, Mater Dei and San Clemente. There's also losses to Keppel and Long Beach Wilson. Another loss was to Mater Dei in the playoffs and the other was to nationally-ranked ThunderRidge of Colorado.
15. (18) Redondo (Redondo Beach) 26-6
After making it to the Div. II state final a year ago, the Seahawks had to settle for a SoCal semifinal appearance against Troy. The 58-46 loss came after Redondo won its first game of the regional playoffs, 60-29, over Mt. Miguel of Spring Valley.
16. (7) Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 25-5
Coach Doc Scheppler reports that the Panthers ended the year with 338 three-pointers. That's a new state record. Scheppler just wishes his team did better than shoot 4-for-17 on three-pointers in the first half of its loss to Vacaville.
17. (11) Ursuline (Santa Rosa) 29-4
A big drop had to happen for the Bears since they lost by a rather large margin to St. Mary's of Stockton. Plus, they recently lost in a nonleague game to Pinewood, so the fall had to be behind the Panthers.
18. (16) Carondelet (Concord) 28-3
A Vacaville win over Troy in the Div. II state final would be a big help to the Cougars' final ranking since they were one-point losers to the Bulldogs in last week's NorCal Div. II semis.
19. (nr) Palmdale 25-6
We like the Falcons for this spot because they lost by just 43-34 in the CIF Southern Section Div. I-AA semis to Lynwood and because they defeated Long Beach Wilson, 57-54, in the quarterfinals.
20. (nr) Laguna Creek (Elk Grove) 30-4
A top 20 ranking for the Cardinals is not yet a sure thing. They could drop next week in favor of Long Beach Wilson depending on what happens to Mitty in the Div. I state final vs. Lynwood. You have to like the way coach Glenn Mayol's squad stormed over to Berkeley in last week's NorCal Div. I semi and blew past the previous No. 14 Yellowjackets, 64-40.