Only three new teams crack this week’s GrassrootsHoops.net FAB 50 national rankings, but there are also three new teams in the top 10. The recurring themes are to not harshly penalize teams that lose to another ranked foe, reward teams that have played tough schedules and reward teams that are still unbeaten at this point of the season.
By Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Mark Tennis
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The 64-47 win by unbeaten Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) over Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) in a showdown game at the Lions’ Fairfax State Preview illustrates many key principles for veteran rankings compilers.
Fairfax upped its record to 23-0 behind a combined 41 points by its excellent trio of guards: junior sharp-shooter Donald Gipson, cat-quick Lorne Currie Jr. and all-purpose threat Lindsey Drew. As a result, Fairfax moved up eight spots in this week’s rankings to No. 15.
Most of the other credible national polls had the Lions much higher, but because the teams from California ranked ahead of them at the time, No. 5 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.), No. 11 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and Sierra Canyon, had ventured out-of-state to play in national tournaments and showcase games, we slow-played the Lions, who were also ranked behind No. 13 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.).
The win by Fairfax also helped out Bishop Montgomery, which was ranked ahead of Fairfax in the preseason CalHiSports.com rankings and has done nothing to dispel the notion that it is one of the nation’s top teams. At the Fairfax State Preview, Bishop Montgomery defeated a solid Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) team 94-34, as senior guard Stevie Thompson Jr. outscored the Cubs by himself (37 points) despite sitting out the fourth quarter. As a result, Bishop Montgomery moved up seven spots in this week’s rankings to No. 13.
Even if Bishop Montgomery didn’t have one hard-to-explain loss, it would have trouble moving up rapidly from the spot it’s currently at in the rankings. Bishop Montgomery hasn’t ventured far from the Los Angeles basin and simply can’t be rewarded for its resume as some of the current top 10 teams are and can be. Unless a team is from a power state and unbeaten, its chances to climb in mythical national championship contention are not easy because a loss sends them tumbling in the FAB 50 and potentially out of it.
Which brings us to Sierra Canyon, which owns victories over No. 8 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), No. 18 Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) and No. 30 Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio). We contemplated leaving Sierra Canyon in front of DeMatha (which just defeated Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. 66-61 on Monday night), but the nature and margin of victory of Fairfax’s win meant we dropped the Trailblazers 10 spots, right in front of the Corona del Sol team it defeated at Hoophall West.
Wayne, which lost to Sierra Canyon on a last-second layup at the City of Palms Tournament in December, lost to unranked Wilmington (Ohio), but has a strong enough resume to not completely drop out of the FAB 50 this week. Not only did Wayne go 2-2 at the City of Palms, the Warriors own a win over No. 7 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). Had Wayne not played in and won some of those tough games, it would have been removed from this week’s rankings.
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A perfect example of a team scheduling to compete for the FAB 50 national title and put itself in position to earn the No. 1 spot should it win its games is seven-time champion Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.). This weekend the Warriors will venture to play in California for the first time since its 2006-07 No. 1 FAB 50 squad featuring Nolan Smith, Alex Legion and junior Brandon Jennings made the trek.
Oak Hill Academy doesn’t come West often, but when it does it makes sure to take on as tough an opponent(s) as it can. On February 6, the “Road Warriors” will battle No. 17 Sierra Canyon as that team looks to re-group from the Fairfax game. On Saturday February 7, coach Steve Smith’s club will battle No. 5 Bishop O’Dowd in a rematch of the Iolani Classic championship game from earlier this season. Oak Hill won that game 58-49 after trailing by as many as eight points in the first half.
Fairfax, meanwhile, will look to keep the positive momentum going as it will take on host and No. 11 Mater Dei in Saturday’s nightcap. The tables will be reserved, as Fairfax will be the team that has to venture into a hostile environment in order to pull out a key road win as Sierra Canyon attempted to do last Saturday night.
Updated Grassroots Hoops FAB 50
Boys Basketball National Team Rankings
(Seventh poll of the 2014-15 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, February 1; Previous ranking in listed in second column under “Prev.”; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included)
|1||1||Montverde Academy||(Montverde, Fla.)||26-1|
|3||3||Oak Hill Academy||(Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||33-1*|
|4||4||Cape Henry Collegiate||(Virginia Beach, Va.)||21-2|
|5||5||Bishop O'Dowd||(Oakland, Calif.)||15-3|
|7||10||Findlay Prep||(Henderson, Nev.)||19-1|
|8||11||DeMatha Catholic||(Hyattsville, Md.)||20-1|
|9||12||St. Vincent-St. Mary||(Akron, Ohio)||15-0|
|10||13||Wesleyan Christian Academy||(High Point, N.C.)||24-4|
|11||14||Mater Dei||(Santa Ana, Calif.)||19-3|
|13||20||Bishop Montgomery||(Torrance, Calif.)||23-1|
|15||23||Fairfax||(Los Angeles, Calif.)||23-0|
|16||16||St. Rita||(Chicago, Ill.)||17-2|
|17||7||Sierra Canyon||(Chatsworth, Calif.)||16-2|
|18||17||Corona del Sol||(Tempe, Ariz.)||22-1|
|19||9||Greensboro Day||(Greensboro, N.C.)||27-1|
|20||21||Roselle Catholic||(Roselle, N.J.)||15-2|
|21||22||Roman Catholic||(Philadelphia, Pa.)||19-1|
|22||26||Chaminade||(St. Louis, Mo.)||15-3|
|23||25||St. Anthony||(Jersey City, N.J.)||14-1|
|24||24||La Lumiere||(LaPorte, Ind.)||16-2|
|28||30||Villa Angela-St. Joseph||(Cleveland, Ohio)||13-2|
|29||35||Ely||(Pompano Beach, Fla.)||21-0|
|30||8||Wayne||(Huber Heights, Ohio)||14-3|
|32||32||Dominican||(Whitefish Bay, Wis.)||12-1|
|33||25||Archbishop Carroll||(Wayne, Pa.)||13-5|
|35||36||Thomas Jefferson||(Brooklyn, N.Y.)||20-2|
|36||19||Cardinal Gibbons||(Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)||25-1|
|37||37||East Kentwood||(Kentwood, Mich.)||13-0|
|38||38||Champlin Park||(Champlin, Minn.)||20-0|
|41||43||Parkview||(Little Rock, Ark.)||16-1|
|42||45||Plano West||(Plano, Texas)||22-2|
|43||44||Bishop Gorman||(Las Vegas, Nev.)||17-6|
|45||NR||South||(Blue Springs, Mo.)||17-0|
|46||NR||Wing's Academy||(Bronx, N.Y.)||19-2|
|47||48||Regis Jesuit||(Denver, Colo.)||17-0|
|48||49||Iowa City West||(Iowa City, Iowa)||15-0|
|50||NR||Sacred Heart||(Waterbury, Conn.)||14-0|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 39 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.); No. 40 John Carroll School (Bel Air, Md.); No. 47 Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.).
Bubble Teams: Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) 19-1; Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 21-2; Cathedral (Los Angeles, Calif.) 17-4; Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, Texas) 21-2; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 16-4; Central (Beaumont, Texas) 24-2; Damien (La Verne, Calif.) 20-2; De Soto (De Soto, Texas) 23-4; Franklin (Franklin, Ohio) 16-1; Germantown (Germantown, Wis.) 14-0; Lake Forest (Lake Forest, Ill.) 20-1; Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas) 20-4; Laney (Augusta, Ga.) 22-1; Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 20-2; Linden (Linden, N.J.) 12-4; Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 16-3; Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 16-5; Oldsmar Christian (Oldsmar, Fla.) 25-3; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 18-5; Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 18-3; Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.) 26-1; Putnam City West (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 15-2; Quality Education Academy (Winston-Salem, N.C.) 18-4; Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 15-3; Reitz (Evansville, Ind.) 19-0; Sagemont (Weston, Fla.) 22-3; Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) 14-1; St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 18-4; St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) 20-3; Stevens Point (Stevens Point, Wis.) 17-0; Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) 22-1; Valley (Las Vegas, Nev.) 21-1; Velma Jackson (Camden, Miss.) 22-2; Western International (Detroit, Mich.) 12-0; West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) 13-4; Word of God Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) 22-3.
Note: The Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and they were compiled by the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 15 years ago.