It’s January, let the basketball, soccer frenzy begin

For the next five weeks, Long Beach is going to sort out its basketball, soccer, water polo and wrestling league championships with a frenzy of activity we haven’t ever seen before. Because so few league contests were scheduled prior to the Winter break, the month of January will be four weeks of constant action.

This week alone, there are 22 basketball games, 21 soccer games, three wrestling matches and six water polo games. That’s a mere 52 games taking place over six days in the city. Not all of those will have league championship or playoff implications, but plenty of them will.

Poly Girls Hoops Dominating

The Long Beach Poly girls’ basketball team has started the season 12-2 and is now ranked No. 6 in the nation by MaxPreps. Poly is also ranked No. 1 in the state and in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 polls. The Jackrabbits have been dominant defensively in upsetting teams like Mater Dei, Etiwanda and La Jolla Country Day, all of whom began the season ranked much higher than Poly. The Jackrabbits allowed just 28 points to Etiwanda in a win last week and shocked the nation’s top-ranked team in La Jolla Country Day in a game that Poly allowed just 39 points.

Millikan, Wilson and St. Anthony are all off to strong starts and are all ranked in the CIF-SS polls, but at this point Poly’s status as the top team in the city seems unquestioned. The Jackrabbits beat Cabrillo 98-5 in their Moore League opener earlier this week— that’s not a typo.

St. Anthony Basketball Streaking

The St. Anthony boys’ basketball team is 18-1 and ranked No. 14 in the nation by MaxPreps, and No. 6 in the State. They’re looking like a lock to make the Open Division playoffs this year, which would be a first for the Saints.

Last week, they faced one of their biggest tests against highly-ranked Harvard-Westlake, and looked like they’d pick up their second loss of the season (their first was to St. John Bosco, who they’ve also beaten). The Saints trailed H-W by three points late, before Lorenzo Marsh’s 3-pointer sent the game to overtime. They were down by three again late in the extra period, before a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Marsh gave them a 58-57 win.

Millikan Soccer’s Near-Perfect Start

The Millikan boys’ soccer team kicked off the New Year with an unbeaten record of 14-0-3, winning the Marina Tournament with defensive dominance, allowing just one goal in six games at the tournament. The Rams began Moore League play on Monday by beating Compton 6-0.

It was Millikan’s only home game of the year due to field construction (DeHaven Stadium is getting field turf and an all-weather track). Millikan will play its home games at Veterans Memorial Stadium this year. That’s certainly a fair trade, there are a few more seats at Vets. But it’s also a bummer as it’s the final season coaching for Millikan icon Rod Petkovic, a man who founded the Rams soccer team almost four decades ago, and who’s won three CIF-SS titles.

Big Games

There are too many big games to list them all comprehensively. Since most teams are just starting league play, everyone still has a shot at the crown, but there is at least one big game each day you should keep an eye on, and find coverage of at the562.org.

Tuesday, Wilson and Long Beach Poly’s girls’ soccer teams play at Poly at 6 p.m. The winner will be in the best position to challenge defending league champion and league-leading Millikan.

Wednesday is the Moore League water polo showcase at Cabrillo. Beginning at 4 p.m., all six Moore League teams will be in action at the pool.

You can take Thursday off if you need then on Friday it’s the El Clasico of Long Beach, as Millikan and Cabrillo’s boys’ soccer teams meet at Vets at 7 p.m.

Saturday will see most of the high school boys’ hoops teams in the city playing at LBCC for the Ron Massey Classic, a tournament put on and run by Massey’s friend and current Jordan coach James McDonald.

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Mike and JJ go together like mac and cheese: they’re best friends, business partners and Long Beach sports experts. They’ve been working together for over a decade covering Long Beach local sports and now run the562.org, a community-funded nonprofit media outlet.
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