Prep2Prep CCS Rankings
THROUGH WEEK 18
Here are our final CCS basketball rankings, accounting for state playoff results.Note: Last week's rankings in parentheses
The Bells' CCS Open Division title was three years in the making, and it was a season full of memories that will last a lifetime. While Jake Wojcik and Kendall Stubblefield will be awfully hard to replace, there will be a lot of talent in the system for years to come. With Kiran Kruse starring, Quinn Denker at the point, Constantijn Cole in the post and tons of reinforcements from the JV and freshman units, Bellarmine will be difficult to knock off in the coming years.
Sure, Mitty likely felt that things could have gone differently in the end, with the season culminating by getting run out of the gym by Las Lomas in the NorCal Division I Semifinals. Still, to even get that far after a 2-12 start is a remarkable feat. With Joseph Vaughn, Devan Sapp and Michael Mitchell returning next year, Mitty will be a major early-season favorite once again.
A run to the NorCal Division I title game puts Palo Alto in the conversation for one of the best public school teams in the section since the start of the new millennium. Other than the 2005 Santa Cruz team and the Vikings' 2006 squad, it would be hard to argue that any public school in the section has fielded a better team in 20-some years.
No, St. Ignatius did not win a league or section title in three years with this core. But considering the quality of competition that this group faced, there's no shortage of accomplishments from a group that revolutionized SI basketball and defined the qualities that head coach Rob Marcaletti wants his team to employ, championing intensity and hard work. If the junior class recovers from injuries as hoped, next year's team could be phenomenal.\
After two blowout CCS Open Division losses, did anyone expect Menlo to reach the NorCal semifinals? The Knights are right up there among the elite small-school programs in the region after a phenomenal year. While losing Joe Foley, Riley Woodson and Thomas Brown will leave holes to fill, two more years of Cole Kastner should be a good way to soften the blow.
Logan Johnson's career ended abruptly with a first-round state tournament loss to Central, but he still leaves with a tremendous legacy. With his competitive nature and love for the dramatic, high-intensity moments, he'll fit right in at Cincinnati. As for the future of the Lancers, Roy Yuan, Oscar Pedraza, Maurice Wilmer, Matteo Fontana and Desai Lopez certainly have what it takes to make their senior years memorable.
Back-to-back .500 finishes in WCAL play are most likely just a blip on the radar for the Padres. With Parker McDonald set for one more year and Cade Rees expected to be healthy for his senior year, Serra should once again be among the best in the area. This year's group went out strong, getting revenge on Sequoia in an Open Division consolation game and pushing Dublin to the limit in NorCals. The Padres always seem to graduate an indispensable player like Colin McCarthy, but there's always someone waiting in the wings to inherit the throne. It's just the way the Serra program is built.
The remarkable run for this Sequoia senior class ended rather unceremoniously, without a win past the PAL Tournament, but three league tournament titles in four years and the school's first regular-season title since bell-bottom jeans were fashionable has Ziggy Lauese, Zach Bene, Pedram Attari, Jean Ayarza and Myles Nunez leaving with quite the reputation. Lio Lauese has a chance to continue this program's roll.\
A thrilling comeback for the CCS Division III title and a first-round NorCal win over St. Patrick-St. Vincent is a nice ending to Joey Curtin's first year at the helm of the Crusader program, and it has James Chun headed to Chaminade with tons of Riordan records in tow. That section title win has the Crusaders leading the CCS with 15 championships.
Who would have thought that the team that struggled in early-season losses to Saratoga and Mountain View would end up winning a section title, winning a state tournament game by 31 on the road and pushing eventual NorCal champion Alameda to the limit? Dylan Belquist and Alex-Braken Guelke put together incredible senior years, with Braken-Guelke elevating himself from the secondary star to being in the same conversation with the USF-bound Belquist over the course of the season.
Wondering how good the WCAL is? Look no further than Valley Christian's win over Branson. The last-place team in the WCAL bounced a top seed that racked up 30 wins, and the Warriors did so in a grueling defensive battle. They also held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of their NorCal semifinal loss to Central Catholic. Mark DeLuca is well on his way from bringing this program back to the ranks of the elite, though there's a lot of outgoing talent to replace.
The Cougars finally got that elusive section title. Now the real challenge begins for head coach John Parsons. A team that's had excellent post play for a decade won't have any returning players over 6-foot-3. For all the great centers Half Moon Bay has had, Ethan Menzies may be the best of all of them, averaging 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior. He threw down quite possibly the dunk of the year in the CCS Division IV Championship win over Santa Cruz.
A heartbreaking CCS championship loss and a tight defeat in the first round of NorCals means there will be no shortage of motivation for Monterey's remarkable quartet next year. As good as Palma was with Jamaree Bouyea, this Toreadores senior class will have a chance to match, if not exceed, those accolades.
The Fightin' Irish were as up-and-down as any team around this year, alternating between big wins and harrowing losses in the blink of an eye. With Bryce Monroe and E.J. Neal coming back, there's a good chance this group will find the desired consistency in Sean MacKay's third year.
It turned out that the Pirates were the victims of a weak nonleague schedule and a loaded Division I, as their inability to qualify for the Open Division and CCS title game loss spelled the end for a remarkable senior class. Still, this was a phenomenal group, and it seems like Pete Simos always has another great team at his disposal. Brandan Lowe, Andrew Le and Caiaphas Ardoin will be among the few experienced players entering next season for Piedmont Hills.
Losing Max Dehart will be tough. Getting every other possible piece back will certainly make things easier. With a dynamic group of versatile, interchangeable players, expect Santa Cruz to be back in the hunt next year after making the CCS Division IV Championship this season.
The trio of juniors that transferred in from Westmoor will have to take over in their senior seasons, but that group certainly has a nice path carved out. Outgoing seniors Rodney Lawrence, Daniel Benjamin and J.P. Johnson led some of Jefferson's best teams in over a decade, and now it's time for Marquez Costiniano, Luis Villareal and J.J. Cruz to take the reins.
Mills has yet to play in a section title game, but with Colby Vasquez set for one more season, the time may be ripe for the Vikings. Yes, Nick Brouqua graduates, but the struggles that were displayed when he went down with an ankle-injury in a season-ending CCS semifinal loss to Riordan won't be typical, as this group will now have the full offseason to learn to play without the do-it-all Brouqua. Mills also returns one of the best outside shooters in the section in Michael Matsuno, and Ibra Diawara came on strong late in the season after transferring from Riordan.
Things may have ended a bit sooner than the Cowboys would have liked, but their final win, a last-second CCS Division I Quarterfinal victory over rival Alisal, is a pretty great memory that'll stick with these Salinas players for a lifetime. JoJo Paris, A.J. Saldana and Carl Richardson are all return next season.
Very few teams have as much returning talent next season as the Trojans. One team with that level returning is league rival Monterey, which should make for some epic showdowns in the new PCAL. If Alisal can replace power forward Adriano Betancourt, this next year could be the best in program history. Once interesting aspect to keep an eye on is how coach Jose Gil chooses to deploy Sebastian Reynoso, who has the outside shooting skill to play at the collegiate level, but also stands as the tallest player in the program at 6-8.
Potential league MVP Sam Manu will need to stay healthy in order to lead the Dons next year. He wernt from being a secret weapon to becoming one of the top scorers in the area after returning from Taiwan before the season.
Matt Eberle moves on to Cal Poly-Pomona leaving quite the legacy. He's the type of player any coach would love to have, with game-changing talent, a great sense of the game and the sense to spread the ball around rather than try to do everything himself.
One more year of James Beckwith and Will Beasley and two more of Justin Anderson and Nick Tripaldi means the Bears may be back atop the PAL quite soon. There'll certainly be a lot of talent, and the early conclusion to the season as a result of an injuries means there's plenty of time to get back to health, get stronger and prepare for another run.
In such a senior-heavy year, Carmel had a plethora of young talent. J.T. Byrne was the top freshman in the section, and Kai Lee was among the best sophomores. Expect the next few years to be awfully fun for the Padres.
The Longhorns graduate their top four scorers, but Dylan Johnston averaged 8.2 points per game. Considering Leigh's remarkable nonleague schedule, this group will have no shortage of experience against top competition.