RIVERSIDE, Calif. - With three weeks remaining in the regular season, San Francisco City College remains the state’s top ranked team in this week’s California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association poll. However, it is no longer unanimous as Fresno City College stole a No. 1 vote. For the most part, this week’s poll is a mirror to last week’s poll. There was some movement in the bottom of the poll as Copper Mountain, a first-year program, fell out of the Top 20 after slipping into a tie for fourth place in the Orange Empire Conference. The Fightin’ Cactus’ fall opened the door for Saddleback, anther OEC member to climb into the 20th slot.
1. San Francisco (6-0, 22-1) — San Francisco has won its last 18 games, finishing the first round of conference play undefeated. With three weeks of the regular season remaining it appears the Rams are headed for yet another No. 1 regional ranking. San Francisco hosts Chabot and then visits #10 Foothill.
2. San Diego City (5-0, 24-2) — The Knights have won a college-record 17 straight games headed into the second round of conference play. Grossmont, ranked No. 15 in Southern California, is a game behind San Diego City. The Griffins, who lost to the Knights 96-67, gets its final shot at San Diego City and a conference title on next week. This week, the Knights only have to worry about getting past 1-18 Cuyamaca. The Coyotes snapped an 18-game losing streak last Saturday when they beat Imperial Valley, 75-73.
3. Fresno City (8-0, 20-3) — Fresno managed to wrestle away from San Francisco a vote for No. 1, but it wasn’t enough to move the Rams this week. Since January 20, the Rams have put on an offensive show, scoring 382 points in its last three games. For those without a calculator in your head that is 127.3 scoring average. In consecutive games, Fresno scored 140-plus points twice. Despite all of the baskets and noise, the Rams still only lead the conference race by a game. Columbia is a game back and West Hills is just two games with eight games to play. This week, the Rams, who have won 14 straight, hosts Sequoias (Wednesday) before getting Columbia at home. The last time these two teams met, Fresno won 78-75.
4. San Bernardino Valley (5-0, 21-4) — San Bernardino Valley successfully steamrolled the conference opposition, finishing the first round of conference undefeated. The Wolverines, winners of eight straight, finishes the month 8-0. The Wolverines will play three of its final five games on the road, including Friday when Palomar host San Bernardino Valley.
5. Citrus (5-0, 22-3) — Citrus has won 19 of its last 20 games, including 8 straight. The Owls won all five of their conference games and only one was decided by less than 10 points. So, odds are, second round won’t be much of challenge as Citrus moves on the Western State-East title. Citrus plays three of its next five remaining games on the road, starting on Saturday when the Owls visit Los Angeles Valley.
6. Butte (5-0, 18-3) — Butte plays three of its remaining games at home, where the Roadrunners are a perfect 6-0. Butte, winners of seven straight, begin the week with a half-game lead on second-place Shasta. However, that will be addressed this week when Shasta visits Butte in a game that could conclude this conference race. Their last meeting went into overtime where Butte escaped 89-86. The Roadrunners also need to travel to Redwoods on Wednesday before getting to its showdown with Shasta on Saturday.
7. Santa Rosa (11-0, 18-4) – Santa Rosa is riding a 14-game win streak and it appears there is nothing the Cubs can’t overcome. With five games remaining, Santa Rosa holds a 2 ½ game lead over Modesto. The Cubs will play their next three games on the road, including Saturday’s game at Modesto, which could seal the deal for the Big 8 Conference title. The Cubs will also visit Sacramento City on Wednesday.
8. Cerritos (4-0, 19-4) — Wednesday’s home game against Long Beach City will conclude the first round of conference for Cerritos. But, more importantly, a win over the Vikings would give the Falcons a two-game lead in the race for conference title. Cerritos, winners of five straight, begins the week a game up on Long Beach. The Falcons will also play four of their final six games at home, a plus for Cerritos.
9. Orange Coast (6-1, 15-7) — Orange Coast, winners of six straight, is sure making us look foolish. The Pirates have everyone talking as they inch closer and closer to winning the Orange Empire Conference title. Last week, Orange Coast edged Copper Mountain, 66-64, knocking the Fightin’ Cacti out of the state 20 and then exacted revenge on Irvine Valley, the only team to beat the Pirates in conference play. The Pirates have five games remaining, three on the road. This week, Orange Coast visits Cypress and then returns home to take on Santiago Canyon. Currently, the Pirate hold a one-game lead over Fullerton and 1 ½ over #20 Saddleback. Ironically, next week the Pirates visit Saddleback and then host Fullerton. Surely, the Pirates can’t survive a game string vs. Santiago Canyon, Saddleback and Fullerton?
10. Foothill (6-1, 17-6) — Foothill begins the week a half game out of first place in the Coast-North Conference. The bad news is the Owls trail San Francisco. To make matters worse, Foothill has Canada breathing down its next for second place. For now, Foothill can concentrate on San Francisco which they host on Friday after visiting Los Positas on Wednesday. Foothill is 9-1 in its last 10 games with its lone loss being — San Francisco (tough guess, huh). A loss to San Francisco and Foothill have better start looking in the rearview mirror.
11. East Los Angeles (3-1, 18-5) — East Los Angeles’ title hopes, for the moment, rest in Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday. The Huskies trail Chaffey by one game. A loss to Chaffey on Wednesday would be detrimental to East Los Angeles’ title hopes. East Los Angeles has six games remaining, two being against first-place Chaffey. Since its shocking loss to Mt. San Antonio, the Huskies have outscored its last two opponents 190 to 117. Did the Mounties awake the Huskies? Find out Wednesday.
12. Fullerton (5-2, 16-6) — As the defending Orange Empire Conference champions, it is hardly a time for Fullerton to begin panicking. The Hornets begin the week a game behind #3 Orange Coast in the race for the title. All Fullerton has to do to get Orange Coast is beat Irvine Valley at home on Wednesday and then beat #20 Saddleback in Mission Viejo. Friday’s game will pit coach vs. player once again. Coach stands 5-2 all-time including a 62-61 win in Fullerton a couple weeks ago. Wednesday’s game will be the only meeting between Irvine Valley and Fullerton, and keep in mind it was the Lasers who beat Orange Coast. What a great week to be a basketball fan!
13. Yuba (10-1, 18-5) — Yuba, winners of nine straight, begins the week with a 2 ½ game lead on Napa Valley in the race for the conference title. With five games remaining it is a pretty sure bet that Yuba will win this year’s Bay Valley Conference title. Yuba hosts Contra Costa on Friday in its only action this week.
14. Gavilan (5-1, 19-2) — Gavilan begins the week with a half-game lead over Cabrillo, winners of five straight. Cabrillo already has a win over Gavilan, so the February 7 meeting in Cabrillo looms large. However, to get to February 7, Gavilan first must get by West Valley on Wednesday and then De Anza. Both of Gavilan’s previous two meetings with these two teams were decided by less than 10 points.
15. Columbia (7-1, 13-5) — Winners of five straight, Columbia continues to pressure Fresno for the right to be the Central Valley Conference champion. The Claim Jumpers trails Fresno by one game and have already lost to the Rams. So, that makes the next meeting just that much bigger for Columbia. And they won’t have to wait long as the Claim Jumpers pay Fresno a visit on Saturday, after hosting Reedley on Wednesday.
16. West Hills (6-2, 15-4) — Another Central Valley Conference team, West Hills trails Columbia by one game and Fresno City by two. At this point, second place is looking better than third. West Hills hosts Merced and then travels to Porterville this week. However, February 7 (vs. Fresno) and February 14 (vs. Columbia) looms on the horizon.
17. Ventura (4-0, 16-7) — With Copper Mountain falling into fifth place in the Orange Empire Conference, it opened the door for Ventura to climb in this week’s poll. The Pirates of Ventura begin the week atop the Western State-North, holding a one-game lead on Allan Hancock and two-game lead over Cuesta (preseason favorite) and Moorpark. And, as luck would have it, Ventura hits the road this week for contests vs. Cuesta (Wednesday) and Allan Hancock (Saturday). In fact, Ventura and Cuesta will do battle two over the course of the Pirates next three games. Still a lot to be decided on the floor here.
18. Chaffey (4-0, 16-7) — Chaffey begins the week with a one-game lead over Mt. San Antonio and East Los Angeles. The Panthers have beaten Mt. San Antonio, but two games remain with East Los Angeles, including one Wednesday in Rancho Cucamonga. The Panthers also face Mt. San Antonio at home on Friday, so Chaffey could be up three games come Saturday morning or even a game behind in the race for the conference title. Chaffey’s title hopes lay at its feet.
19. Modesto (8-2, 15-7) — Modesto is two and half games behind in the race for the Big 8 Conference title, with six games to play. Any loss down the stretch will doom the Pirates’ title hopes. Might it be time to play for second place? Modesto holds a two-game lead over San Joaquin Delta for second place. And, as luck would have it, Modesto visits Delta on Tuesday in a must-win game for the Mustangs. Friday, Modesto also travels, taking on Sierra.
20. Saddleback (4-2, 12-10) — A familiar face makes a return to the state top 20 as Saddleback lands the final spot in this week’s poll edging out two other Orange Empire Conference members — Santiago Canyon and Copper Mountain, which finds itself outside the Top 20 for the first time this season. Saddleback which begins the week 2 ½ games behind Orange Coast, a game behind second-place Fullerton and a half game ahead of Santiago Canyon and 1 ½ games in front of Copper Mountain — all with six games remaining. This week, Saddleback travels to Santa Ana before returning home to take on Fullerton in a key conference games. Next week, the Gauchos get Orange Coast and Riverside at home before finishing the season with road contests with Irvine Valley and Copper Mountain. The OEC race continues to be one of the best in the state with six teams all within striking distance of Orange Coast.
(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)
1. San Francisco
2. Fresno City
4. Santa Rosa
9. West Hills
12. Napa Valley
15. Sacramento City
Others: Sequoias, San Joaquin Delta, Los Medanos, Canada, Feather River
1. San Diego City
2. San Bernardino Valley
5. Orange Coast
6. East Los Angeles
11. Santiago Canyon
12. Copper Mountain
13. San Diego Miramar
14. Mt. San Antonio
Others: Long Beach City, Palomar, Allan Hancock, West LA