1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 29-2
Previously state-ranked San Gorgonio was supposed to be a team that might have been able to give the Monarchs somewhat of a test in the CIF Southern Section Div. II-A playoffs, but the Spartans went out quickly. Coach Gary McKnight's squad moved on with wins of 92-48 vs. Wilson of Hacienda Heights and 89-59 vs. Victor Valley of Victorville. Wesley Washington poured in 33 points against Wilson.
2. (2) Westchester (Los Angeles) 28-3
Coach Ed Azzam earned the 500th win of his career when the Comets cruised by Woodland Hills Taft, 78-52, in the CIF L.A. City Section semifinals. That set up a third meeting of this season against Fairfax in this weekend's title game. Don't be surprised to see a fourth in the upcoming Southern Regional playoffs and that's the only one that really counts because the winner would then be favored to win the Div. I state title.
3. (3) Fairfax (Los Angeles) 26-2
The Lions actually had a tougher time getting by Cleveland of Reseda in the L.A. City quarterfinals, 53-49, than they did beating state-ranked Carson, 62-46, in the semis. Alex Bausley scored 17 to lead Fairfax against the Colts and helped hold Carson's Ekene Ibekwe to just 15. Coach Harvey Kitani's club led by 18 at halftime.
4. (4) Horizon (San Diego) 27-1
Alan Wiggins yanked down 13 rebounds to go with 19 points and Jared Dudley scored 24 points as the Panthers won their first CIF San Diego Section Div. IV playoff game, 88-35, over Bishop's of La Jolla. This team's only loss remains to No. 2 Westchester.
5. (6) El Camino (Oceanside) 28-2
The Wildcats finally get to move up -- and closer to Fairfax, a team they beat -- thanks to previous No. 5 Bishop Montgomery's upset loss to Banning in the CIFSS Div. III playoffs. El Camino advanced to the San Diego Section Div. I semis with a 100-83 romp past La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad. Mikel Watson buried six from three-point land and finished with 35 points.
6. (7) Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 25-1
Head coach Mike Phelps was present to watch the Dragons wrap up their regular season with a 51-45 triumph over San Lorenzo. Phelps, on administrative leave pending charges from an alleged molestation case in the 1960s, was given an autographed ball by members of San Lorenzo's team. O'Dowd is the top seeded team in this week's CIF North Coast Section Div. I playoffs. Why the NCS crams its entire playoffs into a single week remains one of the most perplexing questions every time March Madness rolls around.
7. (10) Technical (Oakland) 19-5
The Bulldogs have to lose twice in this week's Oakland Section playoffs to be denied the title. The defending NorCal Div. I champs won in their only game last week, 65-55, over Oakland even though McDonald's All-American Leon Powe (he'll be the only Californian in this year's game) scored only 14 points. Tech is still the pick among many in the north for a return trip to the state finals even though O'Dowd certainly deserves to be ranked higher right now.
8. (9) Garces (Bakersfield) 31-1
There was thought of keeping Carson ahead of Garces in the rankings, but the Rams can still conceivably win a very tough Div. IV state title and if they do that would merit a ranking ahead of Carson anyway. Garces moved on in the Central Section Div. IV playoffs by crushing Orosi, 110-54. Robert Swift led the way with 30 points and Zach Ryan pumped in 21.
9. (11) Loyola (Los Angeles) 24-4
The Cubs strengthened their status as the favorite in the CIFSS Div. I-A playoffs with wins of 77-58 over Lancaster and 85-69 over Chaparral of Temecula. Super soph Dwain Williams of Chaparral went up against Loyola senior Omar Wilkes in the backcourt and Wilkes finished with 23 points. Chris Rucker added 22 points and 12 rebounds.
10. (12) Lincoln (San Diego) 28-2
With Dominic McGuire only scoring four points, the Hornets still blew by Palo Verde of Blythe, 91-71, in the San Diego Section Div. IV playoffs. Shaun Davis picked up the slack and posted 34 points. A Lincoln-Horizon final this weekend would be a doozy.
11. (8) Carson 23-4
If the Colts had done better against Fairfax, instead of getting beaten by 16, they might have been able to stay in the top 10. They could still go back up, depending on how Fairfax and Garces do the rest of the season. Carson won its quarterfinal game, 70-63, over Fremont of L.A. as Ekene Ibekwe scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds.
12. (20) Eisenhower (Rialto) 22-7
It's a ranking spike for Ike as the Eagles have looked every bit the part so far as the No. 1 seed in the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoffs. In a 78-62 victory over Santa Monica in last week's quarterfinals, Sean Marshall slammed SaMo with 28 points while Brandon Kennedy had 19 points and 15 rebounds. If you noticed how the Eagles took apart Fontana in that last league matchup, this postseason showing hasn't been a surprise.
13. (14) Sacramento 29-1
Florin was a team thought by some that might have been capable of upsetting the Dragons in the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Div. II playoffs, but David Young and his friends had other ideas. Young threw down 33 points and had 15 rebounds in a 87-72 win that advanced Sacramento into this week's semifinals.
14. (16) Artesia (Lakewood) 27-2
It's a two-spot jump for the Pioneers, thanks to losses by Bishop Montgomery and San Gorgonio. There were some anxious moments in the first game of last week as Jabri Taylor needed to make two free throws with 15 seconds left to cement a 53-49 nailbiter over Newbury Park. Then in a 74-60 victory over Atascadero, Kaelen Daniels did it all with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
15. (17) Foothill (Sacramento) 28-2
Coach Drew Hibbs' club is showing no signs of a let down and is on track to earn the top seed in Div. III in the CIF Northern Regional playoffs. Last week's wins were 87-26 vs. Sonora and 73-37 vs. Union Mine of El Dorado.
16. (18) Silverado (Victorville) 28-1
Brandon Price and Jamie Lester both popped in 18 points as the Silver Hawks surged past Ontario, 78-64, in the CIFSS Div. I-AA playoffs. Earlier in the week, Silverado edged Millikan of Long Beach, 57-54.
17. (19) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 25-6
In a matchup of two of the top-ranked Div. III teams in the state, the Warriors impressed in a 73-51 triumph over Ocean View of Huntington Beach. Bryce Taylor topped all scorers with 29 points, which came after a 26-point night vs. Northwood of Irvine.
18. (nr) Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 25-4
We liked the Cougars in the preseason and they've now won their way into the CIFSS Div. I-A semis. Tron Smith is one of the top point guards in the state and Richard Cobbs can hurt opponents in a number of ways. Last week's wins were by 64-46 vs. Saugus and 66-64 vs. Mission Viejo.
19. (nr) De La Salle (Concord) 21-5
The Spartans have closed the regular season strongly and should be a major threat to Bishop O'Dowd in the NCS Div. I playoffs. When you realize one of the losses was in overtime to Oakland Tech, another was by just 47-44 to Fairfax and there's Frank Allocco coaching, this is not only a rankable team but one that's a darkhorse to go all the way to Sacramento.
20. (nr) Piedmont Hills (San Jose) 27-0
With small school St. Margaret's of San Juan Capistrano losing in the Southern Section Div. IV-A playoffs last week, there is only one unbeaten team left in the state heading into this week and it's the Pirates. The job head coach Brad Quinet has done with a team of no superstars deserves high praise indeed.