Another California power is now back in the latest FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, after dropping out the previous week. As June’s NCAA scholastic live period nears, the ongoing high school season has reached a point where it is now clashing with summer ball. How will it affect the rankings?
By Ronnie Flores
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The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section open division has its championship game set up after three rounds of competitive pool play contests. When all the dust settled, the top two seeds advanced to Friday’s title contest.
As expected, top seed Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.), the No. 10 team in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com and still unbeaten, won pool “A” with an unbeaten 3-0 record. The Trailblazers advanced with a 82-76 victory over previous No. 47 Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) in a pool play game in which Sierra Canyon trailed by a point with just over a minute remaining. That’s when UCLA junior commit Amari Bailey went to work, scoring on a conventional 3-point play and another contested basket to seal the win for the two-time defending CIFSS open champions. Bailey finished with 25 points, while junior forward Shy Odom also had a big game with 23 points.
The third pool play game between Sierra Canyon and Etiwanda was a “straight up” contest with the winner advancing to the title game. In pool “B”, it was a bit more complicated. In the end, No. 2 seed Centennial (Corona, Calif.) advanced to the title game and jumped back in this week’s FAB 50 for Etiwanda at No. 46. Centennial didn’t actually find out it had advanced until after its own 84-69 victory over traditional California power Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) in its final pool play game. Even though the Huskies won they still needed some help to advance to the title game. Had Harvard-Westlake (Harvard Westlake, Calif.) defeated Damien (La Verne, Calif.), the Wolverines would have been the team to face Sierra Canyon. Harvard-Westlake defeated Centennial in its first pool play game when sophomore guard Kylan Boswell was out of the lineup.
The Huskies just had too much speed and quickness on the perimeter for Mater Dei, as junior Donovan Dent had 33 points. When Damien defeated Harvard-Westlake, Centennial celebrated post-game in the locker room and hallways. Centennial will need to be hitting on all cylinders to take down a Sierra Canyon team that is an incredible 20-0 against all seven of the other teams that participated in the CIFSS open field when it faced one of those teams, including 2-0 vs. Centennial.
One thing is certain about Friday’s section championship game: win or lose Centennial will be done for the 2020-21 season. Coach Josh Giles (who played for current Damien coach Mike LeDuc at Glendora High School in SoCal) confirmed to Ballislife that his team will not participate in the SoCal regional playoffs, which are scheduled to begin June 15 after the CIF Central, Southern, L.A. City, and San Diego Section playoffs conclude this weekend.
Centennial, as are at least 63 other California teams, are scheduled to compete in Section 7, a NCAA-sanctioned scholastic live period event held June 18-20 at State Farm Arena in Glendale, Ariz. The CIF SoCal regional championships will conclude June 19. Dent and Boswell are just two of the many talented underclassmen who haven’t been evaluated live by college coaches in well over 15 months. It was just too important an opportunity for Giles to offer the student-athletes in his program.
There is no confirmation any other SoCal team is going to end their season at the section level and drop out of the regional playoffs, but this is where the intersection of high school basketball in the spring and summer travel ball clash. For a majority of schools in Southern California, the school year has ended and seniors have participated in graduation ceremonies. Some schools, such as talented 15-0 Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.) had to end its season the day of graduation. Tennessee-bound Jahmai Mashack of Etiwanda is already enrolled in college courses while still competing for the Eagles, which have this week off and are scheduled to compete in the regional playoffs next week.
If Sierra Canyon beats Centennial, it won’t affect the rankings much. However, if Centennial hands Sierra Canyon its first loss of the season it will create an interesting scenario for the final two sets of FAB 50 rankings. Centennial will need to be ranked in front of Sierra Canyon for at least a week because of the head-to-head win. But will it have done enough to hop No. 37 Torrey Pines (San Diego, Calif.)?
On Wednesday, the Falcons upped their record to 28-0 with a dominant 84-59 victory over St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) in the San Diego Section open semifinals. Torrey Pines, of course, owns a win over Centennial. If Sierra Canyon and Torrey Pines meet in the open regional playoffs and Sierra Canyon were to win, it probably would have done enough to hop back in front of Centennial considering the Falcons beat Centennial. In that scenario, however, we’d have to evaluate how the actual results play out before making a final rankings decision.
Torrey Pines (which faces 17-2 Cathedral Catholic of San Diego on Saturday for the section open crown) is not scheduled to play in the first session of Section 7, but is scheduled to the following weekend (June 25-27) after the CIF high school basketball season will be over.
After the next two weeks, we’ll have to make a determination if team(s) in Oregon (OSAA) are good enough to crack the FAB 50. Washington (WIAA) ends its season June 11. If we determine Oregon teams are not, the final FAB 50 rankings will be released the week of June 21. The final West Region Top 20 won’t be released to every game in Oregon is completed.
Dropped Out: Previous No. 47 Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.).
Bubble Teams: Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, N.C.) 10-1; Atascocita (Humble, Texas) 24-3; Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) 15-0; Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 17-7; Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 6-1; Catalina Foothills (Tuscon, Ariz.) 19-1; Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 20-0; Central (Little Rock, Ark.) 23-5; Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 22-2; Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Col.) 17-1; Cleveland (Rio Rancho, N.M.) 14-1; Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.) 23-3; Davis (Kaysville, Utah) 22-4; Del City (Del City, Okla.) 22-4; DePaul College Prep (Chicago, Ill.) 14-2; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 17-2; Elizabethtown (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 22-3; Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 11-2****; Highlands (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) 30-4; Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 14-0; Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 8-1****; John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) 11-5; Kickapoo (Springfield, Mo.) 28-2; La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 10-10; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 14-1; Mentor (Mentor, Ohio) 25-1; O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.) 11-1****; Richardson (Richardson, Texas) 25-2; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 12-3; Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 8-2****; South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas) 21-1; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 21-3; Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) 16-1; St. Catherine’s (Racine, Wis.) 28-1; St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.) 15-1; St. Mary’s (Pheonix, Ariz.) 20-1; Thunderidge (Highlands Ranch, Col.) 13-2; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 15-1**; Waxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas) 20-3; Westlake (Saratoga Springs, Utah) 21-4; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 27-5; Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 15-1; Wilson (West Lawn, Pa.) 20-2.
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 21 years ago.
Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores