Two Santa Clarita Valley boys basketball teams were named to the CIF-Southern Section preseason rankings: one that is looking to rebound, and another that is looking to continue building.
The first is Saugus High, which is ranked No. 11 in Division 2A, and the second is Santa Clarita Christian, the No. 5 team in Division 5AA.
The Centurions finished 12-15 overall last season, going 3-7 in Foothill League play with no postseason appearance.
So far this season, they’ve gone 3-1, with their most recent victory in the Heritage Christian Tournament third-place game against Crescenta Valley.
“For our kids … in changing a culture, early success is good,” said coach Bill Bedgood. “Last year we got off to a slow start and it kind of had the kids doubting themselves, doubting our direction. So I think the positive start has got the guys feeling a little bit better about themselves.”
Zach Phipps scored 28 points in that third-place game and was selected to the all-tournament team. Anthony McIntyre followed close behind with 20 points.
The Cardinals are undefeated so far this season, going a perfect 4-0. Last season, the team finished 19-5 overall and made it to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 5A playoffs.
“It’s really a testament to what we’ve been trying to do in terms of running the program and building it the right way,” said coach James Mosley. “I think that says a lot to the kids who have a come here and want to work hard and the coaching staff.”
Justin Collins, a sophomore, is expected to make some noise in the Heritage League this season. In his last game against Desert Christian, he tallied 29 points.
“He’s grown a lot since last year in his ability to handle the ball, and I’m excited to see what big things are going to come from him,” Mosley said. “He’s a big part of what makes us go.”
SCCS will not play its next game until Jan. 7 when it takes on Lutheran High of La Verne.
Reigning Foothill League champion Valencia High earned the No. 12 spot in Division 1AA. The Vikings are 8-2 so far this year, recently defeating Canyon High, 46-45, to win the Burroughs tournament championship.
Kayla Konrad’s 17 points in the victory earned her tournament MVP honors.
Golden Valley was ranked No. 14 in Division 3A. Led by first-year head coach Galbert Connor, the Grizzlies are 4-3.
It’s a young team overall. Connor told The Signal two weeks ago that six of his 11 players will be playing varsity basketball for the first time.
In Division 6, Santa Clarita Christian was named No. 2. Standing undefeated at 4-0, the Cards have seven returners and all five of last year’s starters on the court.
The Cardinals’ rival, Trinity Classical Academy, earned a place of its own in the Division 5A rankings at No. 7.
In their past two games, the Knights have won by an average of 42 points. Collectively, they are 4-1 this season.