Prep2Prep CCS Rankings
THROUGH WEEK 9
The same teams once again occupy the top spots in this week's CCS boys basketball rankings, but the order has shuffled once again with Riordan reclaiming the top spot after a Friday win over Bellarmine. Serra drops to fourth after the Bells throttled the Padres on Tuesday, while Mitty climbs one spot. Palo Alto moves up two this week while Cupertino is the biggest climber, up three positions. Aptos and Woodside Priory are the new teams in this week's poll, replacing Independence and Woodside. The 76ers drop after a loss to Sobrato, while the Wildcats lost at home to Carlmont and suffered a blowout defeat at Palma less than 24 hours later.Note: Last week's rankings in parentheses
The Crusaders are back in the top spot, not only because they beat Bellarmine, but because of how they did so. The second half of their 71-63 win featured some of Joey Curtin's best coaching and outstanding performances in the paint by Mor Seck and Dominic Wilson to accompany the usual excellence of Je'Lani Clark and Bryce Monroe. In fact, Clark didn't even have one of his best shooting games, hitting only one 3-pointer. If he gets back to his usual self, Riordan could soar even higher.
Yes, the Bells lost at Riordan on Friday, but they move up to the second spot thanks to their wins over both Mitty and Serra, remarkably holding the Padres to just 14 points. Serra had horrific shooting luck in that game, but Ian Elam's defense on Julius Alcantara and Bellarmine's ability to defend the paint was clinical, and it showed up again in the first half on Friday before the Crusaders got going on offense. In the second half, Riordan stumped the Bells by silencing just about every possible option aside from Quinn Denker, who scored a career-high 33 in defeat. Denker was excellent, but for the Bells to lose despite his 27 second-half points show just how essential Elam and Ryan Kiachian are to the team's success.
Arrish Bhandal may have been the missing link for Mitty, scoring 21 in a win at Sacred Heart Cathedral and 11 in Friday's rout of St. Ignatius, including two dunks with Aaron Gordon and his Orlando Magic teammates looking on. Before this week, his prior high for a game was just eight.
Tuesday's loss at Bellarmine was a nightmare for the Padres, but the 14-point showing was a product of good shots missing and a team that checked out mentally after going down by 30, something that can happen to just about any high school team with the right combination of elements. Serra did win on Friday, but Valley Christian hung close in San Mateo the entire way, whereas the Warriors were blown off the court by their other WCAL opponents.
After blowing out Capuchino, the Bears had one of their toughest tests of the league schedule with Sequoia and answered the call with ease, with Nick Tripaldi scoring 18 points, Justin Anderson adding 13 and Spencer Lin scoring 10 of his 12 in the second quarter for a 61-45 home victory.
Even without Garret Keyhani, the Knights rallied from an 11-point deficit at Sacred Heart Prep for a signature 61-52 win that will serve as a major boost to their Open Division credentials. Cole Kastner was limited to just two points in the first half but turned it around with 21 in the final two quarters, including a game-sealing dunk that helped Menlo shake off the frustration of last year's season series sweep.
Still tied for first in the WCAL after five games, the surprisingly strong Lancers continue to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire section, with great chemistry, a barrage of outside shooters and the ability to bring the house down with dunks. Serra and Riordan are up next for a team that's been fearless in the face of adversity so far this season.
Losing at home to Menlo means it'll be an uphill climb for the Gators if they want to reach the CCS Open Division, but no matter where they end up, they showed tremendous character on Saturday by bouncing back with a win over Albany at the Piedmont Martin Luther King Jr. Classic. Sophomore point guard Aidan Braccia was limited Saturday after receiving stiches following that Friday defeat, but Aidan Burke and Harrison Carrington picked up the slack with 12 points apiece.
Most post players would struggle to find their place in a matchup with a lightning-quick and undersized Monterey team, but not J.T. Byrne. The 6-foot-5 junior scored a career-high 47 points to lead the Padres back from a halftime deficit, spearheading a monster 26-4 third quarter to assert control. Kai Lee was held to just 12 points in that game, but Max Carr added nine. A huge week awaits Carmel, with a trip to Salinas on tap before hosting Palma.
The Eagles lived on the edge Friday night, facing a nine-point halftime deficit that most teams would find to be insurmountable against a Cupertino squad that can slow games to a crawl and suck the life out of opponents. However, Los Altos never wavered and got a go-ahead 3-pointer from Jake Skaggs with 11 seconds left to remain unbeaten in league play. Palo Alto will pay a much-anticipated visit on Friday.
WCAL play just got even tougher for the Fightin' Irish after they found out that they'd be without Tyrice Ivy Jr. for at least the next few games. The football standout has 7-on-7 commitments that will keep him away from the hardwood, meaning SHC will have to find a new source for rebounds. His absence was glaring on Friday as St. Francis held a 49-26 rebounding advantage, something that JV callup Eli McCarthy will hope to help address in the coming games. McCarthy will have a chance to make an impact Monday in a must-win game against Oakland, one that the Irish have to take to ensure playoff eligibility.
Life in the WCAL has been hard for the Wildcats, and with their next game coming against a Bellarmine team that's beaten them eight times in a row, it won't get any easier.
The Cougars won three games in four days, never winning by more than 14 points but doing what was necessary against arguably their three top league opponents in El Camino, Westmoor and Jefferson. After a busy week, they'll have just one game in the next nine days, hosting rival Terra Nova on Friday night.
With wins over Mountain View, Homestead and Gunn, the Vikings extended both their winning streak and their streak of holding opponents to 45 points or fewer to five games. For a team that's been limited offensively, positive signs have started to emerge in efforts to boost scoring with the return of Jamir Shepard and Andrew Li's play off the bench. Ryan Purpur has also become a solid center, allowing Matthew Marzano to roam more freely.
A road loss to Menlo-Atherton drops the Ravens back behind a Palo Alto team that had beaten them head-to-head, but the coming weeks provide a chance at redemption, including Friday's home game against Carlmont. Last year, the Scots swept the season series, winning on Sequoia's floor for the first time since 2009.
The Fighting Knights drop a spot this week by no fault of their own, moving down simply because of Palo Alto's recent success. They've started to diversify their scoring, with Tyler Berkson earning his way to more playing time after knocking down six fourth-quarter 3-pointers in a win over Capuchino and Oliver Crank returning from injury.
A positive sign for the Warriors in league play finally came on Friday at Serra, where they hung around until the final minutes of a 65-51 loss. With their JV team sitting at 4-2 in league play and just two seniors on the varsity roster, brighter days are just around the corner for the WCAL's southernmost team.
The last of the unbeaten teams in the BVAL Mt. Hamilton Division, Mahmoud Fofana finally got some help on Wednesday as Jared Johnson scored 27 in a 25-point road win at Leland in which the Saints led 20-6 after one quarter.
Mykiah Wyche's absence has been an obstacle for second-year head coach Anthony Cuellar, but his team is still getting results, with a 66-48 road win against a Sobrato team that was just two days removed from a big win over Independence.
It's hard to move up three spots in the rankings in a .500 week, but it's also hard to beat Los Altos, which the Pioneers nearly did on Friday night. As usual, Cupertino's style keeps games close by limiting the number of possessions, which can be a double-edged sword.
A week after getting throttled by Woodside from 3-point range, the Panthers dealt the same punishment to Aragon. A 33-16 rebounding deficit would typically be a death sentence for a Jeff Dowd team, but the Panthers forced 19 turnovers and went 8-of-15 from 3-point land in a 63-56 road victory. Miles Klapper had a bounce-back performance off the bench with 13 points and three steals.
The Chieftains are starting to find their groove in advance of a colossal game with Carmel, extending their winning streak to a season-high seven games with a Saturday pasting of Woodside. Alvarez is a potential trap game before the must-see battle with the Padres.
One of two new entrants in this week's rankings, the Panthers have bullied teams inside with the work of 6-foot-7 junior David Ajanaku-Makun while getting strong guard play from Zach Zafran. Pinewood and Sacred Heart Prep await in what should be a week that not only tests Priory's strength, but also helps shape Division V seeding, where Pinewood is jockeying for position amongst the top seeds.
Until Jailen Daniel-Dalton gets back, secondary scoring will likely remain an issue for the Spartans, who had 11 different players score in Tuesday's game but only got more than seven points from one of them, Ryan Bahar. Daniel-Dalton's return will help take pressure off Bahar, but until that comes, Mountain View will have to tough out low-scoring battles.
Underwhelming nonleague results have kept the Mariners from being ranked until now, but with their wins over Soquel and Santa Cruz, it's fair to credit those early struggles to the heavy football presence on the roster and the adjustment period needed for those multi-sport athletes. Aptos is the only remaining unbeaten team in the SCCAL, but road games against the other two main title contenders loom in the coming weeks.