The most anticipated matchup of the Bay Area nonleague boys basketball season -- pitting stars Aaron Gordon and Jabari Bird -- will be played Saturday night when Archbishop Mitty and Salesian of Richmond meet at Cal State East Bay in Hayward.

Mitty is ranked No. 2 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, Salesian No. 3. Mitty won the Division II state championship last season; Salesian won the Division IV title.

"I think it's great that two top-notch programs are going against each other in the preseason," Mitty coach Tim Kennedy said Wednesday.

The matchup, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., is the finale of a six-game basketball feast that host school Moreau Catholic is calling the Catholic Schools Winter Classic.

For Mitty (3-1), it's just the latest big test on the schedule. The Monarchs have beaten Jesuit of Carmichael 64-42, Sheldon 71-65 and Lincoln of San Diego 71-60. Their loss came on ESPN to Travis Fort Bend 56-53 in overtime.

The Cal-bound Bird, Gordon's AAU teammate, has led Salesian to a 5-1 start.

  • The West Catholic Athletic League looks stronger than ever this season. Mitty is the clear favorite, but several other teams are looking very impressive.

    Serra is 5-1 with its only loss to Deer Valley and its 6-foot-9 Kentucky-bound standout Marcus Lee. The Padres, led by Princeton-bound post man Henry Caruso, beat Menlo-Atherton in the Merv Harris Classic 72-26. They play St. Joseph-Alameda at 6 p.m. in the Catholic Schools Winter Classic.


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    "M-A was without their point guard," Serra coach Chuck Rapp said. "Our pressure bothered them and it was a night where our shot was really falling."

    Serra, which has also been getting strong play from point guard Andre Miller and shooting guard Jacqui Biggins, was the WCAL's second-place team last season and handed Mitty its only WCAL loss.

  • Sacred Heart Cathedral, the WCAL's third-place team, went on to win the state Division III championship. Coach Darrell Barbour lost standout big men Taylor Johns and Joshua Fox to graduation but has several guards returning. SHC is 5-0.

  • Bellarmine College Prep won the CCS Division I title last season and returns point guard Blair Mendy and shooting guard Grant Vermeer, who has committed to the Naval Academy. The Bells are 7-1.

  • Riordan looks like the league's most improved team. Point guard Geru Mabrey might be the quickest guard in a guard-heavy league, and the Crusaders (6-0) will get an infusion of talent when transfers become eligible in January. Frankie Ferrari, the Mercury News sophomore of the year last season when he played for Burlingame, is one of the players who has transferred to Riordan.

  • St. Francis, with twin brothers Khalid and Khalil Johnson in the backcourt, is also 5-1.

  • In girls basketball, the discussion of local teams also begins with Mitty, which like the school's boys team is a defending state Division II champion.

    The Monarchs return Mercury News player of the year Kelli Hayes, along with point guard Vanessa Garner, shooting guard Emily Dinger, defensive standout Kalyn Simon and talented newcomer Jahnay Anderson.

    The Monarchs will get plenty of competition in their league from St. Francis (8-0), St. Ignatius (5-1) and others.

  • Last season, the SCVAL De Anza Division was a three-team race among Gunn, Palo Alto and Wilcox. Gunn and Palo Alto played for the CCS Division I championship, but Wilcox returns dominant center Joesetta Fatuesi and is off to a 9-0 start.