Here is the latest BurlisonOnBasketball SoCal Top 25

LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA – There’s just a bit more than three weeks before the start of the respective playoffs in the CIF’s Southern, L.A. City and San Diego sections.

So I figured it’s an ideal time for an updated BurlisonOnBasketball Southern California Top 25, right?

Seven of the squads in these ratings – No.’s 1 Chino Hills, 4 Bishop Montgomery, 7 Fairfax, 11 Corona Centennial, 12 Alemany, 14 Santa Margarita and 24 Santa Monica – will be on display Saturday at Cerritos College in Norwalk as part of the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview, presented by Scorebooklive.com.

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Sierra Canyon rallies to hand La Lumiere its first loss

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The high school hoops action in Springfield College’s Blake Arena Monday figured to be some of the very best of the season, anywhere.

And it proved to be every bit of that – and then some.

Three games that included a collective six 2017 McDonald’s All-Americans – and, no doubt, a few of the 2018 variety, too – gave those in the packed facility a close-up look at some of the very best teams and players in the country during the final day of the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic.

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Dandy showdowns set for HoopHall Classic Monday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Monday’s final day of the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic will feature what should be some of the better team – and matchups – of the high school season.

The “showcase” among the six games set for Monday in the Springfield College Blake Arena is the 5 p.m. (ET) clash between prep school powerhouse La Porte (IN) La Lumiere School and Southern California’s Chatsworth (in the San Fernando Valley, FYI) Sierra Canyon.

Unbeaten La Lumiere may have deepest – and most gifted – roster on the high school or prep school level this season, led by 6-foot-10 Jaren Jackson (who signed with Michigan State in November) and 6-7 swingman Brian “Tugs” Bowen (who lists Michigan State and the University of Arizona the finalists in the race for his signature on a national letter of intent in April).

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Randolph, Reddish steal Saturday HoopHall thunder

SPRINGFIELD, MA –   The finale of Saturday’s action during the 16th Spalding HoopHall Classic was nationally televised and touted as a “showdown”, of sorts, between two of the elite big men in the high school senior class.

And DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Hillcrest) and Mohammad Bamba (Westtown of Pennsylvania) did offer the crowd – those in Springfield College’s Blake Arena and those viewing on their flat screens or hand-held devices – an opportunity to watch the near-seven footers showcase their respective physical gifts.

But, ultimately, it was a couple of guys not named Ayton or Bamba who decided the outcome as Westtown outlasted Hillcrest, 66-54, in the last of six games played Saturday.

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Santa Margarita edges Roosevelt to cap Take Flight

REDONDO BEACH, Ca. – Some of Southern California’s better high school basketball teams – and players, in all classes – were on display and in full bloom Saturday during the second day of the Redondo Union High-hosted Take Flight Challenge.

In the sixth, final and showcase game of the day, Santa Margarita pulled away down stretch to knock off Eastvale Roosevelt, 70-64, in a hook-up of two squads that almost certainly will be reasonably high seeds in the CIF Southern Section’s Open Division playoff bracket.

Roosevelt was playing without one of its two-best players in University of California-bound guard Jemarl Baker, sidelined for the second consecutive game in what Coach Steve Singleton deemed a “precautionary” decision because of a swollen knee as a result of a collision in the team’s Classic at Damien Gold Division loss to Damien on Dec.

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Roosevelt-Santa Margarita clash at Take Flight

REDONDO BEACH, Ca. – The host Redondo Union Sea Hawks, along with Oakland Bishop O’Dowd and Torrance Bishop Montgomery, were the winners Friday night during the opening of the two-day, fifth annual Take Flight Challenge.

The event wraps up on Saturday, with six games that begin at noon (Compton vs. L.A. Windward) and wrap up with an 8 p.m. clash between two of the strongest squads in the CIF Southern Section, Santa Margarita and Eastvale Roosevelt.

Friday evening the squad from Oakland broke out to an big early lead as junior guard Naseem Gaskin hit all five of his first-quarter shots – the first four of those coming from the arc – against the Lynwood Knights.

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Classic at Damien rundown and all-tourney choices

LA VERNE, Ca. – The Mater Dei High Monarchs turned in a near-impeccable second half Friday night to knock off the host school’s squad, 82-63, in the Gold Division championship game of the first-ever Classic at Damien tournament.

Junior point guard Spencer Freedman was the division’s Most Valuable Player and was joined on the 18-player all-tournament team by three Mater Dei teammates, seniors Justice Sueing and Matt Weyand, and junior Harrison Butler.

Capturing the two other division championships in the 48-team event were Vista in the Silver (60-52 over Woodland Hills Taft) and Hesperia in the Bronze (38-33 over La Canada).

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Fifty-one-oh! It means Top 25 No. 1 for Chino Hills

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Ca. — The first part of the 2016-17 high school hoops season – the pre- and post-Christmas tournaments – is officially a wrap.

It’s now time to dive full-bore league campaigns with the “showcase” events scattered among them – Part II – before mid-February thru March when Part III (the playoffs) get underway.

Along with league play this week, there are a spattering of solid non-league matchups on hand, as well as “showcase events”, including the Take Flight Classic (Redondo High/Friday and Saturday), Sierra Canyon Super Showcase (Sierra Canyon High/Saturday), the Coach Dwan Hurt Cavalier Classic (Gardena Serra High/Saturday) and the Westchester Challenge (Westchester High/Saturday).

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California hoops powers to hook up in Damien semis

LA VERNE, Ca. – Four teams that have already won a collective 48 games a month into the season make up the Thursday night championship semifinal field in the Gold Division of the first-ever Classic at Damien basketball tournament.

The host Damien Spartans (14-0) faces the Eastvale Roosevelt Mustangs (7-3) at 7 o’clock, with top seed Santa Ana Mater Dei (14-1) following against Corona Roosevelt (12-2) at approximately 8:30 in Damien’s Athletic Center.

Day IV of the tournament also includes championship semifinals in the Silver and Bronze divisions.

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The scoop on Wednesday’s Damien “crossover” action

LA VERNE, Ca. – Three of the four Gold Division championship semifinalists in the first Classic at Damien Tournament won “crossover” – against teams outside of their tourney divisions – Wednesday at Damien High.

The event hosts Damien Spartans improved to 14-0 by toppling Pasadena La Salle (which is in a Bronze Division semifinal Thursday), 79-55, behind 19 points apiece from senior Justin Hemsley and junior Elijah McCullough.

The Spartans play Eastvale Roosevelt (which didn’t play a crossover – or “cross-bracket” – game) in the first Gold semifinal at 7 o’clock Thursday night.

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Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a well-regarded basketball writer who was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2005. His opinions on the potential of high school and college players are widely respected and sought by college coaches and NBA scouts, personnel directors and general managers from coast to coast. Oh, yes – he can offer plenty of thoughts on movies, television and pop music. Yes, he can rank those, too. Hint: He’s a big The Godfather, Larry Sanders, The Wire and The Beatles loyalist.

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