Open Division CIF SS Boys Preview

1 Bishop Montgomery vs 8 St. John Bosco
2 Etiwanda vs 7 Santa Margarita
3 Mater Dei vs 6 Crespi
4 Rancho Christian vs 5 Sierra Canyon (Temecula Valley HS)
All Games 7pm Friday, February 16, 2018 at Higher seed.

1 Bishop Montgomery vs 8 St. John Bosco

Bishop Montgomery Knights
Head Coach – Doug Mitchell

25-0, 8-0 Del Ray League Champions
#1 CA State Rank, #3 National
#4 – Xcellent 25 MaxPreps Ranking

Top Players
David Singleton  – UCLA
Fletcher Tynen – Boston University

The Knights have become a National powerhouse.  Going undefeated this season, after winning it all last year, is special.  Head Coach Doug Mitchell (29 years at the helm) is on the verge of another championship run, proving that teaching the game the right way excels, in a time when kids and programs may be focusing on being a bit too fancy.  The Knights’ smothering defense, who pride themselves on not giving up points in the paint, force teams to pull the trigger from mid-range and beyond. If accuracy is an issue on any given night, Bishop Montgomery usually pounces.


Because the Knights contest shots, box out and then run, they continually pressure defenses throughout the course of a game – 32 minutes you feel me.  If you’re having a cold night, it’s probably a wrap.  Next man up is their mantra, deeply ingrained into the philosophy of their ball-club. Players have been hurt all season. Nevertheless, others in the rotation have taken that as an opportunity to shine, stepping up when their number is called and in the process, keeping the Knights undefeated (40 game win streak since last season) and on the verge of another championship title run.

St. John Bosco Braves
Head Coach – Matt Dunn
21-6, 6-4 3rd Trinity League
#14 State, # 71 National

Top Players
6’4 Sr. G Alpha Okoli (ruled ineligible since Jan. 1)
6’3 Jr. G/F Joshua Adoh
6’2 Jr. G Fernando Gomez

Word on the street is that Alpha may have to sit and wait for the powers that be to decide his fate. Let’s hope he gets back into the swing of things real soon. Image taken during the Classic @ Damien 2017. Popscout

St. John Bosco looked special during the 2017 Classic @ Damien Tourney.  Alpha Okoli, who averaged 20 pts. and 8 rebs. for the month of December, has been sitting out since Jan.1, 2018 while the CIF investigated whether or not he used up his playing eligibility.  It was determined that he did, thus ruled ineligible for the rest of the season. The club is a bit small in stature, making up for it with a style of play that’s unique – providing an insight of Head Coach Matt Dunn’s coaching philosophy.  The Braves swarm and play uptempo for the majority of the game – while still showing poise by interjecting sets into the mix.  It’s been a next man up approach since January and a formidable task going up against the #1 seeded Knights of Bishop Montgomery.  St. John Bosco is hoping it comes down to that old saying…it’s why we play the game.

The Pick
Bishop Montgomery

2 Etiwanda vs 7 Santa Margarita

Etiwanda Eagles
27-1, 10-0  Baseline League Champions
#3 State, #8 National (Maxpreps)

Top Players
6’3 Sr. PG Elijah Harkless
6’7 Sr. F Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine)


The Eagles of Etiwanda, who represent the IE, do a wonderful job putting and keeping that area of SoCal on the map.  Etiwanda has been special all year long, nearly running the table with only one defeat during the regular season. Their only defeat coming during the 2017 Classic @ Damien against Open Division #4 Rancho Christian (78-54).  Pepperdine commit Sr. F 6’7 Kessler Edwards and  Sr. PG Elijah Harkless make a great 1-2 punch, allowing their squad to play at a high level, while showing the togetherness and fortitude to win close games down the stretch.  Look for this dynamic duo to continue their strong play, in hopes of catapulting the Eagles to the ‘Ship.

Santa Margarita Eagles
20-6, 7-3 Trinity league
#13 State, #61 National (Maxpreps)

Top Players:
6’7 Jr. F Jake Kyman
6’8 Jr G Max Agbonkpolo
6’8 PF Jordan Guest (Boston Univ.)

Class of 2019 Jr. G Jake Kyman hits Max Agbonkpolo on a fast break during the Culver City Fall Finale. The two will need to connect often during their Open Division match up against Etiwanda. Popscout

Santa Margarita continues to come out and play, year in and year out, playing in tournaments and showcases that allow their ball-club to truly test their level of play, from the competition they face.  This year has been no different as the Eagles played in Redondo Union’s Pac Shores, Classic @ Damien, and Take Flight hosted by Culver City.  That level of play only prepares you for battle..i.e becoming battle-tested as the season progresses.  To put things in perspective, they also play in the Trinity League – considered one of the strongest in SoCal. Head Coach Jeff Reinert hopes this strategy pays huge dividends heading into Fridays marquee match up against Etiwanda.  Since their Jan, 24 (67-49) defeat to Mater Dei, the Eagles of Santa Margarita have won 5 in a row.  Look for Jr.’s Jake and Max to provide the spark needed at the guard position while high man 6’8 Jordan Guest anchors the middle.  Barn burner indeed.

The Pick:

3 Mater Dei vs 6 Crespi

Mater Dei Monarchs
20-6, 9-1 Trinity League Champions
# 7 State, #43 National

Top Players
6’1 Sr. PG Spencer Freedman (Harvard)
6’10 Sr’ F Michael Wang (Penn)
6’6 Sr. F Harrison Butler (Southern Utah)


Mater Dei didn’t have the national firepower this year to handle teams such as University (FL), Oak Hill Academy (VA), Gonzaga (DC), and Montverde Academy (FL) – dropping L’s in all 4 games.  Coach Gary McKnight did cap another 20-game win season and Trinity League title.  Spencer Freedman has been seen dropping dimes while fine tuning his floor-general craftsmanship before taking his skill-sets to Harvard.  Look for D1 commits Harrison Butler and Michael Wang to provide the Monarchs with enough supporting cast to give Crespi and other open division teams all they can handle.  Have the Monarchs lost their magic touch?  We shall see.

Crespi Celts
25-2,12-0 Mission League Champions
#5 State, #34 National

Top Players
6’3 PG Brandon Williams (Arizona)
5’9 Sr. PG Taj Regans
6’6 Jr. G/F Kyle Owens


Talk about a guy who’s been watching Dora the Explorer (backpack, backpack) while he was off for his Jr. season. Sr 6’3 5 Star PG Brandon Williams, who’ll be shimmying in the Pac12 next season for the Wildcats of Arizona, silenced all critiques, letting Coach Miller know he’s ready for the next level.  B-Dub was special during the regular season, leading The Celts to a 12-0 Mission League title and 25-2 overall.  Coach White and his supporting cast always does a tremendous job preparing Crespi for battle.  Look for him to work the sidelines Friday night, keeping his team focused with their eyes pointed directly at a championship prize.  B-Dub will probably need his backpack for the game as he’s been seen this season time and time again putting the Celts on his back. Be special young man!

The Pick:

4 Rancho Christian vs 5 Sierra Canyon

Rancho Christian Eagles
Head Coach Ray Barefield
26-2, 10-0 South Valley league Champions
#16 State, #96 National

Top Players
6’9 Jr. G/F Isaiah Mobley
6’10 So. F  Evan Mobley
6’1 So. PG Jordan Montgomery


Rancho Christian steam-rolled through conference play, beating teams by an average of 50+ points.  Ouch!  With regular season victories over Pasadena, St. John Bosco, Foothills Christian, Oak Park, Morgan Park (IL), and Etiwanda,  Rancho Christian should be a much higher seed than a #16 State ranking per MaxPreps.  With that being said, the Mobley brothers must continue to play at a high level, this time against Star-laden Sierra Canyon and all their bells and whistles.  Look for Rancho Christian to come in with a chip on their shoulder, clogging up the middle with Evan while Isaiah does his magic on the perimeter.

Sierra Canyon Trailblazers
Head Coach Andre Chevalier
21-3, 7-0 Gold Coast League Champions
#6 State, #43 National

Top Players
6’1 Jr. PG Scottie Pippen Jr.
6’4 Sr. PG Duane Washington (Ohio State)
6’8 Jr G Cassius Stanley
6’7 F Kenyon Martin Jr.


Talk about swag.  It doesn’t get any better than Sierra Canyon who look to avenge two years of lack-luster post-season play.  1st year head Coach Andre Chevalier went 21-3 during his first campaign.  Looking at the level of play, some might consider their 2017-18 regular season schedule a bit soft, full of cream-puff opponents.  They do have solid victories over Windward, Crossroads, and Damien.  It’s time for The Trailblazers to step up and out on a big stage.  K-Mart, Lil Scottie, D.Wash, and Mr. Showtime (Cassius Stanley) himself should be licking their chops and salivating at the mouth, with their eyes glued on an Open Division Title.  Togetherness down the stretch may play a vital role in whether or not SC has what it takes to bond together and come away with the win on the road.

Worth the price of admission.

The Pick:
Sierra Canyon 

Where Legends are Born

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