DE LA SALLE, SALESIAN BOYS: ON ANOTHER LEVEL?
There is not much doubt about which boys basketball teams are the best in the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area three weeks into the season.
De La Salle made a statement in its season opener, defeating Centennial-Corona 62-51 in the NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Dublin High.
Since then, the Spartans have added eight more victories to their now 9-0 resume, winning two tournaments on their home court. Saturday, they won at home over Los Alamitos — another strong Southern California opponent — 75-70.
Salesian has an equally impressive resume.
The Pride improved to 9-0 on Saturday with a 62-51 victory over Centennial-Corona in the Pro Image Sports Holiday Classic final at Owyhee High School in Meridian, Idaho. Yes, the same score of the DLS-Centennial game.
The previous weekend, Salesian captured the championship at the prestigious Gridley Invitational, beating Branson 63-60 in overtime in the final.
The Pride, as always under longtime coach Bill Mellis, gets it done with balance on the scoresheet. That was again the case against Centennial as Alvin Loving (14 points), Zander Jimenez (13 points) and De’Undrae Perteete (12 points) led the way.
In a 55-47 victory over host Owyhee on Friday, Salesian got 18 points from Amani Johnson, 15 from Loving and 12 from Elias Obenyah.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK: Poll returns Jan. 8
For De La Salle, it’s no secret that its top player is 6-foot-6 junior Alec Blair. Saturday, he had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over Los Alamitos, which brought a 10-2 record into the nonleague game in Concord.
But the Spartans are far from a one-player show. Arshawn Salkhi added 21 points on Saturday for DLS, which also got 12 points and 12 rebounds from Braddock Kjellesvig and 11 points and two steals from Leo Ricketts.
De La Salle and Salesian each play one game this week before traveling next week to Southern California for The Classic at Damien, a prestigious tournament in which both Bay Area schools will compete in the top division.
If they keep winning, who knows? They could meet in the final on Dec. 30.
— Darren Sabedra
MITTY GIRLS: CHALLENGING WEEK AHEAD
Archbishop Mitty, clearly the best girls basketball team in NorCal, can prove itself to be the top program in the country over the next four days at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona.
Playing in the top bracket, Mitty could get a shot at Montverde-Florida and Long Island Lutheran-New York, the two teams ranked above the Monarchs in the MaxPreps national rankings.
Should Mitty win the TOC, and then the NorCal and state open titles, the Monarchs would have a justified claim to a mythical national championship.
A year ago in this tournament, McKenna Woliczko announced herself to the high school basketball world by averaging over 20 points per game against elite competition.
Now an five-star sophomore, she will benefit from Morgan Cheli’s passing, something the team missed during last season’s tournament after a foot injury sidelined the UConn commit.
Complemented by future Division I players Belle Bramer and Elana Weisman, Mitty has stormed to a 3-0 record and won each game by at least 30 points. The Monarchs start the tournament on Monday with a game against Miami Country Day-Florida.
Mity isn’t the only Bay Area team at the TOC. Bishop O’Dowd, Carondelet and Salesian are participating in lower brackets at the event.
— Joseph Dycus
MONTE VISTA, DUBLIN: BOYS TEAMS ON THE RISE
Monte Vista is the first boys basketball team in the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area to reach 10 victories without a defeat as the Mustangs overpowered Mt. Eden 77-21 on Saturday.
That came on the heels of victories earlier in the week over Bellarmine 48-45 and San Leandro 61-45.
But the hottest team not named DLS or Salesian might be Dublin.
Since a season-opening 63-54 loss to St. Ignatius, the Gaels have dominated eight consecutive opponents, winning by an average of 84.1 to 43.9.
Saturday, in the final of its own tournament, Dublin had a relatively close game, turning back Las Lomas 81-55.
— Darren Sabedra
EAST BAY GIRLS: WHO IS THE BEST?
With San Jose powerhouse Mitty clearly the Bay Area’s No.1 girls basketball team, where does that leave the top programs in the East Bay?
San Ramon Valley (7-1) is ranked among the top 10 teams in the state by MaxPreps and recently routed Sacred Heart Cathedral 72-52.
Amanda Kerner, Sofia Bowes and Sierra Chambers all had stellar games for an SRV team that has lost just once, to powerhouse St. Mary’s-Stockton 53-48.
Acalanes (8-1) is living up to preseason hype with an 8-1 record. The backcourt of Sophie Chinn, Dulci Vail and KK Lacanlale rightfully get most of the publicity for their explosive scoring. But it was post Ariana Hallstrom who shined in a 77-51 victory over Caruthers on Saturday with 26 points.
Like SRV, the Dons also lost to St. Mary’s-Stockton by five points (59-54).
Carondelet (7-0) will head to Arizona for the Nike TOC having won five of its seven games by at least 40 points.
Its closest victory was a 17-point win over Marin Catholic. After the TOC, Carondelet still has games against powerhouses San Ramon Valley, La Jolla Country Day and Pinewood.
— Joseph Dycus
BISHOP O’DOWD GIRLS: OAKLAND’S TOP TEAM?
It’s still early, but Bishop O’Dowd has staked an early claim to being the best team in The Town when it defeated reigning Division I state champion Oakland Tech 58-40 at the Recognize Game Classic on Saturday.
Sophomore guard Jayla Stokes scored 19 points and hit five three-pointers and Savannah Jones scored 13 points and had three assists for O’Dowd (4-1).
Meanwhile, Oakland Tech (4-6) has been shaky this season, with Cal-Hi reporting that wing Taliyah Logwood is out with an injury and the team still trying to replace graduated guards Mari Somvichian and Erin Sellers.
The Bulldogs lost to SoCal powers Winward, Etiwanda and Mater Dei-Santa Ana by double digits in the past two weeks. O’Dowd didn’t fare much better against Etiwanda, the defending state Open champion, but did defeat Winward.
— Joseph Dycus
FOOTBALL RECRUITING: RIORDAN STAR PICKS USC
Archbishop Riordan senior Kalolo Ta’aga announced on social media over the weekend that he has committed to USC.
The 6-foot-7 tackle, named a second-team all-West Catholic Athletic League selection, joined a 20-player recruiting class that is ranked 18th-best in the country by 247Sports.
“As soon as I stepped into meetings with coaches and staff, I knew those people were going to push me to be the greatest version of myself,” Ta’aga told 247Sports analyst Brandon Huffman.
Ta’aga also had offers from Utah, Arizona, California and San Jose State.
— Joseph Dycus