EXTRA TIME: No. 1 DeMatha survives overtime in WCAC triple-digits thriller; No. 21 Bergen Catholic (NJ) debuts after impressive wins
BENSALEM, Pa. — The top ranked team from the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday afternoon.
Actually, it was an exhale that No. 1 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) deserved but had to know was coming. Playing in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is like living on the edge. Each game is a war on the boards.
DeMatha was pushed to the limit and survived overtime to hold off No. 24 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.), 109-107, in contest that is under consideration for “Game of the Year.”
It was an exhausting game that went back and forth, with both teams pushing the pace until the Stags forced overtime in the final seconds of regulation and watched as PVI missed two shots before the buzzer. DeMatha calmly sank free throws in the extra session to ice it.
There are no nights off in the WCAC.
There was one newcomer to the Elite 25 rankings. No. 21 Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.), known for its nationally ranked football team, is doing it on the hardwood and did it last week to an Elite 25 team. The unbeaten Crusaders slipped past then-No. 14 The Patrick School (Hillside) by seven points. Most New Jersey prep experts believe BC is the state’s second best team behind No. 13 Camden (N.J.) and they may have proved last week with their signature.
Since there are no New Jersey postseason this year, the dream matchup could only take place if both teams agree to play. That’s highly unlikely to occur. BC still has business to take care of with a rugged schedule out of the Big North Conference United Division (North Jersey’s premier league) ahead. BC’s two main rivals are St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) and Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey) and both would love nothing better than to spoil a perfect campaign.
Looking ahead there’s plenty of state tournaments to be played and notable national events.
Usually, we’re all over the GEICO High School Nationals and this year’s field should be easier to handicap with the advent of the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference.
Normally, a bevy of independent schools stock the field with state champions from Florida, Georgia, Utah, Washington, Nevada and Arizona also included. North Carolina and South Carolina independent schools have the green light and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference could be added. Getting the WCAC to agree would be a coup. Teams from Nevada and Washington are out this year.
Through President’s Day weekend the obvious choices are Elite 25 teams DeMatha (Md.), Monteverde (Fla.) Academy, IMG Academy (Fla.), AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.), Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.), Wasatch Academy (Utah), La Lumiere School (Ind.), Milton (Ga.), Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep and Pace Academy (Ga.).
That’s all predicated on Milton and Pace Academy winning Georgia state championships and Orlando Christian Prep capturing the Florida Class 2A title. But no one is guaranteed an invitation. We’re hearing the boys’ bracket could be 10 teams over four days but no venue has been selected to hold the national event.
Other teams that should be considered are Carmel Christian (N.C.), Prolific Prep (Calif.) and Combine Academy (N.C.). There could be a surprise team but mostly the independent teams named above appear to be locked in.
Finally, there’s a reprieve for eight Chicagoland teams from March 12-13. The Chipotle Clash of Champions will take place in lieu of another missed Illinois state tournament. There are two Chicago Public Schools teams (No. 19 Simeon and Whitney Young), two suburban (Evanston and Mundelein) and four Catholic (Notre Dame College Prep, DePaul Prep, Fenwick and St. Patrick). All eight teams announced Monday are ranked in the top-10 of Chicago area teams). The quarterfinals are March 12. The semifinals and final will be played on March 13.
That’s exciting news for eight Illinois teams that would not have a had “postseason tournament-type” experience.
Okay, that’s it for the second week in February.
The Elite 25 boys’ rankings are back on Feb. 23.
Until then keep safe, mask up, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly and support your local businesses. For those observing Lent, it starts with Ash Wednesday this week.
Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys’ Basketball Rankings, Feb. 16, 2021
1. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (11-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: Life in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference can be a bit nervy. Perfect example is Sunday’s 109-107 overtime victory at No. 24Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.). PVI forced the extra session with a late rally. UConn-bound G Jordan Hawkins (28 points) forced overtime with a late 3-pointer to tie it at 95. Hawkins nailed 12-of-18 shots, including three 3-balls. PVI had two shots in the waning seconds of regulation but the top-ranked Stags survived one of the great games this season. Earlier in the week, the Stags nipped Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), 86-84. It’s never easy in the WCAC.
2. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (20-1)
Low-down: Idle. The Eagles are off until March
3. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (19-2)
Low-down: Two more quality wins by the Kansans. Michigan State-bound Jaden Akins scored 17 points, making 7-of-11 shots, and the Buffaloes stopped Bellevue (Neb.) West, 75-68, at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Neb. Akins was named Player of the Game. Zach Clemence tossed in a team-high 20 points. Also beat then-No. 14 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 67-56.
4. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (21-2)
Low-down: Defeated The Rock School (Gainesville), 81-50, in last week’s lone contest.
5. Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (21-0)
Low-down: Defeated Wayne (Fort Wayne), 85-34, and Concordia (Fort Wayne), 88-44. The regular season concludes Friday against Carroll (Fort Wayne).
6. AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Ariz. (21-1)
Low-down: Stopped Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.), 68-55, as TyTy Washington poured in 25 points and handed out 6 assists.
7. Milton, Alpharetta, Ga. (23-2)
Low-down: Closed out regular season with wins over Grace Christian Academy (Powder Springs), 88-47, and Cedar Shoals (Athens), 70-46, stretching the win streak to 21 games. The regional tournament gets underway this week.
8. Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (5-0)
Low-down: G Rahsool Diggins, a UConn recruit, had the hot hand with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists to edge out Bonner & Prendergast (Drexel Hill), 68-67. In an 82-56 victory over Father Judge, La Salle-bound Daeshon Shepherd scored 25 points and cleared 6 rebounds. Game with Bishop McDevitt (Wyncote) was postponed by inclement weather.
9. Waxahachie, Texas (15-2)
Low-down: The Indians are District 11-6A champions and open the postseason with a Class 6A bi-district game when the winter weather clears up in the Metroplex.
10. Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (18-6)
11. Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis (7-1)
Low-down: After suffering a loss the previous weekend, the Redhawks bounced back with wins over Hibbing, 77-73, and Edina, 87-48. In the latter game, 7-foot C Chet Holmgren poured in a game-high 26 points and Isaiah Davis added 16. The Redhawks hosted Stewartville Monday in a nationally televised game.
12. Duncanville, Texas (22-1)
Low-down: The Panthers won twice last week and had one canceled at Waco due to inclement weather. The Class 6A bi-district playoffs are scheduled to start weather pending later this week.
13. Camden, N.J. (5-0)
Low-down: Super sophomore G D.J. Wagner totaled 47 points in victories over Eastern (Voorhees), 83-58, and Winslow (Atco), 77-36. The Panther have three games this week, starting with Camden Catholic (Cherry Hill) Tuesday.
14. Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep (22-0)
Low-down: The Warriors captured the District 11-2A tournament title, beating City of Life Christian Academy (Kissimmee), 55-31. Next are the Region 3 quarterfinals against Covenant Christian (Palm Bay) on Thursday.
15. Millard North, Omaha, Neb. (21-1)
Low-down: G Hunter Sallis (32 points) and Saint Thomas (29) teamed for 61 points and the Mustangs held off then-No. 16 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island. The Mustangs jumped to an 18-5 lead in the first quarter. Sallis also had 5 rebounds and 2 blocks, earning player of the game honors. Two games are left in the regular season.
16. Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (0-0)
17. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (0-0)
Low-down: Idle. The Panthers play Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.) Tuesday.
18. Archbishop Stepinac, White Plains, N.Y. (0-0)
Low-down: Idle. Practice started in New York and games are upcoming next week.
19. Simeon, Chicago (0-0)
Low-down: Good news from the Windy City. The Wolverines are expected to open on Feb. 25 and will conclude the season with a tournament on March 12-13 outside of Chicago.
20. Pace Academy, Atlanta (21-1)
Low-down: The Class AA, Region 6 Tournament tips off at home on Bob Chambers Court Thursday.
21. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (5-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: For years the Crusaders were close to cracking the Elite 25 and now they secured that big-time win it needed. Led by the junior backcourt of Will Richardson (18 points) and Julian Brown (21 points), coach Billy Armstrong’s team knocked off then-No. 14 The Patrick School (Hillside), 60-53. The Crusaders are back at it this week with three games with three games in the Big North United, including two with rival St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) on Tuesday and Saturday.
22. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (14-8)
Low-down: Junior M.J. Rice scored 26 points but it wasn’t enough in an 80-76 loss to then-No. 22 Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Neb. Also fell to No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), 67-56. The Warriors are 7-8 since the restart in January.
23. Vashon, St. Louis (8-0)
Low-down: Another one-game week for the Wolverines, who drubbed Hickman (Columbia), 87-64.
24. Paul VI, Chantilly, Va. (7-4)
Low-down: The Panthers came close, rallying to force overtime but just ran out of time in a 109-107 setback to No. 1 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.). The game was tied at 95 through regulation and the Panthers had twice chances to win in the last 5 seconds. Trevor Keels closed out his career with a game for the ages: 41 points and 8 assists. Coach Glenn Farello’s team is done for the year. Three losses versus Elite 25 teams but still one of the best. Season complete.
25. The Patrick School, Hillside, N.J. (5-1)
Low-down: There was a shocker last week out of the Garden State. The Celtics lost to No. 21 Bergen Catholic (Oradell), 60-53 but rebounded to beat Gill St. Bernard (Gladstone), 78-67. Junior G Zion Cruz pumped in a season-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting against GSB. Coach Chris Chavannes’ club faces powerhouse St. Benedict’s (Newark) Thursday.
Dropped: No. 25 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.).
High-Fives by Region
- Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia (2-1)
- Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (8-1)
- St. Raymond, Bronx, N.Y. (0-0)
- Green Run, Virginia Beach, Va. (8-0)
- Polytechnic Institute, Baltimore (0-0)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (6-8)
- Cedar Falls, Iowa (15-0)
- Carmel, Ind. (18-2)
- Lawrence North, Indianapolis (19-2)
- Whitney Young, Chicago (0-0)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Christian Brothers, Memphis, Tenn. (20-0)
- Carmel Christian, Matthews, N.C. (21-1)
- Richardson, Texas (21-1)
- Magnolia, Ark. (17-0)
- Fairhope, Ala. (26-1)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (0-0)
- Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (0-0)
- O’Dea, Seattle (0-0)
- Sunnyslope, Phoenix (9-0)
- Timpview, Provo, Utah (18-3)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Records are through Sunday
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. 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. Follow him on Twitter at @clawlor.
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