By Ray Hamill — The Eureka boys were the biggest movers in the MaxPreps basketball rankings over the past week, moving up a massive 170 spots in the state after back-to-back wins.
The Loggers were the lowest ranked of all 18 local varsity prep programs a week ago, but impressive victories over both Hoopa Valley and McKinleyville has seen them make a substantial leap and move ahead of both the South Fork and Ferndale boys.
The Fortuna boys, meanwhile, remain the No. 2 Division-IV team in both the state and North Coast Section rankings, trailing only Branson.
The Huskies, who have won five straight and are now 18-1, are ranked eighth overall in the NCS.
On the girls side, the top three local contenders each moved up in the state rankings.
Del Norte is now the highest ranked of all the local teams, boys or girls, moving up four spots to No. 50 in the state.
More importantly, the Warriors, who are 14-2, remain at No. 2 in the Division-IV NCS rankings, while moving up one spot to No. 3 in the Division-IV state rankings.
Their biggest challengers in the Big 5 are the Eureka Loggers, who moved up an impressive 18 spots to 104 in the state rankings.
The Eureka girls, who travel to play Del Norte on Wednesday, remain fourth in the NCS and 15th in the state among Division-III teams.
The St. Bernard’s girls, who have now won eight straight and are 13-4, moved up two spots in the state to 214, while remaining a firm No. 1 in the NCS Division-V bracket, with a sizable advantage over No. 2 Cloverdale in ranking points.
In the NCS, the Ferndale and South Fork girls remain fifth and seventh in Division VI, respectively, while Fortuna drops one spot to No. 9 in Division IV, one spot above McKinleyville.
Girls State Rankings
(With NCS Division Rankings in Parenthesis)
50 — Del Norte (No. 2 in D-IV)
104 — Eureka (No. 4 in D-III)
214 — St. Bernard’s (No. 1 in D-V)
321 — Fortuna (No. 9 in D-IV)
352 — McKinleyville (No. 10 in D-IV)
589 — Arcata (No. 15 in D-IV)
782 — Ferndale (No. 5 in D-VI)
812 — South Fork (No. 7 in D-VI)
828 — Hoopa Valley (No. 17 in D-V)
Three boys teams on the rise
On the boys side, three of the nine local teams moved up in the state rankings over the past week.
In addition to Eureka’s big jump, Del Norte moved up seven spots to No. 257, and St. Bernard’s moved up an impressive 115 spots to 786, despite a loss to South Fork.
Fortuna, of course, remains the highest ranked local boys team in the state at No. 56.
The more important rankings, however, are the division rankings, and four local boys teams remain in the top 10 in their respective NCS brackets.
Del Norte is currently sixth in Division IV, up one spot from a week ago and now four spots behind No. 2 Fortuna, while St. Bernard’s is up four spots to No. 7 in Division VI.
The Crusaders are also No. 11 among Division-VI schools in the state.
Hoopa Valley, meanwhile, remains steady at No. 8 in NCS Division V.
While the rankings are a fun starting point for discussion, they don’t decide the playoff seedings and they don’t take everything into account.
The South Fork and Hoopa boys are two examples.
Despite an emotionally charged win over St. Bernard’s on Thursday, South Fork dropped 83 places in the state rankings to No. 1021, in large part because of losses to both Mendocino and Hoopa.
The Cubs, however, began the season without some key starters who were still playing a delayed football season, and started out 0-4.
Since then, they have gone 8-5, including last week’s big win at St. Bernard’s, which ended the Crusaders’ six-year unbeaten run in the Little 4.
However, the rankings take all the games into account.
The South Fork boys are currently No. 14 in NCS Division VI, trailing both St. Bernard’s (7) and Ferndale (11), two teams they have beaten this season.
Boys State Rankings
(With NCS Division Rankings in Parenthesis)
56 — Fortuna (No. 2 in D-IV)
257 — Del Norte (No. 6 in D-IV)
533 — Hoopa Valley (No. 8 in D-V)
567 — McKinleyville (No. 12 in D-IV)
592 — Arcata (No. 14 in D-IV)
786 — St. Bernard’s (No. 7 in D-VI)
884 — Eureka (No. 18 in D-IV)
957 — Ferndale (No. 11 in D-VI)
1021 — South Fork (No. 14 in D-VI)
Hoopa is another intriguing case.
Overall, the Warriors have been impressive this season. They are 15-6 and 2-0 in the Little 4, with a pair of comfortable wins last week, yet they continue to drop in the state rankings.
A lingering inconsistency on defense hasn’t helped, and four of their five losses have come against lower-ranked teams, including last week against a Eureka squad that was at the time ranked 624 spots behind them in California.
The Warriors, however, won’t be bothered with the rankings, and as long as they take care of business in the Little 4, no one in the Division-V bracket will relish a trip to have to play them when the playoffs roll around.
They’re also healthy again after losing two key players for several games, and at least on Saturday they showed signs of cleaning up their defensive concerns in a big win over South Fork.
Last week, Hoopa dropped five spots in the Division-V state rankings, but remain at No. 8 in a loaded NCS Division-V bracket that features seven of the top 17 D-V teams in the state, including No. 1 Stuart Hall.