1. (1) Lynwood 32-1
Can you say three-peat? With Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, Lori Rayford, Brandi Kimble and Sade Cunningham coming back to form a solid nucleus, coach Ellis Barfield is going to have another powerhouse squad in 2004.
2. (2) Mitty (San Jose) 31-3
Based on comparative scores against Lynwood, you could say that the Monarchs should drop behind Long Beach Poly and Narbonne for the final rankings. But then we'd also probably have to push St. Mary's down, too, since Mitty owns a win over the Rams and that wouldn't make sense. Both Mitty losses other than against Lynwood came when the team wasn't at full strength and even then it was only a four-point loss to national No. 1 Murry Bergtraum of New York.
3. (3) St. Mary's (Stockton) 32-3
Make it three state titles and four state final appearances in four years for this program. Younger talent like sophomore Renee Roberts and freshman Jacki Gemelos will keep the Rams near the top for a long time to come, too.
4. (4) Poly (Long Beach) 29-4
We still weren't able to come up with enough ammo (pardon the war jargon) to flip-flop the Jackrabbits and Narbonne in the final rankings. Both lost twice to Lynwood, but Poly had one or two more quality wins than the Gauchos.
5. (5) Narbonne (Harbor City) 24-7
If Lynwood's Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is the best junior point guard in the nation, then the Gauchos' Camille LeNoir is right behind. Anyone who saw the SoCal Div. I final can attest to that.
6. (6) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 27-5
Despite the loss to St. Mary's in the Div. IV state final, you can't drop the Torreys at all for the final rankings because they have two wins over Div. III state champ Bishop Montgomery.
7. (7) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 27-7
Question to Knight fans who are still giddy about the fourth straight Div. III state championship: Would there have been a four-peat if Mitty had not moved up from Div. III to Div. I in each of the four seasons?
8. (8) San Clemente 28-4
The Tritons fit in real easily in this spot since their playoff loss was in overtime to Narbonne and they have a 53-51 victory over Div. II state champ Troy. In fact, that was the last time Troy lost.
9. (9) Troy (Fullerton) 31-2
Only seven more state championships to go until the Warriors match the same total won by fellow North Orange County school Brea-Olinda. Coach Kevin Kiernan admitted after the win over Vacaville that the high standards set over the years by Brea-Olinda has aided the growth of his program.
10. (10) Piedmont 30-4
Two of the teams the Highlanders lost to -- St. Mary's of Stockton and Ursuline of Santa Rosa -- also were two teams they defeated. Another 30-win season is likely next year unless twins Courtney and Ashley Paris transfer again.
11. (11) El Camino (Oceanside) 27-5
The Wildcats were ranked locally behind San Diego High for most of the season, but in the playoffs they emerged once again as an elite team. They didn't lose until the SoCal Div. I playoffs to San Clemente and it was a game they nearly won.
12. (13) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 23-7
The first team to move up in this week's final rankings is the Monarchs as they, Brea-Olinda and Redondo all go up ahead of previous No. 12 Vacaville.
13. (14) Brea-Olinda (Brea) 25-4
It's almost painful to rank the Ladycats this low, but they lost by 51-43 to Mater Dei in the CIFSS Div. II-A playoffs so they have to go behind the Monarchs. Brea not only had a win over Div. II state champ Troy, but the Ladycats also had a win over Div. III state champ Bishop Montgomery.
14. (15) Redondo (Redondo Beach) 26-6
Since the Seahawks' SoCal Div. II playoff loss was to Troy and Troy went on to win the state title, they get to move up one spot in the final rankings. Coach Marcelo Enriquez said after that game that he thought Troy would win the state title, too.
15. (12) Vacaville 33-3
The Bulldogs showed no inkling they would go on the playoff run they had in their very first Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II game as they won by just 71-64 over Burbank of Sacramento. Watch out next year for sophomore guard Tamar Gruwell.
16. (7) Pinewood (Los Altos Hills) 25-5
The Panthers made it to the NorCal Div. II title game once again after wins over Folsom and Amador Valley, but then lost to Vacaville. One key late-season non-league win was over Ursuline of Santa Rosa.
17. (17) Ursuline (Santa Rosa) 29-4
Liz Montana, daughter of Joe Montana, could be a key contributor for the Bears next season. Let's hope fans from other schools and the media let Joe be as normal a dad as possible when watching his daughter's games. Note: John Elway's daughter, Jessie, is a sophomore who is a promising player at Cherry Creek High of Englewood, Colo.
18. (18) Carondelet (Concord) 28-3
Based on comparative scores in the playoffs involving Vacaville and Amador Valley, you could make a strong argument that the Cougars should be ahead of Pinewood. But we like Ursuline higher since it has a win over Piedmont and Pinewood has to be ahead of Ursuline.
19. (19) Palmdale 25-6
This is one of those rankings based almost entirely on what happened in the playoffs. Not only did Palmdale knock out Long Beach Wilson in the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoffs, but the Falcons then lost by just nine to Lynwood.
20. (nr) Wilson (Long Beach) 24-7
Lynwood's fairly easy win over Mitty in the Div. I state final also meant that the Bruins got the nod over Laguna Creek for the final spot of the final top 20. Wilson also has a win over top 20 Brea-Olinda, while Laguna Creek has no wins over a top 20 team.
(All the way to 50)
21. Laguna Creek (Elk Grove) 30-4
Cardinals lost in the NorCal Div. I final to Mitty after winning impressively on the road in the semis against Berkeley.
22. Madera 26-2
Coyotes are the clear-cut No. 1 team in the Valley between Bakersfield and Stockton.
23. Kennedy (Sacramento) 28-5
Alisha Hicks will be one of the state's top seniors for 2004.
24. Eisenhower (Rialto) 25-5
Jasmine Clarendon and Laura Dinkins led the Eagles to the Citrus Belt League title and then on to the CIFSS Div. I-AA semis where they lost by 10 to Long Beach Poly.
25. Ayala (Chino Hills) 23-7
Leading scorer was a freshman, but the Bulldogs' only lost by two in CIFSS playoffs to Eisenhower.
26. Hart (Newhall) 24-7
Playoff losses to San Clemente and Narbonne were lopsided, but Indians won a strong league title over Valencia and Saugus.
27. Berkeley 26-6
Sophomore guard Danesha Wright may keep the Yellowjackets in the mix for the NorCal Div. I title for at least two more years.
28. Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 24-7
Tough schedule included losses to St. Mary's of Stockton, Madera, Carondelet, Berkeley and Pinewood. The Dons land here because they beat Carondelet the first time the two teams played.
29. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 23-7
The Div. IV state champs from a year ago lost this year in the NCS semis by 11 to Piedmont. They were much closer than that in a loss to La Jolla Country Day and had a 13-point win over Sacred Heart Cathedral.
30. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 26-10
Irish have won two NorCal Div. III titles in the last three years and lost by just 49-43 in this year's state final to Bishop Montgomery.
31. Mission Bay (San Diego) 23-3
There's a good bet this will be a top 20 team next season with Amber Sprague and Amanda Rego as the returning linchpins.
32. Artesia (Lakewood) 24-9
Pioneers played a tough schedule (gave Lynwood a good game in one loss) and shot up the rankings when they knocked off Santa Margarita in the CIFSS Div. III-AA final.
33. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 26-6
Eagles won very strong Serra League over Mater Dei and Rosary and then suffered playoff losses to higher-ranked Bishop Montgomery and Artesia.
34. Bishop Amat (La Puente) 28-6
Lancers were able to hang around the bottom of the top 20 for much of the season due to going overtime in a league game vs. Bishop Montgomery.
35. San Diego 27-4*
Cavers set reported state records with 14 100-point games and an 88.7 per game scoring average.
36. Rosary (Fullerton) 21-8
Three of the losses were to Mater Dei and there were wins over Santa Margarita and Long Beach Wilson.
37. Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 20-9
Cougars lost in the CIFSS Div. I-A playoffs by 13 to San Clemente. Earlier, they won top honors from the same league as Div. II-ranked J.W. North and had a quality playoff win over 26-1 Cajon.
38. J.W. North (Riverside) 24-5
Huskies fell in the CIFSS Div. II-AA playoffs to Troy (the eventual state champ) and impressed in 61-46 playoff win over Buena of Ventura.
39. North (Bakersfield) 30-3
Ana Onaindia and Laura Thomas both made more than 100 three-pointers, which could be a first in state history.
40. Notre Dame (Salinas) 28-3
Serena Benavente will be leaving, but the Spirits should still be potent with sophomore Jessica Ross coming back.
41. Healdsburg 27-3
Greyhounds lost by just 54-51 in the NCS Div. IV semis to Ursuline.
42. Technical (Oakland) 25-4*
Bulldogs won their second straight OAL crown and have a better chance than the boys of making it a three-peat due to cast of returning players.
43. Mark Keppel (Alhambra) 26-4
A timely win over Brea-Olinda had the Aztecs highly-ranked all season. They lost by three in a playoff upset to Corona Centennial, but standout forward Monique Diaz couldn't do much with an ankle injury.
44. Sylmar 22-7
Spartans crushed Carson in the L.A. City Section semis and then nearly pulled off one of the all-time great upsets in the final vs. Narbonne.
45. Presentation (San Jose) 26-9
Our vote for the best league in the north was the WCAL with Presentation, Mitty, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Prep, etc. We can't say best in the state because the Serra League in the south was equally good.
46. Perris 25-6
That sure was an ugly loss in the CIFSS Div. II-AA final to Troy, but getting there involved a win over Corona Centennial and Troy did go on to win a state championship.
47. St. Mary's (Berkeley) 20-9
Sophomore Shantell Sneed is a major talent for this team, which had a win over Piedmont and lost by just 54-51 in NCS Div. IV playoffs to Healdsburg.
48. Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 22-8
We liked the fact the Cougars lost by just four to Hart in the CIFSS Div. I-A playoffs, that they posted a quality playoff win over Royal and that they come from the same league as San Clemente.
49. Kearny (San Diego) 21-6
Komets were almost as high-scoring a unit as their rivals from San Diego High.
50. Chaminade (West Hills) 25-4
Christina Zdenek had a strong season for the Eagles, who lost by just six to Bishop Amat in the CIFSS Div. III-A semifinals.