Holding steady from the first rankings until now, the Salesian Pride bound into the playoffs as the No. 1 ranked team in Northern California by MaxPreps with a lot more to accomplish.
Should the Pride emerge from the postseason still in this position, then it will indeed be a remarkable run. The defending Division IV state champions will be placed in the newly instituted Open Division after the section title games are finished across the state, meaning the best against the best. That field will also likely include Sheldon (Sacramento), Mitty (San Jose), De La Salle (Concord), Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) and Modesto Christian, a murderer's row of talented programs.
No. 3 Bishop O'Dowd beat No. 7 Modesto Christian 71-62 in this week's nonleague thriller showcase in what could be a preview of an Open Division showdown.
De La Salle coach Frank Allocco won his 600th game — not this season; that'd be some sort of record — in a remarkable career rooted on fundamentals and defense.MaxPreps Northern California Top 25 Boys Basketball Rankings1. (Last week 1) Salesian (Richmond) 23-3, 10-0
The Pride finished the regular season strong and head into the Tri-County Rock League playoffs on a roll. Salesian has impressive NorCal wins over Mitty 72-51, De La Salle 47-43 and Sheldon 69-60, and may have to get past all of them to win the NorCal Open championship. Mario Dunn
and Markel Leonard
are superb running mates with one of the all-time program greats in Jabari Bird
, the over-the-top talent. Expect him to be named to the McDonald's All-American Game roster.2. (3) Sheldon (Sacramento) 21-5, 10-0
The Huskies rebounded from their 69-60 nonleague showdown loss to Salesian by wrapping up the Delta River League championship, including holding off Sacramento Bee No. 2 Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove), 84-77, in another thriller rivalry meeting. Sheldon now seeks an unprecedented four-peat in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I field behind four-year varsity stars
, Dakarai Allen
, Ryan Manning
and Darin Johnson
. Against Pleasant Grove, Allen went for 27 and 12 rebounds, Johsnon had 21 of his 23 in the second half, Manning had 13 and Williams had eight points, eight rebounds and six assists.3. (2) Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 21-3, 9-0
In a showdown of expected Open Division teams — maybe even a preview — the Dragons downed Modesto Christian 71-62 behind superb sophomore post Ivan Rabb
, who had 22 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocked shots. The Dragons have won 13 consecutive games and have lost only to national power Mater Dei (Santa Ana), Windward (Los Angeles) and Mundelein of Illinois. They finish league play this week.4. (4) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 19-5, 13-1
After being jolted by Serra (San Mateo) 66-59, the Monarchs now march into the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs a grumpy lot. Expect a rematch with Serra. All-American national recruit Aaron Gordon
at 6-8 is a load inside and outside and his team is the defending state Division II champion.5. (8) Serra (San Mateo) 21-3, 12-2
The Padres split with Mitty in the brutal West Catholic Athletic League down the stretch and now like their chances to win the WCAL postseason tournament. Henry Caruso
and Eddie Stansberry
lead the way. Serra has won nine consecutive games.6. (7) De La Salle (Concord) 22-3, 13-1
Frank Allocco has 600 wins in a storied career that started at nearby Northgate, where he won a state title with his son leading the team as a guard. At De La Salle, Allocco has solidified himself as perhaps the greatest defensive coach in state history with teams that cut off the baseline, siphon off the lane and box out like maniacs. De La Salle won the East Bay Athletic League championship and showed just how good it can be by nearly bouncing Salesian earlier this month. Elliott Pitts
is a senior leader who has also helped mentor four impact freshmen.7. (6) Modesto Christian 24-3, 12-0
There's no shame losing to Bishop O'Dowd in a close game, and the Crusaders could see those Dragons again in the NorCal Open playoffs next month. Mason Washington
had 19 against O'Dowd. Modesto Christian now prepares for the Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV playoffs as the heavy favorite under coach Gary Porter, who has a section-record 14 section titles in various divisions, including D-I.8. (8) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 20-5, 8-2
The Eagles have NorCal losses to heavies in Sacramento and Sheldon (twice). They won't see Sacramento again as the Dragons are in the D-II playoffs, but there's a good chance they could face their Sheldon rival again in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I finals. Three-year starters are guards Matt Hayes
and Malik Thames
and forward Cole Nordquist
, who had 31 points and 12 rebounds in an 84-77 loss to Sheldon to close out the Delta River League schedule.
9. Deer Valley (Antioch) 18-5, 6-1
A 93-80 loss at Heritage (Brentwood) stings, but there's plenty of time to regroup and claim the Bay Valley title with a win over Freedom (Oakley) on Thursday. Kentucky-bound star Marcus Lee
did not play against Heritage and Kendall Smith
went for 29 before fouling out. Early season wins include De La Salle (Concord) (55-38) and Sacramento (97-96).10. (11) Newark Memorial 17-7, 12-0
The Cougars close out Mission Valley Athletic League play this week against Washington (Fremont) and Kennedy (Fremont) before taking a run in the postseason. The winning streak is 15. The last two losses are to Pleasant Grove 64-57 and to Deer Valley 55-54. Newark has two wins over Dublin and a one-point loss to Salesian.11. (12) Dublin 20-5, 10-1
An 11-game winning streak was splattered with an 89-80 loss at Miramonte (Orinda), the first setback since falling to Serra (San Mateo) 71-63. The Diablo Valley League title is within reach with a victory over Dougherty Valley (San Ramon) on Thursday. Dublin nonleague wins include Monte Vista (Danville) and Sacramento.12. (15) Sacramento 21-6, 13-1
The Dragons avenged their lone Metropolitan Conference loss to Kennedy (Sacramento) with an impressive 73-42 rout to lock up the program's sixth league title in seven seasons. Devin Young
continues to play beyond his years as a 6-6 freshman post, and the team got a boost with the return of senior guard De'Von Boyd
, who was out with a knee injury. He had 18 in the regular season finale against McClatchy (Sacramento). Sacramento heads into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs as a favorite along with Antelope, the defending champion. Sacramento early victories include Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove), Antelope, West Ranch (Valencia) and Chaminade (West Hills). Losses are to Deer Valley, Dublin and Bishop O'Dowd.13. (16) San Leandro 20-4, 8-2
The Pirates can win the West Alameda County League title with wins this week over Bishop O'Dowd and San Lorenzo. It won't be easy with O'Dowd, certainly, as those Dragons prevailed 57-46 in the first meeting. Lost 77-72 to Sheldon early and beat Deer Valley 67-62.14. (17) Antelope 21-6, 10-0
The Titans clinched their third consecutive league title, a feat all the more remarkable since this is such a young varsity athletic program. Coach Rob Richards has a team seeking a Sac-Joaquin Section D-II repeat — and may have to clear Sac High to do so. The senior bangers are Gabe Bealer
and Isaiah Ellis
. Close losses include Sacramento (59-48) and Bullard (Fresno) 65-60).15. (18) Palo Alto 22-1, 11-0
The Vikings have won 19 consecutive games and close out the regular season at Milpitas on Friday as it bears down on a perfect run through the DeAnza League. Defense has been the staple, and star leader is Aubrey Dawkins
, son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.16. (12) Monte Vista (Danville) 18-6, 9-3
The Mustangs split with De La Salle in East Bay Athletic League play then stumbled a bit with a tough loss at Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 52-45. The regular-season finale is Friday against San Ramon Valley (Danville) before the postseason.17. (19) Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 24-2, 14-0
The Cardinals have 14 consecutive games and locked up the North Bay League with Casa Grande (Petaluma) looming tonight in the NBL playoffs. Nonleague wins include 50-46 over Campolindo (Moraga) with a 57-51 loss to Monte Vista (Danville).18. (NR) Heritage (Brentwood) 19-5, 6-2
The Patriots are ranked for the first time thanks to solid play all season, highlighted by a 93-80 victory over Deer Valley in Bay Valley League play. Earlier loss was 66-63 to Dublin in the Don Nelson Classic and an 82-74 league setback to Deer Valley. Finish the week with Freedom (Oakley) and Pittsburg.
19. (20) McClymonds (Oakland) 15-7, 6-0
Mack finishes Oakland League action against old rivals in Skyline (Oakland), Fremont (Oakland) and Oakland Tech. Nonleague wins include El Cerrito (72-54). This is one of the storied programs in NorCal history, dating back decades.20. (21) El Cerrito 19-8, 8-2
The Gauchos have lost twice to Salesian in Tri-County League action — 61-50 and 61-48 — in a competitive show of consistency. They close the regular season against St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda) on Thursday then head into the postseason.21. (24) El Camino (South San Francisco) 20-4, 12-0
The Colts were untouched in the Peninsula North with a smothering defense and balanced offensive play, headed by Michael Smith
, who averages 24 points. The PAL tournament starts Thursday.22. (25) Enterprise (Redding) 19-3, 5-0
The Hornets of the Northern Section are in charge of the Sacramento River League, taking down Foothill (Palo Cedro) 51-38 and Shasta (Redding) 56-49. Nonleague loss of 56-49 to El Cerrito in a tournament is proof of this product.
23. (NR) Drake (San Anselmo) 22-4, 14-0
The Pirates jump into the rankings for the first time, having locked up the Marin County League with an overall winning streak of 16. Drake is allowing 37.3 points a game, thanks in part to 10 steals a game and balanced scoring.24. (NR) Golden Valley (Merced) 23-4, 10-0
The Cougars of the Central California League now prepare for the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I postseason that will also include Sheldon and Pleasant Grove. Golden Valley is allowing just 35 points a game.25. (NR) Bella Vista (Fair Oaks) 22-5, 10-0
The Broncos won the Capital Valley Conference behind balance and the unsung coaching of Dave Gonzalez, whose father Paul is currently an assistant coach and was a decorated coach at Roseville. Bella Vista has had Sac-Joaquin Section playoff success in D-II over the years and now takes on the D-I field for the first time.