LONDON – The reason we had back the release of the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ rankings is for the two league championships that were conducted on Monday night.
The Philadelphia Catholic League and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference had tournament title games at The Palestra in Philadelphia and American University’s Bender Arena in D.C., respectively. Winning these tournaments is akin to capturing a state tournament and even better in most cases. The quality of players, coaches and teams in both these leagues is off the charts. The WCAC is clearly the best league in the nation and the PCL is not far behind.
No. 20 Gonzaga (Washington) won the WCAC for the second time in three seasons while Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) captured its first-ever PCL title. Wood trailed 31-18 at halftime before rallying to stop Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), 65-58. Congratulations to Wood coach John Mosco, who helped build the N-G program into a national power, for leaving the South Philadelphia in 2013 and taking the Vikings to the Promised Land locally and will be a favorite to win the PIAA Class AAAAA state championship in March. N-G coach Carl Arrigale and Mosco are very good friends and it was a shame that one had to lose. N-G should win the PIAA Class AAA championship. But Mosco is one of the very best in the business and his perseverance as an assistant and loyalty were qualities that put him over the top at Wood. In Washington, here’s a shout out to coach Steve Turner, too. Well done on a manic Monday night!
There are no additions to Elite 25 rankings but that should change in the coming weeks with the state tournament results rolling in. Despite losing, No. 24 Paul VI (Fairfax) slips but doesn’t drop out of the Elite 25. Remember these words: strength of schedule.
As for England, basketball is a niche sport and virtually non-existent. I attended the Chelsea vs. Swansea City soccer match at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. If you’ve never been to an English Premier League match in England, put it on your bucket-list! I’ve been to several over the years and the passion is unmatched. I’m an ardent Chelsea supporter and it was another great day at the Bridge.
The Elite 25 rankings are back on March 7. The Elite 25 will include the results from state playoffs and national and conference tournaments that make this time of year very special. Welcome to March Madness! So, be sure to attend a game, the season is winding down and champions are being crowned. We hope to see you at a game soon. — Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys Basketball Rankings, Feb. 28, 2017
1. Nathan Hale, Seattle (25-0)
Previous ranking: 1.
Low-down: The Raiders won their 25th game of the season, topping local rival Rainier Beach (Seattle), 80-71, in the Class 3A Regional. They have bye to the 3A state quarterfinals Thursday against Shorecrest (Shoreline, Wash.) or Stanwood in Tacoma.
2. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (25-1)
Low-down: The Lakers are off for a month before entering the DICK’S Nationals in New York.
3. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (24-1)
Low-down: Idle. A first-ever trip to the DICK’S Nationals is the next round of games in New York.
4. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (29-3)
Low-down: Defeated Elite 1 Academy (Phoenix), 118-76. The regular season concluded Tuesday with the next stop the Big Apple for the DICK’S Nationals on March 30.
5. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (35-4)
Low-down: In three wins, coach Steve Smith’s club was high-flying, scoring 105, 107 and 92 points. Iowa State-bound Lindell Wigginton tossed in a career-high 41 points to help defeat Comenius School (Fort Mill, S.C.), 107-47 and 26 in a 92-65 win over Rock Creek Christian (Upper Marlboro, Md.).
6. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (31-1)
Low-down: The Monarchs needed overtime but still outlasted then-No. 7 Chino Hills, 83-80, in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Junior C Bol Bol had 14 points, 15 rebounds and blocked 4 shots. Also beat Roosevelt (Corona), 71-55, in the quarterfinals. Up next is No. 11 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) in the final at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
7. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (27-2)
Low-down: Lost to then-No. xx Bishop Montgomery (Torrance), 7063, in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Junior Marvin Bagley III scored 28 points and cleared 12 rebounds.
8. East, Memphis, Tenn. (27-3)
Low-down: Won the Class AAA District 16 championship, topping Whitehaven (Memphis), 84-66. Opened the Region 8-AAA tournament doubling up Germantown, 97-48.
9. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (25-2)* #
Low-down: Won Philadelphia Public League, beating Martin Luther King (Philadelphia), 53-49, as Rhode Island-bound G Daron Russell (24 points) sank 7 of 8 free throws in the final three minutes of a tight game and was named the game’s MVP.
10. Prolific Prep, Napa, Calif. (26-2)
Low-down: Pierre Crockrell II dropped in 30 points, making 8 of 12 treys, and handed out 8 assists in a 113-74 victory over Pacific Coast Prep (Vancouver, B.C., Canada) on Senior Night in the Napa Valley.
11. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (25-2)
Low-down: Oregon State-bound Ethan Thompson scored 21 points as No. 2 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth), 72-63, in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals. Up next is No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the sectional final Saturday. Also beat Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita), 57-54, in the quarterfinals
12. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (27-0)*
Low-down: Won the Conference 4A state championship, defeating Salpointe Catholic (Tucson), 81-48, in the final. G Marcus Shaver scored 29 points, sinking 6 of 10 3-pointers, and added 7 boards and 3 assists. Also crushed Moon Valley (Phoenix), 87-47, in the semifinals as Shaver flipped in 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting. Expect coach Mike Bibby’s team to get an invite to the DICK’S Nationals later in March. Regular season is complete.
13. Chino Hills, Calif. (29-2)
Low-down: LaMelo Ball totaled 28 points and eight 3-pointers and Li’Angelo Ball scored 26 and hit five 3s but it was enough in an 83-80 overtime loss to then-No. 10 Mater Dei (Santa, Ana, Calif.) in the CIF-Southern Section Division semifinals. Also topped Poly (Long Beach), 98-74, in the quarterfinals. The CIF-Southern Region Open Division is another crack at Mater Dei.
14. Klein Forest, Houston (32-0)
Low-down: The offense was amped up in two wins. In the Class 6A, Region 2 Area round, the Eagles crushed Cedar Park, 93-75, and Aldine Nimitz (Houston), 102-39, in the bi-district playoff game. Up next are the Region 2 quarterfinals against Westfield (Houston).
15. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (22-4)
Low-down: Idle. The Eagles are off until March 30 when they play in the DICK’S Nationals in New York.
16. Skyline, Dallas (31-1)
Low-down: Jase Townsend had 23 points to take down Conroe, 75-48 in the Class 6A, Region II Area game. Townsend threw in 10 points to help beat Garland, 62-37, in the bi-district playoff game. The Region II quarterfinals are Tuesday against Lufkin.
17. The Patrick School, Elizabeth, N.J. (21-4)
Low-down: Won their fourth Union County Tournament championship in five years, beating archrival Linden, 58-44. Kentucky-bound C Nick Richard netted 24 points. The Celtics play St. Joseph (Hammonton) Wednesday in the Non-Public B South first round.
18. Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati (22-0)
Low-down: Idle. The Crusaders tip off the Division I sectionals on Wednesday.
19. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (28-0)
Low-down: In the Class AAAAAAA, the Indians ousted Lambert (Suwanee), 59-50, in the second round play. They crushed Mill Creek (Hoschton), 89-55, in the first round. The quarterfinals are Wednesday against state powerhouse Wheeler (Marietta).
20. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (26-5)*
Low-down: Won its second Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship in the last three years, taking down then-No. 21 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 68-55, in the final. The Eagles were up most of the game and 49-34 after three quarters.
21. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (22-1)
Low-down: The Democrats polished off an unbeaten league campaign with 16 wins and opened the Class 6A state playoffs Tuesday vs. Willamette.
22. Basha, Chandler, Ariz. (29-1)
Low-down: Gabe McGlothan had 17 points and 7 rebounds to help defeat Desert Vista (Phoenix), 43-38, in the Conference 6A state semifinals. The Bears played Corona del Sol (Scottsdale) Tuesday in the final at Gila River Arena.
23. Simeon, Chicago (24-3)
Low-down: Idle. The Wolverines opened the Class 4A South Holland Sectional in the semifinals on Tuesday. The final is Friday.
24. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (26-5)
Low-down: Lost to then-No. 20 Gonzaga (Washington), 68-55, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference final. In the semifinals, the Panthers beat DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 59-55. Coach Glenn Farello’s club is headed to the Virginia Independent Schools Division I tournament starting Wednesday with Episcopal (Alexandria) or Bishop Ireton (Alexandria) in the quarterfinals. The semifinals are Friday and the final is Saturday in Petersburg.
25. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (33-3)*
Low-down: Won second North Carolina Independent Schools 3-A state crown in three seasons, defeating Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point), 63-60. Solomon Smith drilled a 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds remaining to unlock a 60-all tie. Smith and John Newman each netted 14 points. In the semifinals, the Bengals beat Cannon School (Concord), 68-49. The season might not be over as the Bengals wait for an invite to the DICKS’S Nationals. Regular season is complete.
High-Fives by Region
- Rindge and Latin, Cambridge, Mass. (19-0)
- Wise, Upper Marlboro, Md. (18-0)
- Mount St. Joseph, Baltimore (32-3)*
- Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (22-3)*
- First Love Christian Academy, Washington, Pa. (19-2)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian (18-0)
- Champlin Park, Champlin, Minn. (24-0)
- Bolingbrook, Ill. (24-1)
- Oshkosh (Wis.) North (22-0)
- Morgan Park, Chicago (19-6)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Jonesboro, Ark. (27-0)
- Madison Prep Academy, Baton Rouge, La. (31-3)
- Southwest Christian Academy, Little Rock, Ark. (30-2)*
- Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Chattanooga, Tenn. (30-7)
- Bowling Green, Ky. (29-2)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (22-4)
- Woodcreek, Roseville, Calif. (27-2)
- Birmingham, Lake Balboa, Calif. (26-3)
- Corona del Sol, Tempe, Ariz. (26-3)
- Gonzaga Prep, Spokane, Wash. (23-1)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
* Won state, national or conference/league postseason tournament championship
# Includes a forfeit loss
About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Boys’ Basketball Rankings are released weekly from November until the conclusion of the high school season. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition, and quality of the team’s league, conference, region or district. Teams with fifth-year players cannot be ranked. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released in April. Follow him on Twitter at #clawlor.