Every week during the basketball season, we will be publishing our take on the top ten boys and girls basketball teams in San Francisco. This is our preseason list and we will update the rankings again in December. Feel free to make your own rankings and discuss ours in the comment section.
1. St. Ignatius (26-6 last season)
Since we started putting together rankings at the beginning of the 2010-2011 basketball season, the Wildcats have been our top team every week, and that may not change in 2012-2013. St. Ignatius lost its two best players (West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Maria Kemiji-McDonald and All-WCAL first-teamer Kaitlyn Crawley) to graduation, but returns it’s heralded freshman class from last season. Sophomore Josie Little headlines the group after starting at center for the entire 2011-2012 campaign, but forward Sydney Raggio also projects to start and fellow forward Brianna Beckman will also be in the mix. Throw in a core of call-ups that led the junior varsity Wildcats to an undefeated West Catholic Athletic League record and a few key transfers, and St. Ignatius could be on its way back to another WCAL title game appearance.
2. Lowell (25-5 last season)
The Cardinals will again be the overwhelming favorite to win their fourth straight Academic Athletic Association championship, mostly due to the presence of two AAA Players of the Year. Senior guard Katarina Lum won the award last season after leading the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) and steals (2.3), and senior forward Lorna Tuufuli was the pick two seasons ago as a sophomore. Lowell also returns its top five scorers from last season.
3. Sacred Heart Cathedral (15-15 last season)
The Irish largely have the same group returning (their top seven scorers last season were underclassmen) and will look to make strides under first-year head coach LyRyan Russell. Former head coach Mike Carey may not have lived up to the high expectations of the Sacred Heart faithful, but did win back-to-back Central Coast Section Division III titles behind the stellar play of guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu. A starter in her first two seasons of high school, Summers-Luaulu is now a junior is an early favorite for City Player of the Year.
4. International (22-11 last season)
The Jaguars figure to be the favorite to win the Bay Counties League West title in their first year in the league, mostly due to the return of sophomore phenom Shayna Mehta and junior sharpshooter Natalie Kelly (17 points per game last season). With incoming 6-foot freshman Jasmine Sorrells, International will also have one of the BCL West’s most imposing post players.
5. Mercy (26-4 last season)
The Skippers will dearly miss Mariah Masoli, last season’s City Player of the Year, and walking double-double Courtney Sabahi, who they both lost to graduation, but still have skilled players back from the squad that won its first 19 games of the season in 2011-2012. Mercy head coach Michael Gutierrez feels that senior guard Christina Haight (who averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season) will be one of the City’s best players, but junior forward Nia Ilalio (7.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last year) will be the only other returning starter.
6. Convent (17-9 last season)
The Cubs started all underclassmen last season, but probably lost their best player over the summer. After leading Convent in scoring (11.9 points per game) and rebounds (9.4) as a freshman last season, Erin Hanley has transferred to St. Ignatius. The Convent cupboard is far from bare, with a pair of third-year starters in senior guards Isabella Borges and Bianka Quintanilla-Whye, and junior shooting guard Jaime Hum-Nishikado, the Cubs’ leading scorer returning (11 points per game). First-year head coach Jennifer Hum-Traverso, Hum-Nishikado’s older sister and Convent’s fourth coach in four years, played as a freshman when Convent won its only state championship in 2003, averaged over 20 points per game as a senior in 2006, went on to play in college at New York University and has her No. 11 jersey retired at Convent.
7. University (26-5 last season)
The Red Devils return sophomore guard Katie Lo (11.6 points per game as a freshman last season) and eight other underclassmen, but will have big shoes to fill in the middle. Last season’s BCL West MVP Amelia King, now playing at Connecticut College, averaged a double-double last year, but her impact may be missed most on defense. Second-year head coach Jason Montana will now have to draw up defensive schemes without the 6-foot-1 center in the middle, as well as her 4.6 blocks per game.
8. Galileo (19-9 last season)
The Lions didn’t have a single senior season and should have every player back, including All-AAA junior guards Sarah Lim (team-high 12.4 points per game last season), Kim Fung (9.2) and Cassidy Chan (8.3), along with freshman Karen Wong (8.7). The biggest deficiency for the Lions will again be an inside presence, however, as no Galileo player was taller than 5-foot-7 last season.
9. Urban (13-13 last season)
With the departures of so many impactful frontcourt players in the BCL West, the Blues may have the best player in the paint returning. Senior forward Charlotte Blanc (13.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game) will be the Urban captain, but the Blues will also return senior center Hannah Ferguson (6-foot-1) and add freshman Adi Martin-Ruben (6-foot-1). Blanc led the Blues in scoring last season, but their next three top scorers were seniors.
10. Balboa (10-11 last season)
The Bucs round out the Top 10 because they might have the best scorer in the AAA. After missing a large chunk of the non-league schedule last season, shooting guard Malaysia Basallo averaged 17.4 points per game in her junior year and will be a dark-horse candidate for AAA Player of the Year as a senior. Balboa also returns senior point guard Chanel Malone (13.3 points per game) and a pair of solid forwards, sophomore Tatiana Jimenez and junior Esmi Cabrera.
The best of the rest, with last season’s records: Lick-Wilmerding (10-13), Drew (12-11), Washington (14-16), Lincoln (11-17)