3:00 – Rolling Hills Prep Huskies (CA) vs. Rancho Mirage Rattlers (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Huskies have played with remarkable consistency and efficiency while rolling to a 16-1 start in Harvey Kitani’s first season as the program’s head coach. They might not get a tougher test than this one until 5AA CIF Southern Section playoffs championship game (they’re top-ranked).
Frank Burlison Says: The Rattlers take a 24-3 record into this game while being led by guard Charles Neal, an all-CIF Southern Selection as a junior. They are third in the CIF 3AA rankings behind 1-2 Crossroads and Saddleback Valley Christian.
4:30 – Saddleback Valley Christian Warriors (CA) vs. Servite Friars (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: Coached by Tommy Lewis – a CIF SS Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American at Mater Dei in 1985 – the Warriors are 21-3 with a lot of impressive parts in the machination. Among those are senior guard Trey Smith and 6-9 junior Jordan Taylor.
Frank Burlison Says: The Friars’ sub-par overall record (10-13) is due to their arduous Trinity League schedule (where they’ve won just one of eight games). But that lone Trinity win came Tuesday night at home in Anaheim, when they toppled Orange Lutheran, 68-61.
6:00 – Mater Dei Monarch Girls (CA) vs. Palisades Dolphins Girls (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Monarchs’ boys program gets most of the regional – and national – hyperbole. But the girls’ program, coached by Kevin Kiernan, performs at an elite level, as well. The Monarchs are 17-6 and haven’t lost since Dec. 20.
Frank Burlison Says: The Dolphins, a power on the L.A. City Section level, are 21-6 and in possession of a nine-game winning streak in which they have outscored foes by about 40 points an outing.
7:30 – Oak Hill Warriors (VA) vs. Foothills Christian Knights (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: Coach Steve Smith brings his program to the event again with a tremendous foursome of guards (all headed to high-major NCAA-affiliated programs), The Warriors also have yet another McDonald’s All-American in 6-9 Billy Preston, who is bound for the University of Kansas
Frank Burlison Says: This program was in this event a year ago (where it was beaten by Mater Dei before turning tables on the Monarchs in the first round of the State Southern Open Regionals). Their 2016 McDonald’s All-American, forward T.J. Leaf, wears a UCLA for now. But the Knights have a 2017 McD’s AA in guard Jaylen Hands – will likely replace Lonzo Ball in the Bruins’ lineup next season since Ball is bound for the NBA Draft on June 22.
9:00 – Mater Dei Monarchs vs. Village Christian Crusaders
Frank Burlison Says: As 7-1 junior Bol Bol continues to integrate into the Monarchs’ lineup and their way of playing basketball, he could provide a very big “x factor” for them heading into the Southern Section Open playoffs for the fourth year in a row. Gary McKnight’s team is 24-1 with the only loss coming to unbeaten Chino Hills in the Tarkanian Classic final on Dec. 20.
Frank Burlison Says: The 14-9 Crusaders have multiple quality players, notably senior guard Jalen Riley, junior forward Jordan Starr (who played as a lot as a sophomore at Foothills Christian before moving from San Diego with his family when his dad, Kevin Starr, was hired as the head coach at the Masters College in Santa Clarita) and 6-4 sophomore Elijah Scranton.
8:30am – JSerra Lions (CA) vs. Dos Pueblos (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The addition of 6-10 junior Joel Mensah and a another junior, guard J.T. Robinson (transfers who became eligible on Jan. 3), to go with a group also led by Princeton-forward Sebastian Much, has propelled Coach Zach Brogdon’s team into a CIF SS Open contender. The Lions hung tough Wednesday night against Mater Dei before the Monarchs pulled away down the stretch.
Frank Burlison Says: The 19-3 Chargers (No. 2 in the SS 2A rankings) have lost only to Capistrano Valley (76-74 on Jan. 16) in their past 14 games. One of their two other losses came to Mater Dei on their opening night of the season.
10:00am – Capistrano Valley Cougars (CA) vs. St. John Bosco Braves (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: Brian Mulligan (son of the legendary late and great Bill Mulligan) has a team (at 19-5) that appears to be his best in several seasons. The Cougars are led by one of the better juniors in Orange County in 6-3 Dawson Baker.
Frank Burlison Says: The 14-11 Braves (who opened the Corona del Mar-hosted Beach Bash Tournament to open the season) beat Capistrano, 67-61, when the teams met on Dec. 17 during the North Orange County Tournament at Sonora High.
11:30am – Los Alamitos Griffins (CA) vs. Villa Park Spartans (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Griffins (16-6 going into a Friday night Sunset League game at Marina) are led by 6-7 junior Jacob Eyman, who is also a volleyball standout, as well as 5-10 Joseph Riley – who played three times in this event when he attended Orange Lutheran.
Frank Burlison Says: The Ball Brothers of Chino Hills don’t make up the only top-flight “Brother Combination” in the event. Senior Myles Franklin (who signed with Northeastern University in November) and Julien Franklin – one of the best sophomores in Orange County – give Coach Kevin Reynolds 16-6 team a superb 1-2 sibling punch.
1:15 – Centennial Huskies (CA) vs. Los Altos Conquerors (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Huskies, led by UCLA-bound center Jalen Hill, are 19-7 and expected to make it 4 for 4 on CIF Southern Section Open Division playoff appearances in a week. They’re going to be without a key player for however the rest of their season last as UC Davis-bound Gio Nelson suffered a severe knee injury Tuesday night.
Frank Burlison Says: Coach Jeff Lucas’ squad is top-ranked in the CIF SS 1A and took a 19-3 record into its Hacienda League game at rival Chino Friday night. The team’s best player is 6-3 Jarod Lucas, one of the elite sophomores in Southern California and, yes, the son of Conquerors’ head coach.
2:45 – Fairfax Lions (CA) vs. Santa Margarita Eagles (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Lions (20-2 before a Western League game against LACES Friday night) are coached by Steve Baik, who was at the helm of the Lonzo Ball-led Chino Hills-led team that that beat Westchester and Bishop Gorman in the past two Nike Extravaganzas and went unbeaten last season. Junior Jamal Hartwell is the Lions’ top scorer.
Frank Burlison Says: The Eagles (18-5), after an impressive come-from-behind win over Corona Centennial last weekend during the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview at Cerritos College, can further strength their CIF SS Open Division playoff seed with a win against the Lions.
4:15 – Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (CA) vs. Orange Lutheran Lancers (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Jackrabbits (17-6 before a Moore League game at Jordan Friday night) have won 16 of their past 19 games with the only losses in that stretch to No. 1 L.A. City Birmingham along with Chino Hills and Damien. They have quite the 1-2 post presence in 6-6 Zafir Williams (he signed with LMU in November) and 6-9 Myles Johnson.
Frank Burlison Says: The Lancers (11-14) of Coach Chris Nordstrom have one of the better jump shooters in all of California prep basketball by way of 6-3 senior Chris Williams. They’re trying to snap a six-game losing streak.
5:45 – Bishop Gorman Gaels (NV) vs. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Gaels of Coach Grant Rice are mainstays in this event and will be represented by their fifth McDonald’s All-American – 6-5 Charles O’Bannon Jr., whose father and uncle were also McD AAs before going onto UCLA. The younger O’Bannon is USC, though, which should make for some interesting family dynamics.
Frank Burlison Says: With a starting lineup chock-full of future NCAA Division I players, Coach Ty Nichols’ Trailblazers are 21-1 going to the game with the Gaels and will be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the CIF SS Open Division playoff bracket next week.
7:15 – Mater Dei Monarchs (CA) vs. Saint Augustine Saints (CA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Monarchs, led by junior point guard Spencer Freedman and senior forward Justice Sueing, are home wins against Santa Margarita (Tuesday) and Orange Lutheran (Thursday) from pulling off another 10-0 Trinity League effort.
Frank Burlison Says: The 20-3 Saints, led by 6-8 junior Taeshon Cherry, get a rematch with the team that handed them their first loss of the season. Mater Dei prevailed, 86-62, when the teams met on Dec 3 at Mission Viejo High during the final game of the Diablo Inferno.
8:45 – Chino Hills Huskies (CA) vs. Oak Hill Warriors (VA)
Frank Burlison Says: The Huskies had scored 100 or more points 13 times before their Baseline League game at Upland Friday. Their showdown with Oak Hill is why the Saturday afternoon and evening session of games sold out so rapidly.
Frank Burlison Says: The Warriors lost only one game last season. And that’s why Chino Hills – and not Oak Hill – finished atop the national ratings. Can the Warriors “slow down” the Huskies? Or will they attempt to just “out-run them”?