RIVERSIDE - Let's talk bottom up this week. The bottom of the CCCMBCA Top 30 Poll this week provided one of the ages with teams separated by just one point from No. 23 to 30, and a record seven programs tying for the final spot in the poll.
Conference races continue to be in play headed into the second to last week of regular-season games.
There are a number of key games this week, especially in the Orange Empire Conference where Santiago Canyon clings to a 1/2 -game lead on Riverside. Four all practical purposes, Southwestern has a hold on the Pacific Coast Conference title. The Jaguars simply need two wins in their final four games to wrap up the title. East Los Angeles, riding a college-record 20 straight wins, needs two wins to wrap the North Conference, while in the South, Cerritos clings to a one-game lead headed into a showdown with Long Beach City which has stumbled and resides in fourth place to begin the week. Ventura can wrap up the Western State-North with a win this week, while the South, currently a three-team race, appears headed to the final game of the season. The Inland Empire Athletic Conference is the lone conference in the south who can declare a champion as Chaffey holds a four-game lead with three games to play.
In the north, Yuba's shocking loss to Alameda kept the Bay Valley Conference title in play, but the 49'ers have maintained its two-game lead over Las Positas with three to play. San Joaquin Delta's huge upset of Santa Rosa on Friday means the Big 8 Conference is still up for grabs with Diablo Valley a game back and SJ Delta and Sacramento looming two games back. Fresno City is close to wrapping up a national-record 19th consecutive conference championship. The Rams hold a two-game lead over Sequoias with four games to play. San Francisco can wrap up the Coast-North and the north's top seed this week, while in the Coast-South, West Valley and Cabrillo continue its fight for the division championship. West Valley — to start the week — holds the top spot, a 1/2 -game ahead of Cabrillo. The Golden Valley Conference appears headed to the final game of the season when Shasta travels to Redwoods, if Redwoods wins this week, the Corsairs will ensure themselves a share of the title. If Shasta can hold court this week, the Knights will be looking to share the title.
1. San Francisco (24-0) — Not much to see or report here, San Francisco, winners of 24 straight, can wrap up the South Coast-North title, and the north's top seed, with wins against 16-8 Foothill and 3-19 Canada this week.
2. Santiago Canyon (23-1) — Santiago Canyon has won a school-record 23 games, but the Hawks aren't done soaring just yet. Riverside's loss to Irvine Valley gives Santiago Canyon a ½-game lead for the Orange Empire Conference title. With four games left, the Hawks can see the championship, but they face a huge challenge with Fullerton on Tuesday and then traveling to Riverside on Thursday. Winners of seven straight, Santiago Canyon lost in its first meeting with Fullerton.
3. East Los Angeles (24-1) — East Los Angeles is riding a 20-game win streak and the Huskies are closing in on yet another South Coast-North championship. East Los Angeles has three remaining games and holds a two-game lead on LA Trade Tech for the title. A win on Friday, in its only game this week, and East Los Angeles ensures itself of a share for the title. A win and a LA Trade Tech loss to either Mt. San Antonio or Rio Hondo lets the Huskies out — to celebrate.
4. Fresno City (21-3) — Fresno City is running toward its 19th consecutive conference championship. The Rams edged Sequoias last week, 81-80, in what figured to be Fresno City's last true test in the Central Valley Conference. Fresno City can secure at least a share of the conference title this week with wins against Porterville and West Valley-Lemoore, both on the road.
5. Southwestern (21-4) — For all practical purposes, Southwestern has won its second consecutive conference title and a first for first-year head coach Anthony Cosentino, who took over for his father, John, who retired last year. The championship is the Jaguars' fifth in the last decade. Southwestern has three games remaining and a two-game lead on San Diego City, the preseason favorite. Southwestern can clinch a share of the title at home vs. Cuyamaca on Wednesday and then win it outright on Friday at San Diego Mesa.
6. Fullerton (20-3) — The preseason favorite in the Orange Empire Conference, Fullerton begins the second to last week looking to improve its postseason possession. The Hornets are currently in fourth place, a ½ game behind Saddleback, 1 ½ behind second-place Riverside and two back of Santiago Canyon. With four games remaining, everything is in play mathematically. Considering the Hornets finish — Santiago Canyon, Orange Coast, Riverside, Saddleback — they could, with some help, finish anywhere from first to fourth — and fifth, if they get swept. Said all year, this conference is going to be a good one to the wire.
7. Yuba (21-4) — Yuba missed an opportunity to ensure itself of a share of the Bay Valley championship when the 49'ers were upset by Alameda, 71-65. For Alameda, which is making a late-season run for a possible pot-season bid, has climbed into fourth place in the conference, a game behind Mendocino. Yuba can wrap the title this week with wins over 16-8 Mendocino (Wednesday) and then Friday at 6-18 Napa.
8. Chaffey (20-5) — Chaffey successfully wrapped up the first ever Inland Empire Athletic Conference championship last week when the Panthers survived a Mt. San Jacinto comeback. The 81-78 victory gave Chaffey a four-game lead with three games remaining. The Panthers travel to Barstow on Saturday in their only game this week.
9. Sequoias (19-5) — With its one-point loss to Fresno City last week, Sequoias' conference championship hopes appear to be over. But the race for second isn't. Sequoias begins the week clinging to a one-game lead over Columbia with four games remaining. The Giants, 8-2 in their last 10 games, have road contests at Reedley and then a showdown with Columbia on Saturday.
10. Ventura (18-7) — Not much to see here. Ventura has clinched a share of the Western State-North but can win the title outright on Wednesday when 13-11 and third-place Moorpark comes to town. The Pirates have won nine straight games and are 8-2 at home.
11. Santa Rosa (18-7) — San Joaquin Delta packed the house last week when Santa Rosa came to town and the extra support netted the Mustangs a 60-59 victory over the Cubs. The loss put the Big 8 Conference championship back into play. Santa Rosa begins the week clinging to a half-game lead on Diablo Valley with three games remaining. The Cubs, 8-2 at home, will enjoy homecourt advantage in two of its final three games. This week, Santa Rosa hosts 7-17 Sierra in the Cubs' only game this week. It is believed the title still runs through Santa Rosa.
12. Santa Monica (18-6) — Santa Monica has won three straight games to climb back into the conversation for the Western State-South title. After losses to Los Angeles Valley and West Los Angeles, the Corsairs' title hopes looked shaky. This week will probably determine the Corsairs' championship hopes. Santa Monica, where the Corsairs are just 6-3 at home, will host Citrus on Wednesday and then welcome Los Angeles Valley on Saturday. In their two conference losses, Santa Monica was held under 80 points. Interestingly, in each of their eight conference wins the Corsairs have scored 80 points or more six times, and four times scored 100 points or more. Can the Corsairs push the tempo, and in the process run off with this title?
13. Columbia (21-3) — All eyes will be on the town of Sonoma on Saturday when Columbia hosts Sequoias in a key Central Valley Conference. First, Columbia will host West Hills-Lemoore. Columbia is 13-1 at home this season and that could help the Claim Jumpers' chances against Sequoias in a game that could mean the difference between second or third place. Beginning the week, Columbia's strength of schedule is better than the Giants, but by just two positions.
14. Los Angeles Valley (20-4) — A few weeks ago, we thought Los Angeles Valley was the odd man out in the race for Western State-South after losing two of its first four division games. Boy, were we wrong! The Monarchs have won six consecutive games to remain in the hunt for the title. This week, Los Angeles Valley is in a three-way tie for the conference lead with Santa Monic and Citrus. The Monarchs face two large challenges this week, hosting West Los Angeles, which beat them 89-79 on January 18, and traveling to Santa Monica on Saturday.
15. Cerritos (16-8) — Can the South Coast-South get any crazier!? Cerritos certainly hopes so. When the dust settled on Saturday, Cerritos emerged alone at the top of the pile with a one-game lead on LA Southwest and Compton, which beat Cerritos by 19 points just 10 days ago. LA Southwest, which is 7-3 in its last 10 games and Compton has won three straight games. Meanwhile, Long Beach, 5-5 in its last 10 games, dropped consecutive games for the first time this season fell out of first place and all the way to fourth place. Cerritos has won 11 of its last 12 games, so the Falcons might be playing their best basketball headed into Wednesday's showdown at Long Beach City. Their last meeting resulted in just a two-point Cerritos win. A Long Beach City loss would be disastrous to the Vikings' postseason plans. Can we get a little more crazy — South Coast-South?
16. San Diego City (19-5) — San Diego City has four games remaining and holds a two-game lead on second place in the Pacific Coast Conference over MiraCosta. This week, the Knights visit San Diego Miramar and then host Palomar.
17. Redwoods (19-5) — Redwoods has lost two of its last four games. And in doing so, the Golden Valley Conference championship is still in play. The Corsairs are a game up on Shasta with two games remaining, including a face-to-face meeting on February 19 in the season finale. Until then, Redwoods hosts 8-15 Feather River on Saturday. A win will ensure Redwoods of at least a share of the conference title headed into the showdown with Shasta. Shasta hosts last-place Lassen before trekking to Redwoods next week.
18. Riverside (16-9) — Did Riverside's surprising 10-point loss to Irvine Valley take the air out of the Tigers' chances for the Orange Empire Conference championship? Not at all, the Tigers are just a ½ game behind Santiago Canyon. Riverside will, however, need to be perfect in its final three games. The Tigers face what we believe to be the toughest season-closing schedule in the state we can remember — all with a championship title on the line. Riverside's final three games will take place against all ranked opponents, starting with at Saddleback on Tuesday. In the last meeting, Riverside opened a 13-point halftime lead and held on for a 67-60 victory. That win came at Riverside. This one is at Saddleback, where the Gauchos are 8-1 at home. Survive Saddleback, Riverside gets No. 2 Santiago Canyon at Wheelock Gym where the Tigers are 8-3. Depending how things playout on Tuesday, Santiago Canyon could be coming east to wrap up the conference title. Next week, Riverside has the pleassure of hosting Fullerton in a game that could mean finishing anywhere between first to fourth in the final standings.
19. Citrus (16-8) — With four games left, Citrus continues to hang with Santa Monica and Los Angeles Valley, the two preseason favorites for the Western State-South title. The Owls begin the week in a three-way deadlock for the conference title. Citrus has four games remaining, but only one against the top four teams. This week, Citrus treks to Santa Monica in a key game for their championship hopes and returns home to host 9-13 Canyons.
20. Saddleback (17-8) — With three games remaining, Saddleback — we think — can finish somewhere between second and fourth in the Orange Empire Conference. The Gauchos would need to be perfect, and get some help from other conference members, to overtake Santiago Canyon. Riverside has the best chance of downing the Hawks, so Tuesday vs. Riverside is a huge game for both programs. Obviously, a second place finish in the Orange Empire will have a much better regional seed attached to it. The Gauchos are 8-2 in their last 10 games and won two straight games. Next week, Saddleback closes out the season with Irvine Valley in Mission Viejo and at Fullerton.
21. San Bernardino Valley (17-7) — With the conference title decided, the attention turns to second place. The Wolverines trail Mt. San Jacinto by a ½ game with four games remaining. Look for the race for second to go to the wire when San Bernardino Valley treks to Mt. San Jacinto on February 21 to close out the season.
22. Allan Hancock (19-6) — With three games left and the conference title pretty much out of reach, Allan Hancock will play its final games looking over its shoulder. The Bulldogs hold a one lead on Moorpark in the race for second place and probably the last playoff spot from the division. Allan Hancock hosts 10-14 Cuesta and 1-22 Santa Barbara this week before concluding the regular season at LA Pierce. Two wins this week and a Moorpark loss to Ventura will secure second place for Allan Hancock, which had been the preseason favorites for the division.
23. Diablo Valley (16-8) — Diablo Valley is just a half-game behind front-running Santa Rosa. With four games left, the Vikings could possibly emerge from the week leading the Big 8 Conference. It is doubtful, but the month of February has been unkind to front-running programs. And the worse, the Vikings could be tied with Santa Rosa headed into the final week of the season. Diablo Valley hosts Cosumnes River and then hits the road on Thursday for a road contest with American River.
24. West Valley (15-8) — West Valley has put together a four-game win streak, but it has only gotten the Vikings a ½-game lead over Cabrillo in the fight for the Coast-South title. West Valley concludes the season at Cabrillo, but until then the Vikings set sail for Monterey on Wednesday and then face a hot San Jose team that has won five of its last six games. One of those wins was a 75-56 thumping of West Valley in their first meeting of the season. San Jose also beat Cabrillo last week.
25. Las Positas (17-7) — Las Positas is in a fight for second place in the Coast-North. The Hawks begin the week tied with Foothill, a game up on Chabot and two games on San Mateo. It might be tough to take four teams from this division for the post-season, so positioning is important. Las Positas has four games remaining, including a game Wednesday against Chabot who currently might be the odd-team out for a post-season bid.
26. San Joaquin Delta (15-10) — San Joaquin Delta has won three straight games, and in doing so the Mustangs have resurrected their post-season hopes. SJ Delta begins the week in third place, tied with Sacramento City. The Mustangs have just three games to make an impression on the seeding committee, a third-place finish might be enough. This week, SJ Delta plays at American River on Tuesday and returns home for a game against Folsom Lake on Thursday.
27. Sacramento City (17-8) — With three games left and two games behind Santa Rosa, the Big 8 Conference appears out of reach for the Panthers. But the post-season isn't. Only 18 teams make the post-season in the north, so the next three games can't be taken likely, especially with San Joaquin Delta tied with the Panthers for third place. In its only game this week, Sacramento is at Sierra on Thursday.
28. Foothill (16-8) — Foothill has put together a nice five-game win streak to climb back into contention for a post-season bid. The Owls begin the week tied with Las Positas for second place, three games behind San Francisco. After a trip to San Francisco on Wednesday, Foothill finishes with San Mateo (Friday) and then at Chabot and home to Skyline next week to close out the regular season.
29. Mt. San Jacinto (13-12) — Despite the loss to Chaffey, Mt. San Jacinto remains in second place, a ½ game up on San Bernardino Valley. For the Eagles to remain there, Mt. San Jacinto needs wins at Desert on Wednesday and at Palo Verde next week, before closing out the season at home against San Bernardino Valley.
30. Cabrillo (14-11) — Cabrillo continues to battle West Valley for the Coast-South title. Last week, the Seahawks led the conference, but this week they'll start the week down a ½ game to West Valley after suffering a surprising two-point loss to San Jose. Cabrillo has just three games remaining, including a season finale at home against West Valley. This week, in its only game, Cabrillo travels to DeAnza on Friday.
Los Medanos (18-6) — With four games remaining, Los Medanos has a two-game lead on Mendocino for second place in the Bay Valley Conference. The Mustangs, who were upset by Marin last Friday, hits the road this week for road games at Alameda and Mendocino. Alameda is the hottest team in the conference, having won its last four games.
Shasta (14-12) — Shasta breaks into the top 30 this week. Butte's struggles make Shasta the only team capable of keeping Redwoods from winning the conference title outright. Butte has lost three of five to fall into third place in the Golden Valley Conference. Shasta hosts Lassen and then takes on Redwoods in a game that could half the conference crown.
Irvine Valley (16-8) — With just four games left in the regular season, Irvine Valley is simply trying to stay relevant in the postseason chatter. The Lasers has won three straight games, but it has netted them little in the standings as they remain in fifth place, three games out of fourth place. A strong showing down the stretch would help the Lasers' postseason hopes. This week, Irvine travels to Orange Coast and hosts a dangerous Cypress club that also has hopes of squeezing into the postseason conversation. Should the Lasers survive this week, they can make a statement next week with a win over either Saddleback or Santiago Canyon which would vastly help their postseason hopes.
Los Angeles Southwest (13-10) — Seven wins in its last 10 games has Los Angeles Southwest thinking postseason. The Cougars are roaring at the right time, climbing into a tie with Compton in the South Coast-South. At one point, LA Southwest was 2-6, since then the Cougars are 11-4, winning 4 of its last 5 and 8-11. This resurgence has LA Southwest hoping for a postseason consideration. Twenty-two teams make the post season, currently the Cougars is 25th among south teams in the Massey Ranking. So, a strong finish would be in the Cougars' best interest. This week, LA Southwest hosts LA Harbor in its only game before closing out the season at EL Camino and home to Cerritos.
Long Beach City (16-8) — What a time to play your worse basketball of the season? Consecutive losses have dropped the Vikings into fourth place with just four games to play. Long Beach is two games back of Cerritos and more importantly a game behind LA Southwest and Compton for second place. While conference finish is important, it is calculated along with a team's Massey Ranking which currently has the Vikings 21st (11 spots better than LA Southwest and 31 ahead of Compton). Regardless, second sounds better than fourth. The Vikings have four games and two keys one this week — home to Cerritos and at Compton.
West Los Angeles (17-7) — West Los Angeles titles hopes took a hit with losses in three of its last four games and consecutive losses last week. Two games behind three teams locked in a three-way tie for first place, the Wildcats' championship hopes are hanging by a thread. It might be time to think about just earning that postseason bid. West Los Angeles has the 19th best ranking in the Massey Rankings, 15th best in the south. However, Santa Monica (8th), Los Angeles Valley (10th) and Citrus (11th) all have better rankings. In no way are we saying West Los Angeles is out of the playoffs, but we are saying the Wildcats need to get wild and finish strong. Losing four of your last six isn't going to look good with the selection committee. They need a win over LA Valley (Wednesday) or a win on February 21 at Santa Monica, and they cannot afford a bad loss to sixth-place Bakersfield (15-9) or seventh-place Canyons (9-13). Also, keep in mind, Antelope Valley is just a game behind West Los Angeles.
|CCCMBCA POLL (Feb. 10)|
|1.||City College of San Francisco||24-0|
|3.||East Los Angeles||24-1|
|9.||College of the Sequoias||19-5|
|16.||San Diego City||19-5|
|17.||College of the Redwoods||19-5|
|21.||San Bernardino Valley||17-7|
|26.||San Joaquin Delta||15-10|
|29.||Mt. San Jacinto||13-12|
|Others: Los Medanos, Shasta, Irvine Valley, L.A. Southwest, Long Beach City, West L.A.|
(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)