From left, coaches James Peterson of Turlock (vs. Freedom), Jeremy Plaa of Downey (at East Union) and Roger Canepa of Central Catholic (vs. Clovis West) have tough opening night tests, but the most intriguing game on Aug. 23, 2019 belongs to Oakdale-Sonora, according to a fan vote.

Top small-school teams meet Tuesday, while new No. 5 closes in on SL crown

James Burns
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Comprised of teams from the Central California Athletic Alliance, Mother Lode League, Southern League and Trans-Valley League. Last week’s ranking and current records in parenthesis.

1. (1) Sonora (19-4, 5-1): The Wildcats have won five straight after beating Calaveras 51-42 on Friday. Sonora started and finished the game with a purpose, outscoring Calaveras 32-18 in those quarters to avenge its only Mother Lode League loss.

2. (2) Argonaut (14-8, 5-1): The Mustangs defeated Summerville 59-46 to extend their winning streak to three games and remain in lockstep with Sonora atop the league standings. Argonaut’s championship mettle will be tested on Tuesday when the two leaders meet at Bud Castle Gym, one of the toughest venues in the southern half of the Sac-Joaquin Section.

3. (3) Ripon Christian (15-7, 7-0): Though his team had its three-game winning streak snapped, Ripon Christian coach Mark Hofman isn’t broken up over a 59-52 loss to Cornerstone Christian of Antioch. “We wanted to play them because they play fast,” Hofman told The Manteca Bulletin, no doubt looking ahead to potential matchups in the section playoffs. Cade Alger and Will Gilbert combined for 35 in the loss.

4. (4) Ripon (12-11, 6-1): Center Vincent Olmo has saved some of his best basketball for the homestretch. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound senior has averaged 22.3 points, 13 rebounds and 4.3 blocked shots during the Indians’ three-game winning streak. Ripon has a busy week ahead with games against Riverbank (Tuesday), Escalon (Thursday) and Hughson (Friday) on the schedule.

5. (nr) Mariposa (18-5, 8-0): The Grizzlies join the top-five for the first time all season thanks in large part to their recent run of success. Mariposa has won eight consecutive games and is running away with the Southern League title. The unbeaten Grizzlies can clinch at least a share of the crown with a victory on Wednesday over Denair, which currently sits in second with two losses.

Bubble: Calaveras (14-10, 3-3).

Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at frontrowpreps@gmail.com.