Artesia's rebuilding process under coach Scott Perra reaches another step as Pioneers are now back among state top 20. Mater Dei still No. 1, while Fairfax and Westchester flip-flop the No. 2 and No. 3 spots due to the Lions winning first matchup between them.

(After games of Jan. 18; previous rank in parentheses)

1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 19-2

Despite only going 14-of-33 from the free throw line, the Monarchs pulled away from Diamond Bar in the second half and won, 80-63, in a game played last Saturday. Fairfax's win over Westchester also strengthens Mater Dei's hold on the top spot.

2. (3) Fairfax (Los Angeles) 16-1

Josh Shipp kept the Lions in good shape with 28 points in a 97-42 victory over Hamilton and 24 points in a 67-57 triumph over University. Fairfax moved up solidly into the No. 2 position with a 58-55 win over Westchester in what could be the first of four showdowns against the Comets this season.

3. (2) Westchester (Los Angeles) 17-2

The Comets didn't stay down for long after their loss to Fairfax as Trevor Ariza rose up for 16 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 84-50 romp past Venice. He also had 16 in a 71-44 victory over Palisades.

4. (4) Horizon (San Diego) 16-1

Alan Wiggins connected for 22 points as the Panthers downed his celebrated sister's school, La Jolla Country Day, by 56-38. Horizon also had an easy one of 104-30 over Calvin Christian of Escondido with Jared Dudley scoring 26.

5. (5) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 18-1

Bryson (Don't Call Me Byron) Scott had 11 points to back up Fred Washington's 16 and Ryan Howard's 15 as the Knights kept up their hot start with a 64-47 triumph over Serra of Gardena. Washington also almost had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and nine assists.

6. (6) El Camino (Oceanside) 18-3

Big-time center Mohamed Akubar of Rancho Bernardo had very little help in his team's game last week with the Wildcats as El Camino won, 71-52. Coach Ray Johnson's club also won last week, 75-55, vs. Poway. Mikel Watson had 30 points vs. RB and tossed in 23 vs. the Titans.

7. (7) Lincoln (San Diego) 18-1

It was no problem for the Hornets against St. Augustine as they cruised to a 91-50 win. Both Shaun Davis and Dominic McGuire are averaging around 20 ppg this season, with Davis slightly above at 21.7 and McGuire slightly below at 19.8.

8. (8) Technical (Oakland) 11-4

Coach Hodari McGavock's bunch is starting to ratchet up its level of play, based on its first two Oakland Athletic League games. The league opener saw the Bulldogs down Skyline, 71-55, as Leon Powe had 27 points and 13 rebounds. The All-American was even better with 32 points and 15 rebounds in his next game as Tech topped Fremont, 77-60. Fremont, remember, was good enough earlier this season to hand a rare home loss to Concord De La Salle.

9. (9) Loyola (Los Angeles) 14-3

After surviving a wild 93-92 shootout win over Chaminade of West Hills, the Cubs took care of business early and cruised to a 78-31 victory vs. St. Francis of La Canada. Omar Wilkes was not the leading scorer in either of the two games, but the standout senior drained a 25-foot shot at the buzzer to give Loyola the win vs. Chaminade.

10. (10) Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 13-1

The Dragons have begun 4-0 in Hayward Area Athletic League play, but going unbeaten is not a guarantee. They only won by three the week before vs. San Leandro and San Leandro just won in overtime to knock Mt. Eden from the ranks of the unbeaten. Both of those opponents could cause problems for O'Dowd and perennial power Hayward can always sneak up on you, too.

11. (11) Brea-Olinda (Brea) 17-0

The Wildcats have their big league game coming up against Villa Park (a team most had very high in the preseason, including us) and they'll have to play much better than they did in last week's 52-49 win over El Dorado of Placentia. Evan Moore scored 20 in that game and came back to get 28 against El Modena of Orange in a 77-50 victory.

12. (12) Carson 13-3

The most significant news surrounding the Colts came off the court as Marcus Malone suddenly quit the team and moved with his family to Compton. Malone will reportedly attend Dominguez, which is once again being coached by Russell Otis. Carson was struck by the transfer bug last summer, too, when incoming sophomore Ray Reese decided to go to Westchester (where he was later declared ineligible). On the court, Carson held its third straight opponent to less than 40 points with a 63-38 triumph last Saturday over Washington of Los Angeles. Ekene Ibekwe had 20 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks.

13. (13) Fontana 17-1

Eisenhower of Rialto may only be 11-6 at the start of this week, but the Eagles have played a tougher schedule than Fontana has so far, which makes this week's Citrus Belt League matchup between the two very compelling. If Fontana wins big, for example, a lot of people will be convinced that the Steelers are one of the elite teams in Southern California this year. If Ike wins, Fontana could plummet all the way out of the state rankings even with just two losses.

14. (14) Garces (Bakersfield) 21-1

Robert Swift dropped in 19 points, Kyle Shiloh scored 14 and Zack Ryan had 13 as the Rams won their only game of the week, 78-48, over Taft. Their score from Monday's game vs. Clovis West will be included in next week's rankings.

15. (16) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 13-5

This continues to be one of those teams we like for close losses (especially that one by two OTs to Horizon) instead of any particular win. In last week's only reported game, Bryce Taylor sliced up the defense for 29 points as the Wolverines downed Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, 71-54.

16. (17) Sacramento 18-1

Although the Dragons have now won 15 straight, we'll get a better read on them this week as they'll take on Modesto Christian, the Div. I champion last year in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. In a 72-52 win last week Sheldon, Gene Strong pumped in 31 points.

17. (18) Vallejo 15-3

DeMarcus Nelson received LeBron James-like admiration from fans in Napa last week after he and his teammates ventured north to wine country and dominated Vintage, 101-47. The super junior finished with 39 points and 11 rebounds.

18. (19) San Gorgonio (San Bernardino) 16-2

Kevin Houston played like a rocket with 20 points and 12 assists in a 93-57 romp past Arroyo Valley plus 24 points and eight assists in a 93-66 win over San Bernardino.

19. (20) Foothill (Sacramento) 16-2

Sam Kirby had 22 points for the Mustangs in a 52-36 victory over Highlands of North Highlands. After the win two weeks ago on the road vs. Clovis West, it looks like there's not much that will prevent Foothill from going unbeaten the rest of the regular season.

20. (nr) Artesia (Lakewood) 14-2

Coach Scott Perra's team gets the nod to go in for former No. 16 Oakland, which lost to McClymonds of Oakland. Artesia won last week over Mayfair of Lakewood, 51-45, in a key Suburban League game behind Kejuan Johnson's 25 points and seven rebounds. The Pioneers also are the only team to defeat 19-1 Mission Viejo.

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