BENSALEM, Pa. – Nathan Hale (Seattle) clinched the program’s first-ever Washington Class 3A state championship and remained the No. 1 team in the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings. The Raiders, coached by former Seattle area prep legend and NBA player Brandon Roy, could take the easy way out and win the national championship but that’s not case.
Instead, the Raiders will take five and regroup before heading to the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Tournament, where it will square up against myriad talent starting on March 30 in Middle Village, N.Y. (Christ the King High School’s Savage Gymnasium). Right now Hale the eight-team tournament will include the top five teams in the Elite 25 plus No. 14 Montverde (Fla.) Academy (a three-time champion) and No. 12 Shadow Mountain (Phoenix) and one other highly ranked team. This could go down as the nation’s finest tournament ever. Oodles of talent and high-level coaching and only one winner will emerge. We’ll keep you abreast of the final pairings.
Two teams joined the Elite 25: No. 22 Jonesboro (Ark.), a team on the verge of bagging the Arkansas Class 6A title and No. 24 Trinity Episcopal (Richmond, Va.), the champions of the Virginia Independent Schools Division I tournament.
No. 6 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) slides up five spots after stopping ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division final. The Knights and three others from southern California compose half of the CIF-Southern Region Open Division that begins this weekend. If all four win, they will be the semifinals. That’s must-see basketball.
This weekend at least five Elite 25 school are competing for state or national tournament titles.
The pick of the litter is the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Frostburg, Md. The quarterfinal pairings are: No. 18 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) vs. Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md.), 4 p.m.; Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore) vs. St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), 5:45; DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) vs. St. Maria Goretti (Hagerstown, Md.), 7:30; and Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) vs. Mount Carmel (Essex, Md.), 9:15. The consolation semifinals start 4 and 5:45 and the championship semis are 7:30 and 9:15 on Friday. The action tips at 3 p.m. on Saturday with four games, including the title tilt.
Additionally, there’s the Grind Session National Championship Tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. No. 11 Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) must win three times, navigating a treacherous field.
The Elite 25 rankings are back on March 14. The Elite 25 will include the results from state playoffs and national and conference tournaments that make this time of year very special. The DICK’S Nationals field should be revealed by then and we’ll dissect it. Hey, it’s all part of March Madness! So, 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, March 7, 2017
1. Nathan Hale, Seattle (29-0)*
Previous ranking: 1.
Low-down: Won the Class 3A championship, rallying to beat Garfield (Seattle), 68-51. The Raiders trailed their rivals, 28-26, at the break but rallied to go up 49-40 after three quarters. Washington-bound Michael Porter, Jr. put up 27 points and 17 rebounds. The Raiders also pounded Lincoln (Tacoma), 84-60, in the semifinals and Stanwood, 86-63, in the quarterfinals. The season isn’t over as they are off to New York later this month for the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Tournament, tipping on March 30. That should be must-see basketball in the Big Apple and a far cry from last year’s pathetic 3-18 mark. Regular season is complete.
2. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (25-1)
Low-down: Idle. Next stop is 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.
4. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (30-3)
Low-down: Senior Night was a smashing success as the Pilots cruised to a 127-65 win over Impact Academy (Las Vegas). Later this month, they are off to the DICK’S Nationals in New York.
5. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (37-4)
Low-down: Coach Steve Smith’s team averaged 96 points in a pair of lopsided wins. The Warriors wrap up the regular season Wednesday with York (S.C.) Prep before a short respite and then get back after it defending their title at the DICK’S Nationals in New York.
6. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (27-2)
Low-down: Oregon State-recruit Ethan Thompson scored a game-high 23 points as the Knights pounded then-No. 6 Mater Dei (Santa Ana), 70-55, in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division final. The top-seeded Knight host Torrey Pines (San Diego) in the CIF-Southern Region Open Division first round on Friday. The semifinals are March 14.
7. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (27-2)
Low-down: Idle. The action shifts to the CIF-Southern Region Open Division first round on Friday against St. Augustine (San Diego). The semifinals are March 14 and the final is March 18.
8. East, Memphis, Tenn. (29-3)
Low-down: Coach Anfernee Hardaway’s squad continued their torrid pace, ousting Southwind (Memphis), 73-63 in the Class AAA, Region 8 championship. They also beat Ridgeway (Memphis), 75-64, in the semifinals. Up next was Brighton Monday in the sectional semifinals.
9. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (31-2)
Low-down: The Monarchs lost to then-No. 11 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance), 70-55, in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division final. C Bol Bol scored 15 points in the loss. Up next are the CIF-Southern Region Open Division playoffs on Friday versus Westchester (Los Angeles). Expect the Monarchs to rebound in a big way.
10. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (26-2)* #
Low-down: Drilled Conwell-Egan (Fairless Hills, Pa.), 84-54, in the Class AAAA City Title Game. Up next is the PIAA Class AAAA first round on Saturday against Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg) in Philadelphia. The second round is March 15.
11. Prolific Prep, Napa, Calif. (27-2)
Low-down: After closing out the regular season with an overwhelming victory the academy team is headed to Phoenix for the Grind Session National Championship, starting with the quarterfinals on Friday.
12. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (27-0)*
Low-down: Idle. Won Conference 4A state championship. Up next is the DICK’S Nationals.
13. Chino Hills, Calif. (29-2)
Low-down: Idle. The Huskies start anew in the CIF-Southern California Region Open Division with a first round game against Los Angeles City Section champion Birmingham (Lake Balboa) on Friday.
14. 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.
15. Skyline, Dallas (34-1)
Low-down: In a throwback game to the era of Four Corners, the Raiders won the Class 6A, Region II championship, edging then-No. 14 Klein Forest (Houston), 33-32. They also beat Dekaney (Spring), 60-49, in the semifinals and in the quarterfinals, Marcus Garrett’s spinning short jumper with :02 left provided the Raiders with a 44-42 triumph over Lufkin. Up next is the 6A state semifinals Friday against Cypress Falls (Houston). The winner plays Keller or San Antonio Wagner Saturday in the final at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
16. The Patrick School, Elizabeth, N.J. (24-4)
Low-down: Jamir Harris scored 16 points to help beat Mater Dei (New Monmouth), 61-34, in the Non-Public B South quarterfinals and St. Joseph (Hammonton), 73-32, in the first round. The Celtics played Ranney School (Tinton Falls) Monday in the semifinals and the South final is Wednesday in Jackson.
17. Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati (24-0)
Low-down: Edged Withrow (Cincinnati), 54-51, in the Division I district tournament semifinals and Little Miami (Morrow), 64-48, in the quarterfinals. The district final is Saturday vs. Walnut Hills (Cincinnati) at the University of Dayton Arena.
18. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (29-5)* *
Low-down: A 21-9 run in the third quarter, erased a deficit as the Purple Eagles won the District of Columbia State Championship, beating Maret School (Washington), 77-66. Miami-bound All-American G Chris Lykes pumped in 24 points. It was the second major postseason tournament title, along with the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, bagged by coach Steve Turner. Bravo! This weekend it’s a three-day run at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Frostburg, Md., starting Thursday afternoon with Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md.).
19. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (24-1)
Low-down: Coach Pat Strickland’s team downed Jesuit (Portland), 98-86, in the Class 6A second round and Willamette, 77-39, in the first round. Up next is Grant (Portland) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at the University of Portland’s Chile Center.
20. Basha, Chandler, Ariz. (30-1)*
Low-down: Won Conference 6A state championship, beating Corona del Sol (Scottsdale), 75-65. Gabe McGlothan contributed 21 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists and Terrell Brown had 23 points (3 treys) and 4 blocks. Season complete.
21. Simeon, Chicago (26-3)
Low-down: Beat Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.), 56-43 in the Class 4A South Holland Region final and Shepard (Palo Heights), 73-36, in the semifinals. Up next is Marist (Chicago) Tuesday in the sectional semifinal, with the final on Friday. The SuperSectional is March 13.
22. Jonesboro, Ark. (31-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Hurricane goes for the Class 6A state championship Friday against El Dorado the Hot Springs Convention Center. Coach Wes Swift’s squad defeated Hall (Little Rock), 56-47, in the semifinals. Junior Desi Sills, an Arkansas recruit, had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in a 71=45 quarterfinal-win over Jacksonville.
23. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (33-3)*
Low-down: Won North Carolina Independent Schools 3-A state title. Season complete.
24. Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, Va. (35-1)*
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Won the Virginia Independent Schools Division state championship, knocking off then- No. 24 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 95-78. It was the Titans first state title since 1996. F Zach Jacobs, a James Madison recruit, flipped in a game-high 38 points and sophomore Armando Bacot had 25. Season complete.
25. Klein Forest, Houston (34-1)
Low-down: Lost to then-No. 16 Skyline (Dallas), 33-32, in the Class 6A, Region 2 final. Also beat Dallas Jesuit, 71-57, in the semifinals and Westfield (Houston), 82-67, in the quarterfinals. Season complete.
Dropped: No. 19 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) and No. 24 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
High-Fives by Region
- Rindge and Latin, Cambridge, Mass. (20-0)
- Wise, Upper Marlboro, Md. (21-0)
- Mount St. Joseph, Baltimore (35-3)* *
- Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (23-3)*
- First Love Christian Academy, Washington, Pa. (22-2)*
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 (20-0)
- Champlin Park, Champlin, Minn. (26-0)
- Bolingbrook, Ill. (26-1)
- Oshkosh (Wis.) North (24-0)
- Morgan Park, Chicago (21-6)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Madison Prep Academy, Baton Rouge, La. (33-3)
- Southwest Christian Academy, Little Rock, Ark. (30-2)*
- Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Chattanooga, Tenn. (30-7)*
- Tift County, Tifton, Ga. (28-2)
- Meridian, Miss. (28-2)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Garfield, Seattle (23-5)
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (23-4)
- Woodcreek, Roseville, Calif. (29-2)
- Birmingham, Lake Balboa, Calif. (27-3)
- Bingham, South Jordan, Utah (24-3)*
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
# Includes a forfeit loss
* Won state, national or conference/league postseason tournament championship
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.