Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Manny’s World: So Cal Super Early Top 20s, Coaching Changes

It’s summertime and the school year is over, time to take a break, but not for the high school sports world where there are no breaks.

The summer season doesn’t count for the most part, but this is the time where everyone wonders how the next season will go for their school or their team. Cheerleading will be added as a sport in CIF-Southern Section next school year. I am sure So Cal Sidelines will hire a rowdy cheer mom with some typing skills to cover that sport because I have no idea how to score cheerleading.

So Cal Sidelines will mainly focus on softball as well as boys basketball and football. You know where Carlos Arias will be at … he’s all over softball. Yours truly will jump back and forth from the hardwood to the gridiron, but in late July, I will join Los at the PGF national championships. After the two endless weeks of softball, it will be football season! It seems like forever, but trust me it will go by fast.

We will look into my Early Top 20 Rankings in boys basketball as well as the coaching carousel around Southern California that has happened in the last few months.

Something I will always do every summer is do a Super Early Top 20 in basketball. This will be my first one for So Cal and I did a lot of research. I also spoke with some of the big boys who have been covering hoops all year, mainly Devin Ugland, but in the end I finished my homework on my own and now I present you with my Super Early Top 20 in So Cal as well as our four So Cal Regions.


SO CAL SIDELINES SUPER EARLY SO CAL TOP 20


Bol Bol of Mater Dei of Santa Ana throws down a dunk. Photo/Mark Bausman.

1. Mater Dei of Santa Ana (Trinity) 33-3 (2016-17 Record)

The Monarchs fell in the CIF-SS Open Division finals and the CIF So Cal Regional finals to the same team, Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, but they lost Justice Sueing, who is headed to Cal, and Matthew Weyand. Mater Dei does return superstar big man Bol Bol, who will be one of the top players in the nation. Also returning is Spencer Freedman, who is committed to Harvard, and Harrison Butler. The Monarchs also have Regan Lundeen and Aiden Prukop back. Miles Brookins has graduated and will move on to LaSalle, but his little brother Matt Brookins is back and so is 6-8 big man Hunter Cope, who will be a big help if Bol Bol gets into foul trouble.

2. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (Del Rey) 31-2

So Cal Player of the year Ethan Thompson is now at Oregon State after winning the CIF-SS Open Division title and the CIF State title. Also gone is Jordan Schakel, who is at San Diego State. The Knights do return UCLA-commit David Singleton, Gianni Hunt, Fletcher Tynan, Josh Vazquez and Will Crawford. Perhaps I am not giving the Knights enough credit since the team at No. 1 did lose to them twice in the finals. It also helps to have one of the best student sections in So Cal in the Swaglet! They are my favorite to be No. 1 in our Student Section Top 20!

Marvin Bagley III of Sierra of Chatsworth takes it to the rim with authority. Photo/Mark Bausman.

3. Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (Gold Coast) 27-3

Now the Trailblazers did fall to Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the semifinals of the CIF-SS Open Division and to St. Augustine of San Diego in the first round of the CIF So Cal Regional Open Division and, yes, we know they lost four starters (Remy Martin, Cody Riley, Terrance McBride and Adam Seiko) to graduation, but they do return Marvin Bagley III, whos is one of the best players in the nation, along with his little brother, Marcus Bagley. Sierra Canyon also returns Michael Feinberg and the younger Riley, Ben, but they also add Cassius Stanley from Harvard-Westlake of Studio City.

4. Chino Hills (Baseline) 30-3

The Huskies lost Inland Empire Player of the Year LiAngelo Ball to UCLA and Eli Scott to Loyola Marymount and they lost their coach, Stephen Gilling. They have a new head coach in Dennis Latimore and they also return UCLA-commit LaMelo Ball, Onyeka Okongwu as well as Ofure Ujadughele, Daijon Davis, Will Pluma and Andre Ball. Chino Hills returns a lot, but you have to wonder if the drama around LaVar Ball will be a factor for the coach and the young men at Chino Hills, especially with the nationwide media attention he has been grabbing.

Ethan Anderson of Fairfax of LA. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

5. Fairfax of Los Angeles (Western) 26-6

Fairfax lost to Westchester of Los Angeles just once, but it was in the CIF-LACS Open Division semifinals. Fairfax also lost to Damien of La Verne in the second round of the CIF So Cal Regionals. The good news for the Lions is that they return all five starters, including Ethan Anderson. Also coming back are Jamal Hartwell, Kirk Smith, Robert McRae Shawn Booker. The bench won’t be deep, which will be a weakness.

6. Oak Park (Coastal Canyon) 23-9

The Eagles return four starters and they are beasts, including Riley Battin. The Slajchert brothers are back and the younger one, Clark, looks like the better one over big brother Wes, but they can discuss that at the dinner table. Also back is big man Ezekiel Richards. All but two players return from the bench. The Eagles should give a big scare to many in So Cal.

7. Vista (Avocado East) 28-5

The Panthers return their big three from last season’s CIF-SDS Open Division semifinalists. Jordan Hilstock, Taurus Samuels and Isaiah Morris will lead the way for Vista and will get help from a solid bench. Vista will be the top team in San Diego and there will be high expectations from the big three and the rest of the Panthers.

Elijah McCullough of Damien of La Verne takes it to the hole. Photo/Patrick Takkinen.

8. Damien of La Verne (Baseline) 31-5

The Spartans have a chance here at possibly getting a share of the Baseline League title with what they return. Of course, a lot of things have to go right. Cameron Shelton is back to lead Damien and he will also have Elijah McCullough and Austin Cook returning. Dirk Helaire will play a full year with the Spartans after jumping mid-season from La Mirada. Damien only lost two bench players, so this should have a deep roster.

9. Pasadena (Pacific) 26-8

The Bulldogs return a lot from last season’s CIF-SS Division 1A finalists and CIF So Cal Division 2 Regional finalists. Pasadena returns Bryce Hamilton, who will be a lot to handle and if you do somehow stop him, he has weapons all around him such as Lazarus Morris, Darius Brown II, Darius Mason, Davian Brown, Jesse Watkins and Kalonji West. If the pieces stay connected, the Bulldogs won’t take any runner-up trophies, but instead championship rings.

Taeshon Cherry of St. Augustine of San Diego with the jumper. Photo/Mark Bausman.

10. St. Augustine of San Diego (Western) 27-5

The defending CIF-SDS Open Division champs only return two starters, but they are Taeshon Cherry and Chibuzo Agbo. Add that with two talented 2020 players in Kimo Ferreri and the coach’s son, Luke Haupt, and the Saints could put the same scare in their opponents like they did last season. St. Augustine should not be taken lightly.

11. Etiwanda (Baseline) 21-12

The Eagles may be without Miles Oliver, but they return four starters and all but one bench player from a team that was a game away from the CIF-SS Division 1AA finals. Etiwanda will follow the lead of Kameron Edwards, Xavier Scott and Elijah Harkless. Matt Essien, Dylan Gaines and Krystian Wilson will play big roles as well, but this will be a much-improved team and that is scary.

12. Rancho Christian of Temecula (South Valley) 20-12

Isaiah Mobley and little brother Evan Mobley return for the Eagles, as well as everyone else minus one player. Rancho Christian is going to be very dangerous this upcoming winter. Rancho Christian also returns Solomon Davis, Isaiah Knox, Steven Park, Jordan Montgomery and Yousef Johnson. The Eagles should get past the CIF-SS semifinals this time around.

Miles Norris of Helix of La Mesa. Photo/East County Sports.

13. Helix of La Mesa (Grossmont-Hills) 31-6

The CIF State Division 4 finalists return one of San Diego’s best, Miles Norris. The Scots also return Jaylen Hinson, Amari Green and football star Carson Baker. Helix should make another deep run into March with a title or two by season’s end.

14. Centennial of Corona (Big VIII) 27-10

The Huskies did lose UCLA freshman Jalen Hill, Isom Butler, Paul Vilela and Gio Nelson, but they do return two 2020 studs in IE Freshman player of the year DJ Davis, Jaylen Clark, and 2019 star Legend Stamps. The big three also return Vilela’s little brother, Jon, who should provide the same help his big bro did. The Huskies will be favorites to win the Big VIII title with Roosevelt of Eastvale in rebuilding mode.

15. Crespi of Encino (Mission) 10-17

The Celts struggled last season with superstar Brandon Williams, who recently committed to Arizona, out the entire season, but he is back. Williams will also have Taj Regains back for Crespi along with Kyle Owens and Russell Strong. The Celts will be tough to stop if they stay healthy.

Jake Kyman of Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita with the drive. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

16. Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita (Trinity) 21-9

The Eagles lost some big stars like Adrease Jackson, Kaden Rasheed and Johnny Wang, but they do return Jake Kyman, Pearson Parker, Jordan Guest, Max Agbonkpolo, Ryan Evans and Munir McClain. Santa Margarita will hope to be consistent and make a deeper run in the playoffs. It will be tough to get past Mater Dei of Santa Ana in league, but they should be a big factor otherwise.

17. Taft of Woodland Hills (West Valley) 27-11

Taft returns big man Antwan January from a team that was a game away from the CIF-LACS Open Division title. Returning with January will be Kihel Clark, Khalil Haywood and Torshawn Roland. Taft only loses one starter and a bench player from last season’s squad, so expect Taft to be more dangerous than last season.

Johnny Juzang of Harvard-Westlake of Studio City. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

18. Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (Mission) 23-12

The Wolverines lose three stars to graduation that helped them take the CIF-SS Division 1A title. Ray Mueller, Ali Iken and Carter Begal are gone, but the biggest loss is Cassius Stanley, who transferred to Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth. Luckily, Johnny Juzang is back and he brings back that very talented freshman class including Terren Frank, Mason Hooks, Brase Dottin and Spencer Hubbard. Iken’s little brother, Neil Iken, should be a big help as well, but losing Stanley is a huge blow.

19. Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley (Inland Valley) 26-4

The Mustangs return Tory San Antonio from their CIF-SS Division 1AA championship team. Returning with San Antonio will be Jaxen Turner and Anthony Thomas. This should be another big year for Rancho Verde.

20. Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo (South Coast) 25-7

The defending CIF-SS Division 2A champs return their four top scorers, including All-OC team member Dawson Baker. Returning with Baker will be Grayson Beeman, Nik Lipovic and Daniel Ramsey. Nick Draper and Ethan White should step in and provide big help for Capo Valley in hopes of a repeat and a nice run in the CIF So Cal Regionals.


INLAND EMPIRE SUPER EARLY TOP 20


UCLA-commit LaMelo Ball of Chino Hills. Photo/Mark Bausman.

1. Chino Hills (Baseline) 30-3

2. Damien of La Verne (Baseline) 31-5

3. Etiwanda (Baseline) 21-12

4. Rancho Christian of Temecula (South Valley) 20-12

5. Centennial of Corona (Big VIII) 27-10

6. Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley (Inland Valley) 26-4

7. San Bernardino (Mountain Valley) 22-11

8. Cajon of San Bernardino (Citrus Belt) 23-6

9. Notre Dame of Riverside (Ambassador) 31-4

10. Roosevelt of Eastvale (Big VIII) 26-8

11. Rancho Mirage (De Anza) 28-4

12. JW North of Riverside (Inland Valley) 20-7

13. Hesperia (Mojave River) 23-7

14. Twentynine Palms (De Anza) 28-4

15. Oak Hills of Hesperia (Mojave River) 23-6

16. Redlands East Valley (Citrus Belt) 22-8

17. Ayala of Chino Hills (Palomares) 6-18

18. Colony of Ontario (Mt. Baldy) 30-6

19. Temecula Valley (Southwestern) 21-8

20. King of Riverside (Big VIII) 20-8


LOS ANGELES SUPER EARLY TOP 20


David Singleton (No. 34) of Bishop Montgomery of Torrance battles for a rebound with Mater Dei of Santa Ana’s Bol Bol in the CIF So Cal Regional Finals. Photo/Mark Bausman.

1. Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (Del Rey) 31-2

2. Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (Gold Coast) 27-3

3. Fairfax of Los Angeles (Western) 26-6

4. Oak Park (Coastal Canyon) 23-9

5. Pasadena (Pacific) 26-8

6. Crespi of Encino (Mission) 10-17

7. Taft of Woodland Hills (West Valley) 27-11

8. Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (Mission) 23-12

9. Alemany of Mission Hills (Mission) 24-6

10. Westchester of Los Angeles (Western) 24-10

11. Santa Monica (Ocean) 20-8

12. Birmingham of Lake Balboa (West Valley) 27-4

13. Long Beach Poly (Moore) 22-9

14. Brentwood School of Los Angeles (Gold Coast) 24-9

15. Heritage Christian of Northbridge (Olympic) 20-10

16. Windward of Los Angeles (Gold Coast) 23-7

17. Redondo Union of Redondo Beach (Bay) 26-7

18. Crossroads of Santa Monica (Gold Coast) 20-11

19. Los Altos of Hacienda Heights (Hacienda) 21-6

20. Chaminade of West Hills (Mission) 17-12


ORANGE COUNTY SUPER EARLY TOP 20


Spencer Freedman of Mater Dei of Santa Ana . Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

1. Mater Dei of Santa Ana (Trinity) 33-3

2. Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita (Trinity) 21-9

3. Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo (South Coast) 25-7

4. JSerra of San Juan Capistrano (Trinity) 18-12

5. Orange Lutheran (Trinity) 11-17

6. Villa Park (North Hills) 28-6

7. Corona del Mar of Newport Beach (Pacific Coast) 22-8

8. Saddleback Valley Christian of San Juan Capistrano (San-Joaquin) 24-4

9. Canyon of Anaheim (Crestview) 16-12

10. Yorba Linda (Crestview) 15-14

11. Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo (South Coast) 19-12

12. Buena Park (Freeway) 23-6

13. Los Alamitos (Sunset) 22-7

14. Laguna Beach (Orange Coast) 19-11

15. Crean Lutheran of Irvine (Academy) 23-7

16. Esperanza of Anaheim (Crestview) 30-3

17. Ocean View of Huntington Beach (Golden West) 22-7

18. Edison of Huntington Beach (Sunset) 23-5

19. Servite of Anaheim (Trinity) 10-16

20. Pacifica Christian of Newport Beach (Freelance) 24-5


SAN DIEGO SUPER EARLY TOP 20


Jordan Hilstock of Vista. Photo/@GamepointNation.

1. Vista (Avocado-East) 28-5

2. St. Augustine of San Diego (Western) 28-5

3. Helix of La Mesa (Grossmont-Hills) 31-7

4. Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista (Mesa) 23-6

5. Mission Hills of San Marcos (Avocado-East) 22-9

6. La Jolla Country Day (Coastal) 20-11

7. Foothills Christian of El Cajon (Coastal) 24-7

8. Torrey Pines of San Diego (Avocado-West) 28-5

9. Olympian of Chula Vista (South Bay) 30-4

10. Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach (Coastal) 21-11

11. Mission Bay of San Diego (Western) 19-11

12. Christian of El Cajon (Central) 19-10

13. La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad (Avocado-West) 19-11

14. Sage Creek of Carlsbad (Avocado-West) 14-18

15. Patrick Henry of San Diego (Eastern) 20-9

16. San Marcos (Avocado-East) 18-11

17. La Jolla (Eastern) 18-9

18. Carlsbad (Avocado-West) 15-15

19. Orange Glen of Escondido (Coastal) 23-10

20. Brawley (Imperial Valley) 27-8


COACHING CHANGES AROUND SO CAL


Johnny Booty (right) with his son John David Booty. Photo/AP.

We have seen several coaching changes over the spring, mainly in basketball. We do have one football coaching change that came late, but it is a great pickup and a new athletic director at a school that sounds like it is looking to get a major facelift in their athletic department. Let’s take a quick look at some of the new coaches at new locations:

Johnny Booty — Calvary Chapel of Santa Ana, athletic director

Calvary Chapel went all out in their search for a new athletic director by hiring Johnny Booty, a former Mississippi State quarterback and father of John David Booty, who was a quarterback at USC and in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. His other son, Josh Booty, was a former minor leaguer with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, but after a dismal baseball career, Booty went to LSU to play quarterback. He also played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders. He is also the father of former LSU quarterback Abram Booty, who also was the former head football coach at Sage Hill of Newport Beach in 2015.

The senior Booty was the head football coach and athletic director at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana, from 1989 to 2002, coaching all his sons in the process. Booty was also the athletic director at Calvary Baptist Academy of Shreveport from 2002 to 2012. Booty brings in experience on top of rich football blood in him. This will be a big plus for the Eagles, who have a new head football coach in Austin Smith, who was previously a quarterback coach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. Smith replaces Chris Cox, who took a coaching position at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

Calvary Chapel brought in a new superintendent this year who wanted to bring in a big name to boost the athletic side of the school. This is a good start.

Calvin Tang — Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, boys basketball

After leading Hesperia to a 61-24 record over three years with Mojave River League titles in 2016 and 2017, following a 16-50 record in the previous three years before him, Tang has left to take over at Los Osos. Tang led the Scorpions to the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals, losing by one to Twentynine Palms. Hesperia went 23-7 overall with a 10-0 record in league play.

Tang replaces David Smith, who has been the head coach since Los Osos opened in 2001. Smith coached the Grizzlies to a 13-14 overall record and a 2-8 record in a brutal Baseline League. Los Osos lost to Tustin in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2AA playoffs.

Nick Johnson — Foothill of Santa Ana, boys basketball

Johnson was promoted to head coach at Foothill on June 7. Johnson was an assistant for interim coach Jeff Gomez with the Knights last season. Gomez was filling in for Rusty Van Cleve, who suffered a stroke before the start of last season and couldn’t coach due to doctors orders. Van Cleve decided not to return and pursue other coaching opportunities. Under Van Cleve, the Knights won Sea View League titles in 2009 and 2010 followed by a Century League title in 2012 and a Crestview League title in 2015. Van Cleve also coached Foothill to CIF-SS titles in 2010 and 2015.

Johnson has some big shoes to fill at Foothill, but has plenty of experience in the varsity level. Johnson also coached at Aqua Fria of Avondale, Ariz., Pima College in Arizona and Orange High.

The Knights went 17-11 last season with a 1-5 record in the Crestview League. Foothill lost in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1AA playoffs to Calabasas.

Aaron Riekenberg — La Habra, boys basketball

One of my favorites is back as a head coach. Riekenberg spent a year as a head coach in the 2015-2016 season at Buena Park, leading them to a 25-8 overall record and a 7-3 record in the Freeway League. Riekenberg led the Coyotes to the CIF-SS Division 3AA semifinals, losing to eventual champion Oak Park. Riekenberg returned to his assistant coaching role at Buena Park with the return of Damien Farmer. Buena Park went 23-6 overall and 6-4 in the Freeway League, losing in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 2AA quarterfinals.

Riekenberg takes over for Dave Ploog, who coached at La Habra for five seasons. The Highlanders went 11-16 overall and 5-6 in the Freeway League.

Nick Sainato — El Toro of Lake Forest, boys basketball

The Todd Dixon era has ended at El Toro as he becomes the new coach at Rancho Santiago Canyon College of Orange after 22 seasons as head coach of the Chargers where he went 449-158 with 10 league titles and three CIF-SS finals appearances. Dixon was a favorite of mine and was helpful towards me when it came to information.

Sainato comes from Clovis West of Fresno where he was an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles for 11 years. Clovis West went 25-5 overall and 8-2 in the Tri-Rivers League. The Golden Eagles lost to Bullard of Fresno in the first round of the CIF-Central Section Division I playoffs.

The Chargers went 18-10 overall and 3-5 in the South Coast League. El Toro lost to Corona del Mar of Newport Beach in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1A playoffs.

Michael Echaves — Troy of Fullerton, football

According to our very own Ed Norwood, Michael Echaves has left Godinez of Santa Ana to take over at Troy. Echaves replaces Kevin Hastin, who left to take over the head coaching position at Newberg of Oregon. Hastin coached Troy to a 32-21 record in five seasons as head coach.

Echaves went 14-10 in two seasons as head coach at Godinez, including a Orange Coast League title last season. He coached the Grizzlies to back to back CIF-SS quarterfinal appearances. Before Echaves took over at Godinez, the Grizzlies went 0-10.

(NOTE: Report news and notes to So Cal Sidelines writer Manny Alvarez via email (mannyalvarez02@gmail.com), text (714-234-8506) or Tweet (@SoCalSidelines))

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