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FEAR THE DEER: No. 1 DeMatha Stags (MD) ascend Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ rankings thanks to NIBC; No. 3 Sunrise Christian (KS), No. 4 IMG Academy (FL) post signature wins

BENSALEM, Pa. — The only thing that could prevent Montverde (Fla.) Academy from retaining the No. 1 slot in the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings was the newly created National Interscholastic Basketball Conference.

Teams are constantly being pushed and programs absorb more losses than they are accustomed to in an entire season.

Well, the national circuit featuring several teams from the Elite 25 after weeks of feasting on one another finally devoured the No. 1 team in the land. MVA had some close calls in the NIBC, which wrapped up two weeks of games at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament on Saturday, but it came to reason that No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) came away with a 69-66 triumph, snapping MVA’s 44-game win streak.

Whenever you see a team play in rapid-fire succession over the last month, you are bound to refine your scout and then pounce. Well, the Buffaloes from the America’s heartland did that last Friday. A month earlier, MVA held off the Buffaloes, 58-52, at the St. James Invitational NIBC stop in Virginia. Coach Luke Barnwell’s team learned from that experience and sprang that many feel is an “upset” on MVA’s home floor.

With the NIBC’s model—creating compelling games for the nation’s best schoolboy teams during a pandemic year—there are no secrets. Cannibalizing each other was inevitable. These so-called upsets are just part of circuit play.

So, the No. 2 Eagles (20-1) slide one spot in the Elite 25, opening the door for No. 1 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)—the nation’s most storied program—to assume the summit. DeMatha got off to a late start of its season in January but have peeled off nine straight wins. DeMatha’s schedule is fluid with games slotted for the short term. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is piecemealing a schedule day-by-day and a postseason tournament is still on the table. The Stags are a legitimate No. 1 squad, featuring a raft of talent that will sustain them for the next three years. Coach Mike Jones is the architect of the DMV’s signature program. And now the nation’s top ranked.

The lone addition to the Elite 25 is defending state champion No. 15 Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep. The Warriors (20-0) ran the regular season table and start the FHSAA District 11-2A tournament this week and should advance to the Region 3 first round without any hiccups. Coach Treig Burke’s program has won eight state titles since 2008 and is third all-time in Florida boys’ hoops in that category. A year ago, OCP went 29-2.

Additionally, No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) went up to Minnesota and recorded a 20-point win at then-No. 6 Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis). Big man Chet Holmgren of Minnehaha was largely held in check by IMG’s aggressive frontline defending.

OK, that’s it for the first week in February. The NIBC is percolating and there is an interesting showcase event Saturday in Grand Island, Nebraska, involving Elite 25 teams Sunrise Christian Academy, No. 16 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)—fresh off the NIBC trail—and Nebraska’s No. 22 Millard North (Omaha). Check out the Heartland Hoops Classic here.

The Elite 25 boys’ rankings are back on Feb. 16.

Until then keep safe, mask up, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly and support your local businesses.

Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor

Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys’ Basketball Rankings, Feb. 9, 2021

1. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (9-0)

Previous rank: 2.

Low-down: In a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference showdown, the Stags flexed their muscles and maintained their frenetic scoring pace with an 89-77 victory over then-No. 21 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.). The Stags trailed 67-65 after three quarters but closed on a 24-10 tear. Elite junior Tyrell Ward provided 26 points, 11 rebounds and 5 steals. Earlier in the week, they beat Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 95-79, behind 18 points apiece from Ward and Jordan Hawkins. Jerrell Roberson posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

2. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (20-1)

Previous: 1.

Low-down: The Eagles saw their vaunted win streak halted at 44 games after a shocking 69-66 overtime loss to No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament NIBC last Friday. However, Kevin Boyle’s team did not hang their heads, rebounding to beat No. 10 Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah), 73-66. G Caleb Houstan drained 17 points.

3. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (16-2)

Previous: 3.

Low-down: It was a monumental weekend for coach Luke Barnwell and the Boys from Kansas at the MAIT NIBC in Montverde, Fla. In a shocker, the Buffaloes defeated top-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 69-66, in overtime. The win snapped Montverde’s 44-game win streak that spanned two seasons. Tennessee-bound Kennedy Chandler collected 19 points, 6 assists and 6 boards, and Baylor-bound Kendall Brown tossed in a game-high 21 points. Chandler’s three-point floater at the regulation buzzer forced OT. In a classic trap game that followed, the Buffaloes held off Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 61-54. Gradey Dick and Brown teamed for 30 points. This weekend it’s a trip to the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Nebraska for a tricky matchup with Bellevue (Neb.) West.

4. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (20-2)

Previous: 4.

Low-down: Crushed then-No. 6 Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.), 73-53, and The Carmel School (Ruther Glen, Va.), 92-56. Junior PG Jaden Bradley scored a game-high 21 points for the Ascenders in Minneapolis.

5. Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (19-0)

Previous: 6.

Low-down: Luke Goode canned a turnaround three-point jumper from the right corner at the buzzer, lifting the unbeaten Spartans to a pulse-thickening 56-53 win at Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers). The Spartans close out the season with three Fort Wayne area games in the Summit Conference.

6. AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Ariz. (19-1)

Previous: 7.

Low-down: TyTy Washington, a Creighton recruit, tallied a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 4 steals in a 99-48 blowout of Bella Vista Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.). The Dragons are back it against West Coast powerhouse Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) Tuesday night.

7. Milton, Alpharetta, Ga. (21-2)

Previous: 9.

Low-down: Super sophomore Kanaan Carlyle flipped in 20 points and the Indians crushed Roswell (Ga.), 73-31. They also stopped Cherokee (Canton), 72-50. The regular season concludes with Evans Friday.

8. Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (3-0)

Previous: 11.

Low-down: Just when it seemed like the Vikings were sunk, they stormed back in the fourth quarter with a 32-20 run to force overtime and nipped rival Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), 80-79, in a Philadelphia Catholic League thriller. The game was tied at 69 through regulation after Wood trailed 49-37 heading into the fourth quarter. Muneer Newton hit for 17 points, making 8-of-9 shots. Also topped La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.), 79-50, as Richmond-bound Marcus Randolph pumped in 22 points, sinking five 3-points, and had 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

9. Waxahachie, Texas (17-2)

Previous: 12.

Low-down: Defeated Lake Ridge (Mansfield), 66-43. The regular season is down to four games, including a key matchup with No. 12 Duncanville on Feb. 15 that will decide the District 11-6A championship. The Indians won the first meeting.

10. Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (18-6)

Previous: 10.

Low-down: Went 1-2 last weekend at the MAIT NIBC. Kentucky-bound G Nolan Hickman scored 23 points vs. No. 2 Montverde (Fla.) Academy in  a 73-66 loss.

11. Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis (5-1)

Previous: 6.

Low-down: Lost to No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 73-53. The Redhawks cut the deficit to 42-35 at halftime with a late surge but IMG had too many weapons. Isaiah Davis scored 20 points in the loss and 7-foot Chet Holmgren, a national player of the year candidate, had 13. Also beat Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.), 70-63, as junior Prince Aligbe and Holmgren scored 19 points apiece.

12. Duncanville, Texas (20-1)

Previous: 14.

Low-down: Damon Nicholas scored 22 points and Zhuric Phelps added 20 to lead a parade of five players in double-figures during a 93-71 thrashing of Cedar Hill. The Panthers held a 40-31 lead at the break but used a 32-17 spurt in the third quarter to earn their 20th victory. Only three games remain in the regular season.

13. Camden, N.J. (3-0)

Previous: 16.

Low-down: Sophomore D.J. Wagner fired in a game-high 29 points and the Panthers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Rutgers Prep (Somerset), 83-66. The game was knotted at 33 by halftime but a 28-18 fourth-quarter tear iced it. Also, defeated Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken), 81-40, with Jerome Brewer taking the scoring honors with 14 points.

14. The Patrick School, Hillside, N.J. (3-0)

Previous: 17.

Low-down: Junior G Zion Cruz fired in a season-high 27 points and handed off 6 assists when the Celtics pasted Olympus Prep (Williamstown), 85-53. C Mouhamed Sow, a Saint Peter’s recruit, collected 19 points, 5 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

15. Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep (20-0)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: The Warriors enter the Elite 25 after perfect regular season. They completed the feat last Thursday in an 84-46 blowout of Cocoa. Senior G Omar Figueroa scored a game-high 22 points, drilling five 3-pointers, and Ocypher Owen netted 11 points and snatched 5 rebounds. Next is the District 11-2A tournament that tips off this week. The Warriors are the favorite to win the FHSAA Class 2A state title.

16. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (14-6)

Previous: 8.

Low-down: At least the Warriors salvaged a game at the MAIT NIBC in Florida, toppling No. 25 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.), 82-65. Uncharacteristically, the Boys from rural southwestern Virginia are 1-5 over the last two weekends in the NIBC, including some lopsided losses. Next is No. 22 Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) Saturday at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Neb.

17. Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (0-0)

Previous: 16.

Low-down: Idle. Practice started in New York started last week for most schools.

18. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (0-0)

Previous: 18.

Low-down: Idle.

19. Archbishop Stepinac, White Plains, N.Y. (0-0)

Previous: 19.

Low-down: Idle. Practice started in New York started last week.

20. Simeon, Chicago (0-0)

Previous: 20.

Low-down: Idle. The Chicago Public Schools are still on pause but the rest of Illinois is up and running.

21. Pace Academy, Atlanta (21-1)

Previous: 22.

Low-down: The win streak pushed to 21 games after a 71-48 win against Therrell (Atlanta). The Class AA region tournament is next up for the Knights.

22. Millard North, Omaha, Neb. (21-1)

Previous: 24.

Low-down: Blasted Elkhorn South (Omaha), 87-71, and Lincoln Southwest, 96-68, setting up this weekend’s showdown with No. 16 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Heartland Hoops Classic in nearby Grand Island.

23. Vashon, St. Louis (7-0)

Previous: 23.

Low-down: After a pause in activities, the Wolverines returned to the hardwood with a hard-fought 60-52 win over St. Louis (Mo.) Christian. Four more games await Missouri’s top-ranked Class 4 club this week.

24. Paul VI, Chantilly, Va. (6-3)

Previous: 21.

Low-down: The Panthers spilt a pair of WCAC games last week. They lost to then-No. 2 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 89-77, and waxed Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), 121-74. Trevor Keels had a rare triple-double with 26 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and 3 steals vs. Good Counsel. Next scheduled game is WCAC powerhouse Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) Wednesday at home.

25. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (5-8)

Previous: 25.

Low-down: Went 1-2 for the second straight weekend at the MAIT NIBC. The Lakers hold on to the final spot in the Elite 25 but that losing trend must subside soon.

Dropped: No. 13 Lawrence North (Indianapolis).

High-Fives by Region

East

  1. Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (6-0)
  2. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (0-1)
  3. St. Raymond, Bronx, N.Y. (0-0)
  4. Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia (1-1)
  5. St. Benedict’s, Newark, N.J. (1-0)

Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Midwest

  1. Bellevue (Neb.) West (18-1)
  2. Notre Dame College Prep, Niles, Ill. (1-0)
  3. Cedar Falls, Iowa (12-0)
  4. Carmel, Ind. (16-2)
  5. Lawrence North, Indianapolis (17-2)

Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Southland

  1. Christian Brothers, Memphis, Tenn. (15-0)
  2. Carmel Christian, Matthews, N.C. (19-1)
  3. Richardson, Texas (17-1)
  4. Magnolia, Ark. (15-0)
  5. Bowling Green, Ky. (9-0)

Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Far West

  1. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (0-0)
  2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (0-0)
  3. O’Dea, Seattle (0-0)
  4. Sunnyslope, Phoenix (5-0)
  5. Timpview, Provo, Utah (16-3)

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.

Senior Writer and national analyst for Blue Media and compiles the Blue Star Elite 25 national boys and girls high school basketball and football rankings during the season. Lawlor, an award-winning writer, is a voting committee member and advisor for several national high school events, including the McDonald’s All-American Games. He previously wrote for USA TODAY and ESPN.com, where he was the national preps writer, while compiling the national rankings in four sports.

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