RIVERSIDE, Calif. - With San Francisco dominating the north voting as the region’s top team, the Rams will hold the state’s top ranking in the California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association for the third consecutive poll. The south top votes went to three different teams — San Diego City, Fullerton and San Bernardino Valley.
1. San Francisco City (17-1) — The Rams ran their win streak to 13 games as they opened defense of its Coast-South title with a 102-68 victory over Chabot, in its only game last week. This week, San Francisco hosts #10 Foothill and unranked Canada. The Rams won four of the five tournaments they competed in this year. They will need all of that experience as they face Foothill, Canada and Las Positas over the course of the next 10 days.
2. San Diego City — (19-2) — San Diego City won its 12th consecutive game and its fifth consecutive tournament title last week, but it wasn’t easy. The Knights overcame an 11-point halftime deficit in inking out a 71-69 victory over Cerritos in the finals and a day after scoring a 97-82 victory ranked San Diego Miramar. This week, San Diego City hosts Cuyamaca (Friday) to open its defense of its division title.
3. Fresno City (14-3) — Fresno City ran its win streak to eight games with wins over Cerro Coso and Sequoias, one of two teams thought to pressure Fresno City for the conference crown this year. In the win over Sequoias, Fresno City opened and 8-point halftime lead and then held off the Giants, 71-69. Interesting, Fresno City had three players — all coming off the bench — to score in double figures. The Rams’ starters managed just 20 of the 71 points. Tyus Millhollin led the Rams with 17 points. The loss was especially detrimental in Sequoias’ pursuit of the conference title as the Giants loss back-to-back conference games last week (87-79 to Columbia). This week, Fresno City travels to Columbia before hosting Porterville.
4. Fullerton (13-4) — Were we right, or were we right? Winning the Orange Empire Conference title is going to be a %^&*&%! Two of the games last week went into double overtime. When the dust settled, Fullerton was the only team to escape unharmed — winning both of its games. Entering week two there is a five-way tie for third place. Saddleback, the only other undefeated team, travels to Fullerton Wednesday, so by 7 pm there will be only one undefeated team remaining. The Saddleback-Fullerton meeting will be the fifth meeting between coach (Andy Ground) and player (Perry Webster). Their all-time record stands at 4-2 in favor of coach, but Webster swept the conference series last year. The Hornets are riding a six-game win streak. Saddleback, at 9-8, won consecutive games for the first time since way back in November. This year’s Gaucho team has yet to win three consecutive games, and it will be tough to get the third one in the Hornet Nest.
5. Gavilan (15-1) — Gavilan climbs a spot this week after opening conference play with an 11-point win over West Valley. The Rams host 7-10 De Anza and 7-9 Cabrillo this week before being tested next week with games with Monterey Peninsula (on the road) and then home against Hartnell. Gavilan actually trailed in its conference opener with West Valley. However, the Rams got 20 points and 12 rebounds from Ibn Zaid and 29 rebounds from Xander Bowers to pull out the win, its fifth straight and 15th in the last 16 games.
6. San Bernardino Valley (16-4) — Didn’t take San Bernardino Valley long to return to its winning ways as the Wolverines rolled through the competition at the Cuesta Tournament, which included a 75-56 blowout of East Los Angeles in the finals. San Bernardino Valley’s dismantling of the Huskies pushed the Wolverines up in this week’s poll. This week, San Bernardino Valley opens conference play. The Wolverines are clearly the choice for the Pacific Coast-North division title. In its only game this week, San Bernardino Valley hosts Palomar on Friday.
7. East Los Angeles (14-4) — East Los Angeles tumbles this week after its shocking 19-point loss to San Bernardino Valley in the finals of the MiraCosta Tournament. The Huskies had its five-game win streak snapped. The loss marked the second time East LA had lost to San Bernardino Valley this season (94-70 in November). Ironically, East LA also has a 25-point win over San Bernardino Valley this season (77-52 in December). Next week, East LA opens conference competition with a home game vs. 8-8 Pasadena and a road contest at 6-10 Mt. San Antonio. This week, they play a single game in the Reggie Morris showcase vs. Santa Monica on Saturday.
8. West Hills (11-2) — West Hills matched Fresno City’s opening week with its own two-game sweep of the competition. The Falcons climbed three slots this week after opening wins over Reedley (88-76) and Merced (72-69). This week, West Hills gets 6-7 Porterville and 5-8) Cerro Coso at home. Guard Lloyd Hanna has scored in double figures in his last eight games, including 17 vs. Reedley.
9. Citrus (17-3) — Well, Citrus atoned for its loss to Chaffey on December 20, but it resulted in no bump in this week’s poll. The Owls maintain its state’s No. 9 ranking headed into Western State-East play. Citrus got 25 points from sophomore point guard Jeremy Smith, the tournament MVP. The 25 points came on the heels of scoring 41 points in a win over West LA, breaking the Citrus record for points scored in a single game. The hoisting of the tournament trophy was the third for the Owls who open conference play against LA Valley on Saturday at home.
10. Foothill (13-5) — Winners of six straight and nine of its last 10, Foothill climbs two slots this week after opening conference play with consecutive wins, including an 81-74 victory over Las Positas. It appears head coach Matt Stanley has managed to fix whatever caused Foothill to lose three of its first six game and four of its first eight games. This week, the Owls will face another test as Foothill travels to #1 San Francisco. The Rams last lost to Foothill on January 14, 2015. Freshman guard Matt McAndrews has scored in double figures in 16 of 18 games this season. This conference title goes through San Francisco, so Foothill will need big games from its big players and strong play from the bench to pull this off. In addition to the Rams, Foothill also visits Ohlone this week.
11. Butte (13-3) — Butte climbed six slots this week and didn’t have to lift a finger. Okay, they had to beat Simpson JV by 25, but the Roadrunners have returned to a more realistic ranking spot after falling last week to No. 17. Butte has played the state’s 10th toughest schedule. The odds-on favorite for the Golden Valley Conference title, Butte opens conference play at home against 2-12 Redwoods and travels to take on 10-8 Shasta on Saturday.
12. Cerritos (14-4) — The Falcons get a bump in this week’s poll after nearing pulling an upset of #2 Sn Diego City in the finals of the MiraCosta Tournament. Cerritos blew an 11-point halftime lead, eventually falling by two points. In its only game this week, Cerritos will take on Bakersfield in the one-day Reggie Morris Showcase at LA Southwest. Head coach Russ May, who is in his ninth year, will be trying to win his fifth conference championship beginning next week.
13. Santiago Canyon — Santiago Canyon tumbles three spots this week after losing to Riverside in double overtime and then beating ranked Copper Mountain. The Hawks missed an opportunity at stealing one in Riverside. The game featured 14 ties and 14 lead changes, the final coming when sophomore guard Brae Ivey hit a three pointer at the buzzer for a 90-87 victory. Just two nights later, Santiago managed to defend home court by turning back Copper Mountain, 103-96, behind 44 points from Rodney Henderson, who earlier in the week scored 32 on Riverside. Santiago Canyon out-scored Copper Mountain 33 to 19 from the free throw line. This week, the Hawks host Orange Coast before visiting Mission Viejo for a game with Saddleback.
14. Santa Rosa (11-4) — Winners of seven straight, Santa Rosa climbs four spots this week after taking the early lead in the race for the Big 8 Conference. After two weeks of conference play, the Cubs are the lone undefeated team at 4-0. This week, Santa Rosa faces three games — first vs. second-place Modesto (3-1, 10-6 to begin the week), winners of three straight; Cosumnes River (2-2, 6-8) and the Sierra (3-2, 8-8).
15. Copper Mountain (14-5) — Copper Mountain begins the week as one of five teams tied for third place in the Orange Empire Conference. The Fighin’ Cacti will host Irvine Valley and Riverside this week in a pair of 5 pm games. Copper Mountain is 2-3 in its last five games. It appears the Fightin’ Cacti haven’t been playing much defense. In their last five games, Copper Mountain’s opposition has allowed over 81 points a contest. In their previous 16 games, Fightin’ Cacti allowed the opposition 80 points or more just three times, and they won two of those three games. We are sure Devin Aye has told the team, on more than one occasion —— defense wins titles.
16. Las Positas (13-5) — Bought a new tennis ball this past weekend, I named it Las Positas. The Hawks began last week soaring, having won eight of its last nine games. First, they needed overtime to hold off Ohlone and then fell by seven to Foothill, 81-74. On Wednesday, Las Positas visits 10-8 Canada in its only game this week. That will give the coaching staff a week to prepare for #1 San Francisco — unfortunately, I don’t think it is nearly enough time.
17. San Diego Miramar (13-4) — San Diego Miramar took two of three games last week at the MiraCosta Tournament, losing only to San Diego City, 97-82. This week, the Jets visit 4-11 Los Angeles Valley in its only game. Miramar will begin conference play next week at Mt. San Jacinto.
18. Yuba (11-5) — Yuba returns to the top 20 after spending last week ranked No. 13 in Northern California. It appears point guard Elishja Duplechan has decided to take over the reins of the 49’ers wagon. Duplechan had season-high 31 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in Yuba’s 87-75 upset of Contra Costa. Ironically, Yuba will begin the week in third place in the conference race, trailing #19 Contra Costa, and a surprising Napa Valley squad that is 4-0 in conference after going 4-7 in the preseason. This week, the 49’ers host 2-11 Marin, visit Napa Valley and return home to host 8-8 Merritt. The Napa Valley-Yuba game will indicate just how serious Napa Valley is in competing for the conference title. Winners of five straight, Napa Valley faces week that includes Yuba and a game at Contra Costa.
19. Contra Costa (10-6) —Despite having its four-game wins streak snapped by Yuba, Contra Costa managed to climb into this week’s top 20 as there was a wide-variety of votes spread among a number of teams. Despite the loss, things are still looking up for the Comets who begin the week securely in second place after two weeks of play. This week, the Comets face last-place Marin and Napa Valley, which opens the week in first place after going 4-0 to open conference play.
20. Victor Valley (11-5) — The CCCMBCA poll welcomes Victor Valley to this week’s state poll. We looked but we couldn’t locate the last time the Rams were ranked among the top 20. Regardless, head coach Troy Johnson has the Rams sitting at 11-5 headed into their conference opener on Saturday at Glendale. Victor Valley is just 3-3 in its last six games, but the Rams did win the consolation trophy at Cuyamaca Tournament, which was highlighted by wins over #17 Miramar and Antelope Valley. Pollsters must have ignored the three-point loss to Cerro Coso which kept the Rams out of the championship game.