Central California – On Friday, November 24th and Saturday, November 25th, Demetrius Porter (Director of EBO and Exposure Sports) and Jarvis Turner (Head Coach of Beverly Hills High School) will host their 2nd Annual Heart of California Basketball Classic at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State University to kick-off the high school season. This event was designed to feature some of the top teams from Southern and Northern California playing against the top teams from the Central Section of California. In year two of this event, Porter and Turner have taken the schedule to new heights and put together some intriguing match-ups between some of Southern California’s top squads taking on some of the Central Section’s finest. 

In addition to the quality highschool games, this year’s HOC Classic will feature games between prep schools and two girls games for a total of 14 games over the two-day event. Furthermore, Central Cali fans will have the opportunity to watch some of the nation’s top prospects. There will be 5 nationally ranked players on display at Save Mart Center in Isaiah Elohim (247’s #52 for 2024 class), Tounde Yessoufou (ESPN’s #21 for 2025 class), Jason Crowe Jr. (ESPN’s #8 for 2026), Tajh Ariza (ESPN’s #12 for 2026), and Julius Price (Rivals #52 for 2026). 

The headliner game on Saturday night will feature last year’s TRAC league co-champs in Clovis North Broncos against Sierra Canyon Trailblazers, who played San Joaquin Memorial in last year’s headline game and are predicted to make it to the Southern Section Open Division this season. There are four other marquee games that pit some of the Central Sections best against high-quality Southern and Northern California opponents. 

Last year’s Division 2 State Champs, San Joaquin Memorial Panthers, will face the defending Division 5 State Champions, Lynwood Knights, and last season’s leading scorer in California, sophomore Jason Crowe. St. Bernard Vikings and standout sophomore Tajh Ariza will take on the Bullard Knights and its sophomore duo of Ja’Vance Coleman and Dalen Felder. The NorCal Open Division Champs, St. Joseph Knights, will take on the West Ranch Wildcats, who were nationally ranked last season and one of the top teams in California. Lastly, the event will feature an intriguing NorCal-SoCal matchup between Grant Pacers and Redondo Union Sea Hawks

In addition to these 5 marquee games on Saturday, there are several interesting Central Section matchups Saturday morning and Friday afternoon, as well as two good games between prep school programs on Friday evening. Centennial Golden Hawks and Central Grizzlies, Fresno Christian Eagles and Roosevelt Rough Riders, Edison Tigers and Sunnyside, and Clovis Cougars and Tehachapi Warriors (Girls) are all intriguing games for Central Cali fans to kick-off the season. 

Tickets for the 2nd Annual Heart of California Basketball Classic can be purchased at the box office window at Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA, or you can purchase online through Ticketmaster using the following link: https://www.ticketmaster.com/search?q=Heart+of+California+&sort=date&startDate=2023-11-24&endDate=2023-11-25

Below is a preview of each game, the game times, and the spotlight players to watch for each team. This year it is expected to be near sell out so get your tickets as soon as possible. Thank you to Ronnie Flores (CalHi Sports and Ball is Life) and various coaches for providing player names for those I did not have on hand. 

Friday, November 24th 

7:00 p.m. Red Rock Prep (Las Vegas NV) v. Bella Vista Prep (Phoenix AZ) 

Spotlight Players

RR: Juniors Deshawn Gory, Mason Abittan, and Jevon Yapi

BVP: Seniors Makjan Diouf, Jayden Williams, and Marcus Wilson, junior Jaden Vance, sophomore Lucas Tokham

5:30 p.m. DNA Prep (Chatsworth) v. LA Premier Prep (Downey)

Spotlight Players

DNA: Seniors Jon Mani, Zachiah Clark, and Carter McDole, freshman Jaylin Conard

LA: Seniors Nathan Ahner and David Verstraeten, junior Ethan Carter

4:00 p.m. Central Grizzlies v. Roosevelt Rough Riders (Girls)

Spotlight Players

Grizzlies: Senior Keytonna Ross, juniors Vivian Moore and Illicia Ross, freshman Chyna Roland

Rough Riders: Juniors Karli Grier and Nevaeh Reese

2:30 p.m. Fresno Christian Eagles v. Roosevelt Rough Riders (Fresno)

Spotlight Players

Eagles: Senior Angel DeLeon, juniors Aden Millwee and Beckham Klein, sophomores Devin Gaines and Noah Coulton

Rough Riders: Senior Skylarr Redwood, junior James Miller, freshman Cobi Posas

1:00 p.m. Clovis Cougars v. Selma Bears

Spotlight Players

Cougars: Seniors Trey Sanderson and Dilibe Allison, juniors Matt Williams and Pablo Celaya, sophomore Jackson Scarborough 

Bears: Seniors Luke Machnik and Javon Hicks, junior Jeremiah Posada, sophomore Matt Esparza 

Saturday, November 25th

8:30 p.m. Clovis North Broncos (Fresno) v. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (Chatsworth)

Spotlights Players

Broncos: Seniors Connor Amundsen and Jordan Espinoza, junior Lukas Jones and Gus Swenning, sophomores Elias Gish and McKae Amundsen

Trailblazers: Seniors Justin Pippen, Isaiah Elohim, and Noah Williams, junior Bryce Cofield, sophomore Jordan Askew

7:00 p.m. San Joaquin Memorial Panthers (Fresno) v. Lynwood Knights

Spotlight Players

Panthers: Senior Dre Davis, juniors Julius Olanrewaju, Abram Potts, and Silas Rodriguez, sophomores Parker Spees and Sajjin Sidhu, freshmen Jaxson Silverstrom and Ty Schalk 

Knights: sophomores Jason Crowe Jr., Chace Holley, and Jahaz Wright

5:30 p.m. Bullard Knights (Fresno) v. St. Bernard Vikings (Playa Del Ray)  

Spotlight Players

Knights: Senior Kyshawn Johnson, sophomores Ja’Vance Coleman, Dalen Felder, and Sean Smith-Sharkey

Vikings: Senior Kendyl Sanders, junior Caleb Versher, sophomores Tajh Ariza and Christian Collins  

4:00 p.m. St. Joseph Knights (Santa Maria) v. West Ranch Wildcats (Valencia)

Spotlight Players

Knights: Junior Toude Yessoufou, sophomores Julius Price and Abdoul Bare

Wildcats: Seniors James Evans, Darrell Morris, and Bishop Brooks

2:30 p.m. Redondo Union Sea Hawks v. Grant Pacers (Sacramento)

Spotlight Players

Sea Hawks: Senior Devin Ringer, junior Hudson Mayes, sophomore Sean “SJ” Madison, freshman Chris Sanders

Pacers: Seniors Darnell Turner and Zay Monatue, sophomores Andre Gomez and Marcel Ward

1:00 p.m. Centennial Golden Hawks (Bakersfield) v. Central Grizzlies (Fresno)

Spotlight Players 

Golden Hawks: Seniors Rippen Gill, Donn Bolton, Godwill Fomusoh, and Jaxton Santiago

Grizzlies: Senior Darian Green, Kenny White, and Branden Ezell, junior Gerald Perry III, sophomore Myron Pondexter-Johnson

11:30 a.m. Clovis Cougars v. Tehachapi Warriors (Girls)

Spotlight Players

Cougars: Junior Saiyah Sidhu, sophomore Sadie Sin

Warriors: Senior Kennedy Perkins and Camille Foster, junior Riley Walden, sophomore Koree Rodden

10:00 a.m. Edison Tigers (Fresno) v. Sunnyside Wildcats (Fresno)

Spotlight Players

Tigers: Seniors Va’Ron Mitchell, Ray Brown, Wendell Ware, and David Rios, junior Dereon King (30-day)

Wildcats: Juniors Malachi Barnes and CJ Jones