(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - El Camino-Compton Center becomes the fourth team to hold the No. 1 ranking in the California Community Colleges Men's Basketball Coaches Association poll this year. The Tartars overtook Saddleback, the previous top-ranked team in the state in Southern California after the Gauchos fell to Fullerton. Saddleback's loss was one of several upsets around the state last week, which resulted in a shake-up of the state and regional polls.
CCCMBCA State Poll (Jan. 30)
1. El Camino-Compton Center (21-3) —The Tartars, who are riding a 14-game win streak, the longest in the state this year, last lost on December 7. Since losing to #12 Chaffey, ECC has been a scoring machine, averaging 96.2 points a game, while allowing just 78 a contest, a +18. In its last five games, ECC has scored 116, 90, 110, 97 and 101 points. ECC's 21 wins is the most for the program since the 2006-07 season, when the Tartars finished with a 22-10 record. Jayvon Brown leads the Tartars with a 17.5 points scoring average. Sophomore Alonzo Taylor has posted double-digit points games in each conference contest to date. This week, ECC visits Long Beach City and then faces another battle with Cerritos in Norwalk. Cerritos began January as ECC's biggest threat to the division title, but the Falcons opened division play by losing three straight, resulting in falling out of the Top 20. Friday's game, against ECC, has huge playoff consequences for the Falcons. Should be another battle, like the game on Jan. 18 — a 90-89 ECC win.
2. San Francisco (21-2) — San Francisco continues to battle Yuba for the North's top seed, but the Rams are far from out of the woods in the chase for the Coast-North title. San Francisco opens the week with a one game lead on Las Positas and Canada. This week, the Rams visit Skyline before returning home to take on #15 Canada. Their first meeting in Redwood City, resulted in a 82-79 Ram win.
3. Yuba (21-2) —Winners of 12 straight, the 49'ers continue to dig their way to another Bay Valley Conference title. Yuba begins the week with a 3 1/2 –game lead on Los Medanos with just five games remaining. In their only game this week, the 49'ers visit 7-15 Contra Costa. Jihad Woods continues to pace the 49'ers with a 16.4 ppg average as well as 9.2 rebounds a contest.
4. Saddleback (20-3) — Last week's No. 1 team falls to No. 4 this week after No. 6 Fullerton snapped the Gauchos' 14-game win streak with a 46-45 victory. Saddleback begins the week tied with Fullerton for first place in the Orange Empire Conference with five games remaining, including a season-ending showdown with Fullerton in Mission Viejo on Feb. 16. Three of Saddleback's final five games are on the road. This week, the Gauchos will hit the road to take on Irvine Valley and No. 19 Riverside.
(tie) San Bernardino (20-5) — San Bernardino beat back its biggest opposition to its conference title hopes as the Wolverines escaped San Diego Miramar, 81-78, in OT. Four of the five starters for San Bernardino scored in double figures, led by Brandon Jolley and Jalen Thornton who each had 23 points. The Wolverines' bench, however, contributed just 8 points in the win. This week, San Bernardino hosts Palomar on Wednesday in its only game this week. Their last meeting, resulted in just an eight-point margin of victory for the Wolverines. San Bernardino which is 5-0 at home, plays three of its final five games at home.
6. Fullerton (17-6) — Fullerton climbs one spot this week. Had the Hornets not had a celebratory melt down on Friday, Fullerton was possibly looking at a possible No. 3 ranking this week. But you're only as good as your last game, and unfortunately for Fullerton that wasn't great, losing to Cypress, 67-61, after stunning No. 1 Saddleback, 46-45 on Wednesday. Fullerton's win over Saddleback was its first over the perennial Orange Empire Conference champion since February of 2011. Fullerton head coach Perry Webster was a former assistant to Saddleback coach Andy Ground, and also played for the Gouaches, leading Saddleback to the 2010 state championship where he was named the state tournament MVP. The good news is Fullerton begins the week in deadlock with Saddleback for the conference title. This week, Fullerton begins a three-game home stand, beginning with Santa Ana on Wednesday and Irvine Valley on Friday. But on eyes will be on February 16 when Fullerton visits Saddleback in a game which could decide the conference title.
7. Feather River (17-3) — Feather River climbs a spot this week as the Golden Eagles continue its march to the Golden Valley Conference title. This week, Feather River is facing three games after road conditions made travel difficult in Northern California. Tonight (Monday, Jan. 30), the Golden Eagles hosts 4-15 Siskiyous, then host 11-9 Lassen before traveling to Butte, which begins the week in third place in the conference. Feather River, which has won five straight, is 8-2 in its last 10 games.
8. San Diego City (21-5) — San Diego City, which climbs a spot this week, has opened a two-game lead in the race for the conference championship, and to date only one conference team has played the Knights to within 10 points (Southwestern, 83-77, in Chula Vista). Think it is safe to say the Knights, who appear to be pretty deep, with 13 players having played in 20 games or more, will easily win the Pacific Coast-South division. In its only game this week, San Diego, who plays three of its final five games on the road, host Cuyamaca on Friday.
9. Las Positas (19-4) — Look who is back in the Top 10 — Las Positas, and they open the week breathing down San Francisco's back. The Hawks are a game behind San Francisco in the race for the championship and are responsible for one of the Rams' two losses this season. Since losing two of its first three conference games, Las Positas has won four straight. Unfortunately, here comes another tough stretch — vs. #14 Ohlone (Wednesday), at #15 Canada (Friday), vs. #2 San Francisco (Feb. 10). Three of their final five games are on the road where the Hawks are 5-2.
10. Fresno (18-5) — Fresno tumbles four slots this week after a shocking 105-93 lost to #20 Merced. The Blue Devils opened a 54-41 halftime lead and Fresno never answered. Interestingly, Merced matched Fresno three-point to three-pointer as the Blue Devils made 10 (to Fresno's 11). Appears the game was won at the free throw line where Merced. The Blue Devils attempted 26 free throws (making 21) to Fresno's 17 (made 14). Despite the loss, Fresno continues to lead the Central Valley Conference. The Rams begin the week with a two-game lead over four teams — Merced, Columbia, Sequoias and surprisingly Porterville, winners of five of its last seven games. This week, Fresno hosts one-time threat West Hills on Wednesday and then visits Columbia on Saturday.
11. San Diego Miramar (18-6) — San Diego Miramar climbs one spot this week after taking No. 4 San Bernardino to overtime last week. Miramar trailed by three points at halftime, but rallied behind Javan Perry who came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points. Teammates Marc Williams and Dor Tut, who also came off the bench, added 14 apiece. Miramar now travels San Bernardino by a game with five games to play. This week, the Jets visit Mt. San Jacinto on Saturday in its only game. The Miramar-San Bernardino rematch is schedules for February 15 in San Bernardino.
12. Chaffey (18-6) — Winners of five straight, Chaffey successfully opened a one-game lead in the race for its divisional crown after posting an 85-74 victory over East Los Angeles. The loss also knocked the Huskies, who are 2-2 in their last four games, from the Top 20 for the first time this season. The Panthers got a career game from Brian Beard Jr. The point guard scored a game-high 33 points on 9 of 17 shooting. He also made half of the Panthers' free throws — 14 (on 17 attempts). Teammate Kameron Curl added 21. Chaffey gets four of its final six games at home. This week, the Panthers will put their one-game lead on block when second-place Mt. San Antonio comes to town. Mt. San Antonio is coming off a shocking 73-68 setback to LA Trade Tech. The Mounties trailed by 11 points at half and finished the game shooting a dismal 45 percent from the floor, 23 percent from the three-point line and 61.8 percent from the free throw line. On Friday, Chaffey hosts 8-14 Rio Hondo.
13. Canada (17-6) — Canada was bounced from a first-place tie with San Francisco after falling to Ohlone, 85-79. The loss also dropped the Colts three slots and into a tie with Ohlone for No. 13 this week. Canada's title hopes rest in its next two games — vs. Las Positas (Friday) and then at San Francico (next Wednesday). The Colts play three of its final five games at home. However, if the Colts want to ride off into the sunset a conference champion they need to play their best basketball down the stretch, every possession could be key.
(tie) Ohlone (16-7) — Ohlone moves into the Top 20 this week behind its upset of Canada. The victory keeps Renegades within arm's reach of first place (two games back), with five to plat. Ultimately, second place might be a better place to be playing for. Ohlone will begin the week in fourth place in conference, a game behind Las Positas and Canada. And as luck would have it, Ohlone visits Las Positas on Wednesday. The Renegades beat Las Positas, 80-70, back on January 6. Another win would position Ohlone for a possible top 8 regional seed (two home games, where the Renegades are 7-2). Ohlone will also visit 11-11 Foothill on Friday.
15. Citrus (19-5) — Unranked last week, Citrus comes in at No. 15 this week after winning four consecutive games, including an all-important 80-75 victory over Antelope Valley. The victory moved the Owls into a first-place with with Antelope Valley with five games to play. Citrus trailed by one at halftime vs. the Marauders, but in the second half the Owls used a 11 to 2 advantage at the free throw line to pull out the win. Jeremy Smith led the Owls with 22 points. This week, Citrus, in its only game, the Owls host LA Valley, which begins the week tied with Barstow for third place.
17. Merced (13-8) — Merced climbed three slots this week after stunning Fresno, 105-93, last Saturday. The Blue Devils have now won five of their last seven and moved into a four-way tie for second place in the Central Valley Conference. Bad news is Merced continues to trail Fresno by two games with six to play. This week, Merced, who is in a four-way tied for second place, will remain home, hosting Cerro Coso on Wednesday and then squaring off with Sequoias.
18. Antelope Valley (17-7) — Antelope Valley is 9-1 in its last 10 games, but the loss ·(to Citrus) dropped the Marauders into a tie in the Western State-East division. Antelope Valley hadn't lost a conference game at home since January of 2013 — a streak of 26 games. The Marauders, who were perfect at home last year, have now lost three home games this season. This week, Antelope Valley, which has five remaining games, hosts third-place Barstow and then visits LA Valley, which begins the week tied with Barstow for third.
19. Riverside (17-6) — Riverside has crept back into the hunt for the conference title, unfortunately, the Tigers have already lost to the top two contenders — Saddleback and Fullerton. Riverside, which is 7-3 in its last 10 games, hits the road for games vs. Orange Coast (Wednesday) and Santa Ana (Friday). However, the Tigers may already be thinking about next week — vs. Saddleback (Wednesday, Feb. 8) and at Fullerton (Friday, Feb. 10). Their conference hopes rest with beating at least one, if not both opponents next week.
20. Diablo Valley (17-6) —Diablo Valley has worked its way into a three-way tie for second place in the Big Eight. The Vikings are also within striking distance for conference-leading Santa Rosa. Diablo Valley, which has six games remaining, begins the week just a game behind Santa Rosa. And, as luck will have it for fans, the two will battle on Friday in Pleasant Hill at 7:30 pm. But before the Vikings can focus on Santa Rosa, Diablo Valley needs to worry about American River, which upset Santa Rosa last Friday and drew the competition within striking distance of the Cubs.
Northern California Regional Poll
1. San Francisco (8)
2. Yuba (7)
3. Feather River
4. Las Positas
9. Santa Rosa
10. Diablo Valley
11. American River
12. San Joaquin Delta
Others receiving votes: Columbia, Sacramento City, Lassen, Marin, Sequoias, Los Medanos,
Southern California Regional Poll
1. El Camino-Compton Center (9)
2. Saddleback (5)
3. San Bernardino (1)
5. San Diego City
6. San Diego Miramar
9. Antelope Valley
11. East Los Angeles
12. Mt. San Antonio
14. Mt. San Jacinto
Others receiving votes: Cerritos, LA Southwest, Cuesta, Ventura,