BENSALEM, Pa. – There comes a time in every season when the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings are on the brink on a new look. It usually happens in December when the holiday tournament kick in but now the latest trend sees the initial two weekends in January when the last of the major events are held.
Last week ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest (Memphis, Tenn.) and the Cancer Research Classic (Wheeling, W.Va.) became power events that are capable of moving the national needle. The CRC, considered one of the top events on the calendar, brought myriad nationally charged games to basketball-crazy West Virginia (about an hour west of Pittsburgh) and sellout crowds.
In Memphis, then-No. 4 East (Memphis) tripped twice last weekend in the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest. East lost to Olive Branch (Miss.) and No. 9 Simeon (Chicago). Therefore the No. 16 Mustangs tumbled 12 spots but remain a major player.
No. 12 Riverside Academy (Reserve, La.) Rebels leap 11 slots after annexing the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic and No. 13 Denton (Texas) Guyer zooms up 12 after compiling a solid dossier with district left on the schedule. The Rebs are Louisiana’s top-ranked team and poised to make another state title run under coach Tim Byrd.
No. 18 Garfield (Seattle) joins the Elite 25 rankings after peeling off 11 straight wins to open the campaign.
The Elite 25 rankings return on Jan. 16 and will reflect results from Hoophall Classic (Springfield, Mass.), Bass Pro Tournament of Champions (Springfield, Mo.) and Flyin’ to the Hoop (Kettering, Ohio)—the Golden Trinity of the Dr. Martin Luther King Weekend events.
The most intriguing game of the weekend is No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) against No. 3 University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Monday at the Hoophall Classic, tipping at 3 p.m. ET (on ESPNU). Oak Hill and No. 11 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) are the favorites at Bass Pro in Missouri.
Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys Basketball Rankings, Jan. 9, 2018
1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (20-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: The Eagles picked up where they left off in late December by ripping then-No, 10 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.), 77-55, at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W.Va. Duke-bound RJ Barrett flipped in 28 points and Andrew Nembhard added 20.
2. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (23-0)
Previous rank: 2.
Low-down: The Warriors returned to action after a week off with two wins. They are off to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions on Thursday for a quarterfinal game in Springfield, Mo., and are then off the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
3. University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (16-0)
Low-down: The Sharks have two local games in south Florida before heading north for a national showdown with No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) on Jan. 15 at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. The also defeated Canterbury (Fort Myers), 81-64, and Dwyer (West Palm Beach), 66-62, at Charger New Year Classic in Riviera Beach, Fla.
4. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (11-0)
Low-down: Coach Steve Turner’s club knocked off then-No. 15 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 67-62, at the Cancer Research Classic. They also topped Good Counsel (Wheaton, Md.), 71-54, in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play, but now comes the true test when the Purple Eagles travel to archrivals No. 10 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) Tuesday and No. 8 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) Thursday.
5. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (18-2)
Previous rank: 8.
Low-down: The Pilots picked up two quality wins at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia. In the opening game, Oregon-bound C Bol Bol collected 34 points, 8 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in a 90-75 victory over First Love Christian (Washington, Pa.). The Pilots defeated then-No. 16 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 93-79.
6. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (14-0)
Previous rank: 9.
Low-down: Despite not playing with standouts David Singles (UCLA recruit) and Gianni Hunt, the Knights edged No. 23 Sierra Canyon School (Chatsworth). Fletcher Tynen scored a game-high 18 points. Also beat Oak Park, 56-42.
7. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (12-0)
Previous rank: 7.
Low-down: The Matadors return to action after a long layoff on Tuesday against Thunderbird (Phoenix).
8. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (12-1)
Previous rank: 11.
Low-down: The Stags jumped to early lead and held off then-No. 6 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), 73-63, at the Cancer Research Classic. Also waxed Bishop Ireton (Alexandria, Va.), 74-49, league play. Now the early season WCAC supremacy is on the line Thursday as the Stags entertain No. 4 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
9. Simeon, Chicago (12-2)
Previous rank: 12.
Low-down: If there is a signature win on the national scene, the Wolverines secured one last weekend on the road when they toppled then-No. 4 East (Memphis), 78-73, in overtime at the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in Memphis, Tenn.
10. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (10-2)
Previous rank: 13.
Low-down: The Panthers held off Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, 63-50, at the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in Memphis, Tenn. Expect a sellout when the Panthers host No. 4 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) in a key WCAC showdown.
11. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (11-3)
Previous rank: 10.
Low-down: Lost to top-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 77-55, at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia. Tyger Campbell scored 18 points and Charles Smith IV had 13 for the Lakers. Also defeated No. 22 Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia), 61-51, as Isaiah Stewart (21 points) and Paxson Wojcik (14) teamed for 35 points at the event.
12. Riverside Academy, Reserve, La. (21-0)
Low-down: Won the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic for the fourth time in six years, defeating Edna Karr (New Orleans), 61-55, in overtime for the title. Jared Butler scored 18 points in the final was tabbed tournament MVP. In the semifinals, the Rebels outlasted Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 75-70, in double overtime. Garland Richardson’s two free throw with :33.8 left gave his team a 73-70 lead and a fast break layup from Butler closed out the scoring.
13. Denton (Texas) Guyer (24-1)
Low-down: Tyler McGhie and De’Vion Harmon each scored 13 points to beat Wylie, 75-67. Two games are on tap this week.
14. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (11-2)
Previous rank: 5.
Low-down: Lost to No. 8 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 73-63, at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia. The Indians enjoyed a short break and tip off three games this week beginning with Marietta on Tuesday.
15. Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (9-2)
Previous rank: 18.
Low-down: Defeated Portland schools Wilson, 104-37, and Grant, 81-80, improving to 3-0 in league play. The Democrats face an intrastate battle with No. 18 Garfield (Seattle) on Jan. 15.
16. East, Memphis, Tenn. (11-3)
Previous rank: 4.
Low-down: The Mustangs dropped two games at the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in the greater Memphis area, including 78-73 overtime-loss to then-No. 12 Simeon (Chicago). The losing is at three games after dropping the championship game of the City of Palms Classic in December in Fort Myers, Fla.
17. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (11-2)
Low-down: Three players scored in double figures as the Buffaloes crushed Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.), 73-42, at the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway Hoopfest in Memphis. N’Faly Dante scored 14 points and MVP Malik Hall had 13.
18. Garfield, Seattle (11-0)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Bulldogs won four games at the holiday tournament in California and came home last week to record two wins, including a 64-58 triumph over West Seattle (Seattle) in the 3A Metro League-Valley.
19. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (18-3)
Previous rank: 14.
Low-down: Split two games, getting upset by Carmel Christian (Matthews), 51-46, and crushing Covenant Day (Matthews), 67-39.
20. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (10-4)
Previous rank: 15.
Low-down: The Monarchs lost to No. 4 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 67-62, at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia.
21. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (11-4)
Previous rank: 16.
Low-down: Jahmius Ramsey tossed in 22 points and earned the game’s MVP as the Ascenders defeated Orlando (Fla.) Christian, 70-62, at the Cancer Research Classic and lost to then-No. 8 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 93-79.
22. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (9-2)
Previous rank: 17.
Low-down: The Panthers fell to No. 11 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.), 61-51, at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia. They have a loaded schedule locally and go to the Hoophall Classic to face Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.) on Saturday.
23. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (11-2)
Low-down: Split two games but defeated Mayfair (Lakewood), 84-79, sophomore F Terren Frank topped all scorers with 33 points and Duane Washington Jr. added 15.
24. Oak Ridge, Orlando, Fla. (14-3)
Low-down: Defeated Lake Highland Prep (Orlando), 70-65, at the Showdown in O-Town.
25. Clarkston, Mich. (7-1)
Previous rank: 24.
Low-down: The Wolves face Pershing (Detroit) on Saturday at the Freedom Classic in Warren.
Dropped: No. 20 Hudson Catholic, Jersey City, N.J.;
High-Fives by Region
- Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (7-1)
- Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (9-2)
- Mount Vernon, N.Y. (10-0)
- Ranney School, Tinton Falls, N.J. (6-2)
- Hudson Catholic, Jersey City, N.J. (4-3)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Curie, Chicago (12-2)
- Orr, Chicago (12-2)
- North, Oshkosh, Wis. (11-0)
- Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn. (9-1)
- Huntington (W.Va.) Prep (15-4)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Cox Mill, Concord, N.C. (12-3)
- Scott County, Georgetown, Ky. (12-1)
- Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (18-3)
- Huffman, Birmingham, Ala. (18-1)
- Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C. (16-4)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (12-1)
- Etiwanda, Calif. (15-1)
- Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (16-1)
- Salesian Prep, Richmond, Calif. (15-1)
- Clark, Las Vegas (11-3)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
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 @clawlor.