Riding a 13-game win streak, Fullerton continues to hold the state's top ranking

Fullerton owns a 15-1 overall record.
Fullerton owns a 15-1 overall record.

RIVERSIDE - Fullerton, winners of 13 straight games, remains the state's top ranked team in the California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Association Poll. The Hornets, who open Orange Empire Conference play this week, edged San Francisco by 7 points in winning the top ranking. The top four teams in the poll garnered 414 points or more with 118 points seperating Fullerton and No. 5 Fresno City. Forth-five teams received at least one vote in this week's poll. A poll will be conducted each week now as three more conferences begin play this week. 

Here is a breakdown of this week's poll: 

1. Fullerton (15-1, 13 first-place votes, 493 points) — Since losing to Citrus on November 9, the Hornets have run off 13 consecutive wins. And three of those wins have come against the likes of Mt. San Jacinto, Cerritos and Citrus. And, those games were the only games were decided by eight points or less. Fullerton will play four of its first six Orange Empire Conference game at home. Another benefit for the Hornets is that they will only see Riverside, Santiago and Saddleback once in conference play. Fullerton gets 3-13 Irvine Valley, 6-10 Santa Ana, 11-5 Cypress (30th in Massey Ranking) and 10-6 Copper Mountain (37th in Massey Ranking), twice.

2. San Francisco (15-1, 7, 486) — It has been a quiet three weeks for San Francisco. Since losing on December 16, the Rams have played just one game — a 17-point rout of Gavilan. San Francisco kicks off Coast-North play on Wednesday against 6-10 Skyline. As of now, the Rams will meet just one ranked team (Canada at 18) during division play and only two teams with records above .500 — Canada at 13-3 and Las Positas at 11-3.

3. Cerritos (12-2, 428) — Cerritos, winners of four straight, including a nine-point victory over East Los Angeles, has three remaining nonconference contests remaining before opening South Coast-South play. The Falcons hosts No. 16 Chaffey on Wednesday before visiting Rio Hondo and No. 14 LA Trade Tech (Jan. 16). The division appears to be a battle between Cerritos and No. 6 Long Beach City, but 9-5 Compton could have a say.

4. Mt. San Jacinto (13-2, 414) — Mt. San Jacinto had its eight-game win streak snapped when No. 10 Southwestern beat the Eagles, 102-99, at home on Saturday. Mt. San Jacinto fell behind by 13 at half, but the Jaguars were able to hold off the Eagles down the stretch. The Pacific Coast-North will be a dogfight with the likes of No. 13 San Bernardino Valley, 11-7 San Diego Miramar and 9-8 MiraCosta. Before getting to division play, Mt. San Jacinto faces a dangerous San Diego City (9-8) team in San Diego (Wednesday) and travels to No. 12 Citrus on January 15.

5. Fresno City (11-3, 375) — The Central Valley race is shaping up to be a disappointment. Fresno has won 17 consecutive conference titles (a state and national record) and figures to add No. 18 in 2019. Entering the week, only one other program has a record above .500 — Columbia, which comes in at No. 18 this week, but just 33rd in the Massey Ranking. Fresno City is off to a 2-0 start in conference, highlighted by a 114-point performance against West Hills-Lemoore. This week, the Rams travel to West Hills-Coalinga and then hosts Cerro Coso. On January 16, Columbia travels to Fresno for a must-win event if Columbia wants a shot at the conference crown.

6. Long Beach City (12-2, 342) — Despite its shocking loss to Imperial Valley (82-81 on December 7), the Vikings find themselves in the top 10, climbing six slots from the last poll. Since losing to Imperial Valley on a tip-in at the buzzer, Long Beach City has run off three consecutive wins, including a 77-73 victory over No. 15 Chaffey. The Vikings will continue nonconference play, hosting Rio Hondo and then visiting No. 14 LA Trade Tech on Saturday.

7. East Los Angeles (11-3, 340) — East Los Angeles is riding a four-game win streak after falling to Cerritos on December 21 by nine points. The Huskies appear to have quite the battle on their hands in the South Coast-South with two teams ranked in the top 20 (LA Trade Tech and Chaffey). East Los Angeles, which has four remaining nonconference contests, visits LA Southwest and hosts LA Harbor this week. The Huskies will close out nonconference play on January 18 with a road game at Long Beach City after hosting Compton on Wednesday in what could be another good battle.

8. Gavilan (14-2, 335) — Gavilan had a nine-game win streak snapped last Friday when San Francisco scored a 19-point victory over the Rams. The good news is Gavilan begins the week as a slight favorite over No. 20 Cabrillo for the Coast-South title thanks to its No. 12 Massey Ranking. In its only game this week, Gavilan opens division play on Wednesday at home against Hartnell. Next week, Gavilan is poised for the first of two showdowns with Cabrillo.

9. Allan Hancock (14-2, 317) — Allan Hancock has won seven straight games since losing to Cerritos by seven points on December 8. The Bulldogs, ranked 13th in the Massey Rankings, host Hartnell on Saturday in its only game this week. Allan Hancock figures to be challenged by Cuesta for the Western State-North title when division games begin on January 19.

10. Southwestern (12-4, 300) — Southwestern, thanks to its road win over Mt. San Jacinto, got a bump in the poll this week, climbing four slots. Since losing two of three, the Jaguars have run off three straight wins. This week, Southwestern visits Palomar and hosts MiraCosta in conference conference-crossover contests. The road to a division crown lies with San Diego City. Can San Diego City, losers of three of its last five, find their knight in shining armor? The Knights have lost once to Southwestern, but it was a barn-burner, 84-78 in overtime.

11. Santa Rosa (12-3, 255) — Santa Rosa, the favorite in the Big 8 Conference, climbs a couple slots this week after posting five consecutive wins, including three in conference play. One of the wins was over San Joaquin Delta, a team thought to battle the Cubs for the conference title. Santa Rosa also has beaten Sacramento City, another possible contender for the title. This week, Santa Rosa travels to 7-9 Cosumnes River and hosts 6-10 Sierra.

12. Citrus (10-5, (235) — Since losing three consecutive games, the Owls have run off four straight wins. Citrus has three remaining nonconference games, including two road contests this week — Ventura (Tuesday) and West LA (Friday). The Owls close out their nonconference schedule by hosting No. 4 Mt. San Jacinto on January 15. Citrus appears to the odds-on favorite for the West State-East title. The Owls are one of only two teams with records better than .500 (LA Valley at 9-8).

13. San Bernardino Valley (11-5, 230) — San Bernardino Valley, winners of four straight, figures to be part of that four-team race for the Pacific Coast-North division. The Wolverines, who are just 6-4 in their last 10 games, visits Moorpark Wednesday and host Santa Monica Saturday before opening division play against San Diego Miramar, a team San Bernardino Valley defeated previously by 23 points, on January 18.

14. LA Trade Tech (11-2, 211) — LA Trade Tech climbs three slots this week as the Beavers continue to impress. LA Trade Tech is riding an 11-game win streak, the second best in the state at the moment (Fullerton on a 13-game win streak). With a Massey Ranking of 16, LA Trade Tech figures to battle with East LA and Chaffey for its division title. The Beavers haven’t lost since November 8 when they opened the season with consecutive losses. Their schedule gets a more challenging in the coming weeks, including a road contest on Wednesday against 9-5 Compton, then Friday vs. No. 6 Long Beach City and next Wednesday against No. 3 Cerritos.

15. Chaffey (9-5, 191) — Chaffey remains in the Top 20 despite losing its last two games. Of course, the losses came against Citrus (by four) and Long Beach City (by four). But the losses did happen at home. It may have been Chaffey’s 11th ranking in Masesy that saved its Top 20 ranking. Chaffey faces another challenge on Wednesday when the Panthers travel to Norwalk to face off against No. 3 Cerritos.

16. Riverside (11-5, 168) – Looks like Riverside might have found its game, winning five straight — highlighted by wins over San Bernardino Valley and Cuesta. Previously, the Tigers hadn’t been so fierce, although, their losses read like a Top 20 who’s who list (Long Beach, Citrus, Mt. San Jacinto). No. 1 Fullerton will try to add its name to the list when the Tigers travel to the Hornet’s Nest on Wednesday.

17. Canada (13-3, 165) — Headed into conference play, Canada has won five of its last six and nine of its last 11. Normally, that would be a testament to your chances in conference. Unfortunately, San Francisco is a member of the Coast-North. Canada figures to battle for second place with Las Positas, the only other program in the division with a record better than .500. It won’t be long before Canada’s knows its conference title chances as they host San Francisco (Friday) after hosting 7-9 Chabot (Wednesday).

18. Columbia (11-3, 162) — Columbia begins the week in a dead heat with Fresno City at 2-0 conference and 11-3 overall. This week, the Claim Jumpers hosts West Hills-Coalinga in its only game. Next week, however, Columbia has a three-game week, including a showdown in Fresno on Wednesday.

19. Santiago Canyon (11-5, 135) — Santiago Canyon, winners of nine of its last 10 games, opens Orange Empire Conference play on Wednesday when the Hawks hosts 10-6 Copper Mountain. Santiago Canyon is one of five teams in conference that begins the week with 10 wins or more. The Hawks face a two-week stretch of having to face Copper Mountain, Riverside and Saddleback.

20. Cabrillo (11-4, 130) — Cabrillo lands the final spot in this week’s Top 20. The Seahawks open Coast-South play this week with road contests against 0-15 San Jose and 7-8 Hartnell . Cabrillo, which had its eight-game win streak stopped by Allan Hancock, figures to battle Gavilan for the division title.

Northern California
1. San Francisco
2. Fresno City
3. Santa Rosa
4. Canada
5. Columbia
6. Cabrillo
7. Las Positas
8. Yuba
9. San Joaquin Delta
10. American River
11. Mendocino
12. Sequoias
13. West Valley
14. Alameda
15. Butte

Southern California
1. Fullerton
2. Cerritos
3. Mt. San Jacinto
4. Long Beach City
5. East Los Angeles
6. Allan Hancock
7. Southwestern
8. Citrus
9. San Bernardino Valley
10. LA Trade Tech
11. Chaffey
12. Riverside
13. Santiago Canyon
14. Cuesta
15. West Los Angeles

(Robert Schmidt, CCCMBCA)