After a month of tournament play and teams going here and there and everywhere, league play begins.  That means, for the most part, the teams will be playing in the local area from now until playoff time.
League play begins on Tuesday for every league except for the NBL and SCL Boys, which begin on Wednesday.
Those previews will come tomorrow.

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No. 1 Cardinal Newman at Montgomery
No. 2 Santa Rosa at No. 4 Casa Grande
No. 6 Ukiah at No. 7 Windsor
Maria Carrillo at No. 10 Rancho Cotate
With nearly everybody coming back from a 24-8 team and a Co-NBL championship 13-1 record, the favorite honors go to Cardinal Newman.
Cardinal Newman spent most of the pre-league proving they deserve the favorite role.  That is despite losing three straight in the West Coast Jamboree tournament.  Even though the losses were disappointing, they were to three quality opponents as were the Lady Cardinals the other two losses.  The combined record of the five teams that beat Cardinal Newman is 42-16.
We might find out right off the bat who will give Cardinal Newman the biggest run for the NBL title, with Santa Rosa at Casa Grande.  Both teams have had a good start to the season.
Santa Rosa’s record is 7-5 and they did that against a tough schedule, with a new coach and having to replace the two 2004 Co NBL Players of the year, who graduated.  They also had to play a good chunk of the pre-league without All-League returner Devin Murray, who sat out four games with a concussion before returning last Saturday.  She leads Santa Rosa in scoring at 15.6 a game.  That is also second in the NBL in scoring for the teams that post stats to MaxPreps.
sr panthers
Devin Murray (left) and Kylie Oden hope to get the Lady Panthers of Santa Rosa back on top in the NBL this season.

Kylie Oden, who was a second team All-League member last year, is averaging 12.6 a game.  She had two games over 20 when Murray was out with her injury.
That isn’t all Santa Rosa has.  Sophomore Emily Codding is averaging a little over ten points a game and a little less than ten rebounds.
The other opener to keep an eye on is Ukiah at Windsor.  The two teams are a combined 13-7 and look like at the very least will make a run at the NBL post season tournament.
The theme of the league is young and that includes Windsor, who starts four freshmen, along with senior Jessica Barbosa, who was a second team All-League member last season and reigning player of the week.
Speaking of young, that would be Rancho Cotate, who made an appearance in the rankings this week at No. 10.  It will be interesting to see how they develop over the season.  They have a 5-4 record, which may not seem like much, but this is a team that hasn’t won a league game since 2012, when they went 5-9.
Rancho is averaging 55 points a game and 47 of that is from the top four scorers; three of them are sophomores and the other a freshman.
The freshman is Camille Spackman, who is averaging nearly 19 points, which is an NBL high.  The second leading scorer is sophomore Relani Peleti at 13.7.  Sophomore Kaela Velles is averaging over seven points and ten rebounds a game.  So the nucleus is there for something to develop.  The schedule does take an upgrade when league play starts.
Montgomery gets the first shot at Cardinal Newman in the league opener.  They are off to a 5-7 start, with four of the losses by five points or less.
Montgomery is a young team, with only three seniors, including Abbey Lee, who is the team’s leading scorer at 11.9 a game.  The second leading scorer is Freshman Shayla Newman, who is at 10.7.  Both are also 1-2 in rebounds at over ten a game.
Cardinal Newman is young too.  They have three seniors on the team.  They also have three players returning that were named to one of the All-League teams last season.  Only one of the three are seniors and that is Kylie Keich, who was named to the first team.
It looks like last season was just the beginning for Cardinal Newman.  Everybody will be giving them their best shot. Only time will tell if that will be enough.
No. 3 Sonoma Valley at No. 8 Analy
Piner at El Molino
Healdsburg at Elsie Allen
No. 5 Petaluma Bye
During the last three seasons the SCL Girls race has had three different champions.  If you go by the rankings it could be four for four.
Sonoma Valley at No. 3 is the highest ranked SCL team and hasn’t won a league title since 1984, when they tied Healdsburg for the crown.  The Dragons come into league play 8-4 and have won five of its last six.  They are led by senior Jenny Eggers who is the leading scorer and rebounder at 12.9 and 7.0 a game.
The Dragons jumped right into the league race against No. 8 Analy, who is 6-6 on the season and is the defending regular season champion.  Analy went through the league undefeated last season to win its third title in five seasons.
Another team that is used to being in the hunt for the top of the league is No. 5 Petaluma, who is 9-3.  They have won five of the last nine regular season championships.  They also defeated Analy last year in the SCL post season tournament championship game to win their second straight and fifth title in eight seasons.
Petaluma will open league play on Thursday against Elsie Allen.
Those are the normal characters that make a run at the SCL championship.  A couple of other teams are making some noise.
Healdsburg started the season 5-0 and goes into league play 8-3.  Healdsburg hasn’t won a league championship since 2004.  They still have fifteen league championships, which is the most of any team. he Hounds won eleven straight from 1985-1995.
The other team is Piner, who is 6-5.  That is already more wins than they have had in any season since 2006.
No.5 Cloverdale at Kelseyville
Clear Lake at No. 9 Willits
Fort Bragg at Middletown
Lower Lake at St. Helena
Willits is the two time defending champion and are off to a good start at 10-2.  They have only lost once since the opener.
The Wolverines were hit hard by graduation.  The three leading scorers of last year’s 25-3 team were seniors.  The three averaged over 40 points a game, as the team averaged 60.
They have reloaded with Senior Dimitri Betts averaging 14.1 a game.  His brother Will was one of those seniors last season, who averaged 13.6, which was second on the team.  Dimitri averaged 6.5.
Cloverdale Basketball
Cloverdale has the height and the talent to challenge for the league title.

Willits is one of two teams in the league in the rankings at No. 9.  Cloverdale, who is off to a 7-3 start is No. 5.  The Eagles have three starters at 6’ 6”,  led by senior John McMillan, who is averaging 17.0 a game.  That is tied for the league lead with Ryan Smith of Clear Lake.
The other two 6’ 6” players are underclassmen, so the best maybe in the future for the Eagles.  One is junior Marcus Poe, who is averaging 11.9.  The other is John’s younger brother Jayson, who is averaging 8.6.
The worst break for both schools is that they are both Division 4 schools, the same as Cardinal Newman.
Two other NCL I teams are over .500. Kelseyville matches Cloverdale’s record of 7-3 and Middletown is 9-1. Middletown’s lone loss is to Piedmont, who is 9-3.  They open league play hosting Fort Bragg.
Kelseyville, whose leading scorer is sophomore Kyle Ellis at 13.5 a game, hosts Cloverdale to open league play.
Fort Bragg at No. 9 Middletown
Kelseyville at Cloverdale
St. Helena at Lower Lake
Willits at Clear Lake
It’s a weird set up in the NCL I schedule.  Both the Boys and Girls play on the same day against the same team at different locations.  If the Boys are the home team, the Girls are on the road and vice versa.
Cloverdale is the defending champion, ending Willits’ two year run.  The Eagles had a tough West Coast Jamboree, going 1-2. which cost them a shot at getting into the rankings.
Even though they go into league play with a two game losing streak, Middletown has survived a tough schedule and is 7-5.  They have a loss to Casa Grande and a 27 point win over Analy, which would make one wonder why they are ranked below Analy in the rankings.
Middletown and Cloverdale are the only two teams in the league over .500.
Sonoma Academy at Rincon Valley Christian
Calistoga at Technology
Roseland University Prep at St. Vincent
Upper Lake at Tomales
The NCL II schedule makes more sense than the NCL I.  The Boys and Girls play the same team at the same sight.  The Girls game is first followed by the Boys
The two defending champions are at the same sight to open league play, when Roseland University Prep travels to St. Vincent.  Roseland University Prep is the defending Boys champions; St. Vincent is the defending Girls champ.
Sonoma Academy and Rincon Valley Christian, who meet in the league opener, are the only two teams over .500 in the Boys Division.  Sonoma Academy, who is 7-2 on the season, was on the verge of getting into the rankings before dropping two out of three in the Rincon Valley Christian tournament last week.  The only win was 43-40 over Rincon Valley Christian.
On the Girls side Upper Lake was in No. 10 in the first first rankings.  They dropped out with a 49-48 loss to Lower Lake in the Lower Lake tournament last week.  Upper Lake is still 10-1 on the season.
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