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SENSE OF DIRECTION: No. 7 AZ Compass Prep impresses at NIBC to earn Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ ranking; No. 6 Minnehaha Academy (MN) with daunting task this weekend

BENSALEM, Pa. — The biggest buzz from the Blue Star Media Elite 25 boys’ basketball rankings is the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC). It was looking to make a statement in a season that top-shelf teams needed competitive games and it has created a model that could be a new norm.

In January, the NIBC played a series of national games featuring several Elite 25 teams at the St. James Invitational in Springfield, Va. The ESPN cameras followed, online viewing was up and the level of play on the schoolboy level was unmatched.

Last weekend, the corona-wracked national scene shifted to the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in Florida, which hosted the NIBC in lieu of a traditional eight-team tournament. The event, which continues in central Florida for another three-day run on Thursday afternoon, rolled out nine games (plus one girls’ game with the host school) that included Elite 25 teams in each matchup.

Slam dunk!

Catch the action again this weekend as five of the six at the NIBC are Elite 25 teams. No. 1 Montverde (Fla.) Academy is clearly the nation’s best. It’s a deep gulf between coach Kevin Boyle’s team and the rest of the field. It’s doubtful the Eagles will drop a game on their home court this weekend. The lone outsider this weekend is Calvary Christian of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Two other storylines include:

Can No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) go at least 2-1 to erase last weekend’s 0-3 mark? Methinks, yes. Steve Smith is a future Naismith Hall of Fame coach and will fix the current mini slump.

No. 25 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) might have a sub-.500 record but are still worthy of Elite 25 status and proved it last weekend with a win over No. Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah).

Another team that made noise was No. 7 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.), a charter school near Phoenix. The Dragons (18-1) zoomed into the Elite 25 after going 2-1 at the NIBC and took Montverde to overtime before bowing. AZ Compass competes on the adidas-affiliated Grind Session circuit but it has made headway to earn a bid to the GEICO Nationals.

The NIBC schedule can be found here. Games will be shown live on BallerTV, ESPN3 and ESPNU.

This weekend, No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) heads north to face super senior Chet Holmgren and No. 6 Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis) Saturday. In Maryland, No. 2 DeMatha (Hyattsville) hosts No. 21 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) in a Saturday matinee.

OK, folks, that’s it for the last week in January. Before you know it the postseason will be upon us in some states while others such as Illinois, Michigan and New York crave to get started. Last week, New Jersey and portions of Pennsylvania began playing. That’s a very good thing!

The Elite 25 boys’ rankings are back on Feb. 9.

Until then stay safe, mask up, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly and support your local small businesses that struggle to stay open.

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

Blue Star Media Elite 25 Boys’ Basketball Rankings, Feb. 2, 2021

1. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (18-0)

Previous rank: 1.

Low-down: For the second time in less than a month, the nation’s unquestioned top team defeated then-No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 84-66, at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament National Interscholastic Basketball Conference event. The Eagles swept three Elite 25 teams and will host three NIBC games next week (Thursday-Saturday). MVA will play Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale), Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) and Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah) in three rematches.

2. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (7-0)

Previous: 2.

Low-down: The Stags had a close call but survived Washington Catholic Athletic Association rivals Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 67-64. Jordan Hawkins, a UConn recruit, netted 23 points and junior Tyrell Ward stuff the stat sheet with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Saturday it’s a true test with No. 21 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.).

3. Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (13-2)

Previous: 4.

Low-down: Coach Luke Barnwell’s team went 2-1 at the MAIT NIBC Invitational, stopping two Elite 25 teams but lost to No. 7 AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.), 50-47.

4. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (18-2)

Previous: 5.

Low-down: Defeated Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 64-46, and Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic, 79-52, at the Dr. Pepper Classic in Chattanooga.

5. Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (18-0)

Previous: 7.

Low-down: Junior G Fletcher Loyer, a Purdue recruit, capped a 2-0 week with 23 points when the Spartans romped over Peru, 74-41. The Spartans also defeated crosstown rivals Fort Wayne Northrop, 83-53.

6. Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, Minn. (4-0)

Previous: 9.

Low-down: Hercy Miller’s 18 points helped the Redhawks top Duluth East, 69-41. Miller recently whittled down college choices to Stanford, LSU and Vanderbilt. The Redhawks have a huge challenge this weekend with visiting No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) Saturday at 1 p.m. EST.

7. AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Ariz. (18-1)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: The Dragons went 2-1 at the NIBC, recording wins over No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 78-51, and No. ghghgh Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), 50-47. In the latter win, Creighton-recruit TyTy Washington totaled 12 points and 6 assists. Also took top-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy to overtime before falling 76-65.

8. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (13-4)

Previous: 3.

Low-down: So, the unthinkable occurred in Florida last weekend, where the Warriors were swept in three games at the MAIT NIBC Invitational by 27, 10 and 18 points. Next is No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) Thursday.

9. Milton, Alpharetta, Ga. (19-2)

Previous: 10.

Low-down: It was a magnificent result for the Indians knocking off the defending Class AAAAAAA state champions. Ohio State-bound Bruce Thornton produced 29 points and 8 assists, sophomore Kanaan Carlyle scored 25 points and sophomore Lebbeus Overton, an All-American football player, had a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds in a 90-77 throttling of Wheeler (Marietta). Entering the week, the Indians have won 16 straight games.

10. Wasatch Academy, Mount Pleasant, Utah (16-5)

Previous: 6.

Low-down: The Tigers went 1-2 at the MAIT NIBC Invitational in Florida and did stop No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 84-74.

11. Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (1-0)

Previous: 12.

Low-down: La Salle-bound Daeshon Shepherd scored 20 points to help beat Conwell-Egan (Fairless Hills), 80-43. The Vikings were supposed to play league rivals Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) on Monday but heavy snowfall forced a postponement.

12. Waxahachie, Texas (16-2)

Previous: 13.

Low-down: The program will shut down until Feb. 9 due to health and safety protocol. The Indians will make up any District 11-6A games at later dates.

13. Lawrence North, Indianapolis (16-1)

Previous: 14.

Low-down:  D.J. Hughes (14 points) and Shamar Avance (13) teamed for 27 points and the Wildcats beat Center Grove (Greenwood), 45-35. They also topped Jeffersonville, 55-50. Next up is a showdown with Carmel Thursday that will decide the Metropolitan Conference title.

14. Duncanville, Texas (19-1)

Previous: 16.

Low-down: Three District 11-6A games remain in the regular season, starting Friday with Cedar Hill at home.

15. Camden, N.J.. (1-0)

Previous: 20.

Low-down: The Panthers won their opener and then saw three future games canceled. Super sophomore D.J. Wagner scored a game-high 24 points, burying six 3-pointers, a 94-42 blowout of Cherry Hill West. New Jersey’s top-ranked team is scheduled for three games this week.

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

Previous: 15.

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

17. The Patrick School, Hillside, N.J. (2-0)

Previous: 21.

Low-down: It more than a month coming but the Celtics and the rest of New Jersey tipped off last week with two games. Junior PG Dionte Johnson dropped in 28 points, sinking 9-of-10 shots, and handed out 6 assists to defeat Mater Dei Prep (Middletown, N.J.), 69-42. Also beat Upper Room Christian (Dix Hills, N.Y.), 55-49, as UConn-recruit Samson Johnson scored 15 points.

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

Previous: 17.

Low-down: Idle.

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

Previous: 18.

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

20. Simeon, Chicago (0-0)

Previous: 19.

Low-down: Idle. The state of Illinois started practice on Feb. 1, but the Chicago Public Schools are still on pause.

21. Paul VI, Chantilly, Va. (5-2)

Previous: 22.

Low-down: The offense played on high octane last week in wins over WCAC rivals Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 104-53, and St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.), 114-79. The Panthers travel to No. 2 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) Saturday for a WCAC showdown.

22. Pace Academy, Atlanta (17-1)

Previous: 24.

Low-down: After a pause in play, the Knights defeated Washington (Atlanta), 94-52, and Langston Hughes (Fairburn, Ga.), 74-47.

23. Vashon, St. Louis (6-0)

Previous: 23.

Low-down: Idle.

24. Millard North, Omaha, Neb. (20-1)

Previous: 8.

Low-down: The Mustangs fell for the first time this season. Bellevue West, 81-69, but rebounded to beat North Star (Lincoln), 89-49. Last month, the Mustangs won Metro Conference Holiday Tournament championship, edging Bellevue West, 94-91, in two overtimes. That means a season split with another meeting in the Class A playoffs.

25. La Lumiere School, La Porte, Ind. (4-6)

Previous: 25.

Low-down: Went 1-2 last weekend at the MAIT NIBC Invitational and remain in the Elite 25 due to strength of schedule.

Dropped: No. 11 Atascocita (Humble, Texas).

High-Fives by Region

East

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

Midwest

  1. Bellevue (Neb.) West (15-1)
  2. St. Edward, Lakewood, Ohio (11-1)
  3. Carmel, Ind. (15-1)
  4. Cathedral, Indianapolis (14-1)
  5. Cedar Falls, Iowa (10-0)

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

Southland

  1. Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep (19-0)
  2. Christian Brothers, Memphis, Tenn. (14-0)
  3. Carmel Christian, Matthews, N.C. (19-1)
  4. Pebblebrook, Mableton, Ga. (19-2)
  5. Magnolia, Ark. (14-0)

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. Mountain Pointe, Phoenix (3-0)
  5. Timpview, Provo, Utah (15-3)

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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