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.
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.
"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.
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.