BENSALEM, Pa. – Mention the month of February and suddenly the end is near. That is the regular season and in some cases the season.
After playing three months of basketball—although January still has two days left—the sense of anticipation for the playoffs and urgency naturally kick in for the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball teams. Whereas most state finish up in February, the postseason can extend deep in March for others. There are a select eight teams that will compete in the DICK’S Nationals slated for March 29-31 in New York, some entering after capturing state titles while others cherishing the invite as an annual rite of spring.
Last weekend the Montverde (Fla.) Academy Invitational Tournament gave teams a glimpse of the postseason. No. 1 Montverde won the tournament in dramatic fashion on a last-second 3-pointer that propelled the Eagles on their home court. In the next three weeks, there are a handful of events that are worthy of the “must-see” tag.
So, there are two this weekend that jump off the page, one on each coast.
In Hagerstown, Md., the Saint James Invitational Tournament starts on Thursday through Saturday. Besides the host school, two quarterfinal games of importance are No. 16 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) vs. Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) at 3 o’clock EST and No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) vs. Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Md.) at 8. The semifinals are Friday and the final is Saturday at 5:30.
The Nike Extravaganza XXIII touches down at the Meruelo Center at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. The two-day, three-session hoop bonanza—plus one girl’s game—tips Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. PST and it’s a 14-game bill with mostly southern California schools. Saturday’s game between Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Fairfax (Los Angeles) starts at 5:45.
That’s two quality events that are worth attending.
No. 25 Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) returns to the Elite 25 rankings after dropping three games over the holiday tournament season to three teams in the Elite 25.
The Elite 25 rankings return on Feb. 6 and after that the stretch run begins in earnest. Enjoy the games. Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys Basketball Rankings, Jan. 30, 2018
1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (26-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: In one of the more thrilling, high stakes games this season, the Eagles won their Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament championship, upending No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 69-67, in the final. Michael Devoe popped in the game winning 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left. Devoe tossed in a game-high 26 points and Duke-bound RJ Barrett had 23.
2. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (33-0)
Low-down: Another easy win for coach Steve Smith’s club after a 94-54 thrashing of
Christ School (Arden, N.C.). The Warriors are off to the Dr. Pepper TEN Classic at The McCallie School (Chattanooga, Tenn.) for two games this weekend against Tennessee competition.
3. University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (22-1)
Low-down: The Sharks defeated Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale), 86-70, and Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale), 79-64. Only four games left in the regular season.
4. Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif. (23-0)
Previous rank: 5.
Low-down: The Knights remained unbeaten topping Fairfax (Los Angeles), 60-43, at the Rolling Hills Prep State Preview. Ethan Anderson flipped in 24 points. Earlier in the week, Fletcher Tynen’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer and the Knights clipped Canwell-Sacred Heart (Los Angeles), 67-66. Tynen finished with 10 points but David Singleton had 29.
5. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (20-2)
Low-down: The Panthers stretched the win streak to 15 games, edging Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, 65-62, at the NJ-DC Collision in Washington. The DC area teams went 3-1 on the day. Jeremy Robinson scored 17 points and took down 4 rebounds. Meanwhile the Panthers are 10-0 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference after two wins last week.
6. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev. (24-3)
Low-down: Placed second at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament, dropping a heartbreaker to top-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy, 69-67, in the final. Oregon-bound Bol Bol scored 19 points and Reggie Chaney had 16 in the setback.
7. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (19-1)
Low-down: Game MVP Myles Dread posted 18 points and 10 rebounds and Terrance Williams had 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds to beat Immaculate Conception (Montclair, N.J.), 68-57 at the NJ-DC Collision on the Purple Eagles’ home floor.
8. Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (17-1)
Low-down: The Matadors finished third at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament, downing Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, La.), 60-55. Immanuel Allen had 20 points and Antonio Reeves added 14 in the rebound win. They lost for the first time this season to No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 83-74, in the semifinals. There are four games in the regular season.
9. Denton (Texas) Guyer (29-1)
Low-down: Grayson Carter pumped in 17 points in an 83-59 win over Allen. Oklahoma-bound De’Vion Harmon and Jalen Wilson each scored 13 points during a 62-56 victory over McKinney. The Wildcats are 9-0 in District 6-6A.
10. Simeon, Chicago (20-3)
Low-down: The Wolverines won twice in the Chicago Public League and then traveled to the East Coast to hold off Polytechnic (Baltimore), 71-64. Talen Horton-Tucker provided a game-high 34 points, 8 boards and 5 dimes. In an 80-63 win over Curie (Chicago) Messiah Jones collected a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
11. Riverside Academy, Reserve, La. (24-0)
Low-down: The Rebels lost to small-school powerhouse Rayville, 82-68, at the Howard Davis Hall of Fame Classic but the result of this such game won’t be counted against their overall record.
12. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (18-3)
Low-down: Game MVP Earl Timberlake, Jr. scored 20 points and cleared 7 rebounds to knock off Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.), 79-69, at the NJ-DC Collision in Washington.
13. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (15-3)
Low-down: PG Tyger Campbell orchestrated the offense with 18 points and 10 assists in a 78-45 win over Lincoln Park (Chicago).
14. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (20-2)
Low-down: The Indians put in overtime last week with four wins, including a 76-38 blowout of North Cobb (Kennesaw). The regular season winds down this week with games against Kennesaw Mountain (Kennesaw) Tuesday and Hillgrove (Powder Springs) Friday.
15. East, Memphis, Tenn. (16-3)
Low-down: The Mustangs are back on track after peeling off three straight wins last week. They have three more games this week.
16. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (17-2)
Low-down: The Buffaloes won twice at the Quincy (Ill.) Shootout, capped by defeating Heritage Academy (Hilton Head Island, S.C.), 65-46. Malik Hall scored 21 points to earn the game’s Most Valuable Player.
17. Garfield, Seattle (18-0)
Previous rank: 17.
Low-down: Defeated Bishop Blanchet (Seattle), 80-49, and O’Dea (Seattle), 74-61. The regular season concludes Friday at Franklin (Seattle).
18. Salesian College Prep, Richmond, Calif. (22-1)
Low-down: The Pride have won 11 straight and have three chances this week to push that streak to 14 games. Connecticut-bound G James Akinjo drives his team’s engine.
19. Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (17-2)
Low-down: After defeating Lincoln (Philadelphia), 66-50, for an eighth consecutive victory, the Panthers have three games left in the regular season.
20. Oak Ridge, Orlando, Fla. (18-3)
21. Greensboro (N.C.) Country Day (23-3)
Low-down: Defeated North Raleigh Christian Academy (Raleigh), 61-26. Now the Bengals have a showdown at No. 25 Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point) on Tuesday.
22. Etiwanda, Calif. (23-1)
Low-down: The Eagles stretched their win streak to 19 games after dispatching Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga), 77-43.
23. Clarkston, Mich. (11-1)
Low-down: The Wolves warmed up a massive league matchup defeating West Bloomfield, 61-48. Next up is Hazel park Tuesday for first place in the Oakland Activities Association-Red.
24. Westlake, Austin, Texas (27-3)
Low-down: The Chaps won two games improving to 8-0 in District 25-6A.
25. Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C. (22-4)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Trojans re-enter the Elite 25 in time for Tuesday’s home game with No. 21 Greensboro (N.C.) Day School. The league rivals meet again on Feb. 6.
Dropped: No. 25 Trinity, Louisville, Ky.
High-Fives by Region
- Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (15-2)
- St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (25-2)
- Roselle (N.J.) Catholic (13-3)
- Hudson Catholic, Jersey City, N.J. (11-4)
- Mount Vernon, N.Y. (15-1)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn. (14-1)
- Curie, Chicago (19-3)
- Orr, Chicago (18-3)
- Riley, South Bend, Ind. (16-0)
- Wayne, Huber Heights, Ohio (15-0)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Cox Mill, Concord, N.C. (17-3)
- Pebblebrook, Mableton, Ga. (19-2)
- Mountain Brook, Birmingham, Ala. (25-5)
- Scott County, Georgetown, Ky. (21-1)
- Trinity, Louisville, Ky. (20-2)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (17-2)
- Rancho Christian, Temecula, Calif. (21-2)
- Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (16-3)
- Jefferson, Portland, Ore. (15-3)
- Gonzaga Prep, Spokane, Wash. (18-0)
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.