There's no question about it, as the Monarchs are the best team in the division (and perhaps the state). Head coach Gary McKnight has at least three future Pac-10 players on this team, including Keala King (Arizona State), Gary Franklin (Cal) and Tyler Lamb (UCLA). 6-foot-6 guard Max Hooper isn't too far behind the talented trio, as he's receiving interest from schools like Stanford and Notre Dame. With big wins against nationally recognized schools like DeMatha Catholic in Maryland and Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, the Monarchs have experience playing teams that are better than any team they'll face in the Division 1AA playoffs. Anything less than a CIF championship will be a huge disappointment for the team.
Yeah, they're the No. 2 seed. But Long Beach Poly gets sleeper status because everyone in this division is looking up at Mater Dei. The Jackrabbits might have the best shot at shocking the Southern California high school sports world. They have a great basketball player in Ryan Anderson, a future D-1 star in freshman forward Roschon Prince and a great floor leader in point guard Alexis Moore. Both Anderson and Moore were honored as co-MVPs of the competitive Moore League. Even if Poly can't knock down the door this year, they'll have a great shot in 2011, as all three players return.
The Griffins won 21 games during the regular season and have a great overall player in guard James Walker III, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. But Los Al draws the unenviable task of playing the Monarchs in the quarter finals. Mater Dei's backcourt combination of King, Franklin and Lamb will bottle up Walker and end the Eagles' season in all likelihood.
The Lakewood Lancers played in one of the toughest leagues in California, as there are no easy games in the Moore League. That experience could serve the Lancers well, as the team could very easily get past its first round game against Redlands before facing the No. 4 seed in Rancho Verde. An upset of the Mustangs is unlikely, but not improbable, as Lakewood's senior guards Jared Garber and Jonathan Snagg can both go off and fill up the stat sheet on any given night.
Player to Watch
Long Beach Poly's freshman phenom Roschon Prince got his chance to start when Shelton Boykin (Long Beach State) went down with a wrist injury. Prince hasn't disappointed with the opportunity he's been given, as he's averaged over 10 points per game since the injury. Head coach Sharrief Metoyer thinks Prince has all the makings of a college star. For now, he'll be the key to a high school team that has the best chance of knocking off Mater Dei in the CIF playoffs.
Matchup to Watch
No. 2 Poly vs. No. 1 Mater Dei David against Goliath. This is what makes playoff basketball so special. Need we say more?
The Monarchs are too talented and too well coached to fall in the divisional playoffs. Mater Dei 78, Poly 60.