All 50 ranked teams written up with explanations for why they were placed in these positions with comparisons to preseason ranking. The FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com is the official rankings of the National Sports News Service, which date back to the 1952 season. Duncanville of Texas is the 2021-22 mythical national champion, the third public school program in seven season to finish as the FAB 50 No. 1 and the first Texas program in 20 years.
Compiled by Ronnie Flores
(Preseason ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included.)
RELATED: “In The Paint” Show | The Future Of Big-Time HS Basketball | FAB 50 Rankings Criteria | Ballislife Podcast Network | How To Create A High School March Madness | History of High School Team Rankings | All-Time No. 1’s | Final East Top 20 | Final Southeast Top 20 | Final Midwest Top 20 | Final Southwest Top 20 | Final West Top 20 | 2021-22 Mr. Basketball USA | 2021-22 Underclass POYs | Final 2020-21 FAB 50 | Final 2019-20 FAB 50 | Final 2018-19 FAB 50 | Final 2017-18 FAB 50 | Final 2016-17 FAB 50 | Final 2015-16 FAB 50 | Final 2014-15 FAB 50 | Final 2013-14 FAB 50 | Final 2012-13 FAB 50
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1. (7) Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas) 35-1
What put the Panthers in position to finish as the No. 1 ranked team in the country was their non-district schedule. Coach David Peavy’s club scheduled aggressively, and by the time it played then No. 1 Montverde Academy at Hoophall West in Phoenix in early December, it was its sixth FAB 50 ranked opponent in 10 games. Duncanville’s 67-66 buzzer-beating victory on a 3-pointer by junior guard Aric Demings turned out to be the biggest shot of the 2021-22 season. That’s because the Eagles went on to capture the GEICO Nationals against some of the nation’s best academy-type programs. Duncanville rose to No. 1 after that victory, but lost the pole position after falling in overtime by two points (60-58) to Richardson (Texas) in late December at the Whataburger Tournament. Due to the nature of that loss and because both Texas teams participate in the same UIL playoff division, Duncanville never fell behind Montverde Academy in the rankings and Richardson got to as high as No. 7 in the FAB 50. Duncanville was behind then No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) for the second half of the regular season, but when the Buffaloes were upset at GEICO Nationals’ opening game it catapulted the Panthers back to No. 1 in the FAB 50. Duncanville downed No. 28 McKinney (Texas), 69-49, in the UIL Class 6A title game after that club downed Richardson by two points (54-52) in the regional quarterfinals and beat seven FAB 50 ranked teams, including No. 5 Centennial (Corona, Calif.), 75-70, and No. 32 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.), 80-73. McDonald’s All-American Anthony Black (13 ppg, 58 percent FG, 5 rpg, 3.5 apg) was named District 11-6A Offensive Player of the Year and junior Ron Holland (15 ppg, 60 percent FG, 8 rpg, 2 spg) its overall player of the year for a team that is the third UIL program to capture the FAB 50 title in 20 years, joining Lincoln (Dallas) in 2001-02 and Yates (Houston) in 2009-10. Duncanville has now won three consecutive Class 6A state crowns and been Texas’ top ranked team for the past four seasons and should field another strong team in 2022-23
2. (1) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 22-4
There was some thought to place the Eagles at No. 1 after capturing GEICO Nationals for the second consecutive season and the sixth time overall since 2013, which was coach Kevin Boyle’s second season at the helm. In his first season (2011-12), the Eagles lost in the GIECO Nationals title game and finished at No. 9. They have not finished lower than No. 5 in the past 10 seasons. Perhaps if the Eagles had a few less losses, there would have been a stronger push to place them No. 1 for the third consecutive season, but the head-to-head result with No. 1 Duncanville ultimately couldn’t be overcome. Montverde Academy downed AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) in its GEICO Nationals opener, 72-63, beat No. 6 IMA Academy in comeback fashion in the semifinals, 62-57, to avenge the two losses in National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) play and downed No. 4 Link Academy, 60-49, in the championship game. Montverde Academy also split games with NIBC champ and No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy. Regardless of its final ranking, it was another impressive season for a program that lost 2020-21 National Junior of the Year Jalen Duren to early enrollment at Memphis. Duke-bound Dariq Whitehead stepped up to average 17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 3.8 apg after averaging 10.4 ppg and 8.3 ppg, respectively, on back-to-back FAB 50 title teams in 2021 and 2020. Whitehead hit clutch shots down the stretch in the GEICO Nationals victories over IMG Academy and Link Academy, while Texas-bound Dillon Mitchell also played to an All-American level. The talented forward averaged 11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and 1.4 bpg at GEICO Nationals and was MVP of the City of Plays Classic after the Eagles downed No. 8 Oak Hill Academy in the title game, 60-55.
3. (3) Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 25-2
Regardless of how its season finished, it shouldn’t diminish the fact Luke Barnwell’s unit had a superlative year in the first full season of the eight-team National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC). After losing to Montverde Academy in the 2021 NIBC title game, the Buffaloes only lost one game conference and regular season game. After losing to Montverde Academy 53-44 during NIBC weekend in December, the Buffaloes bounced back with a 71-61 victory during January NIBC weekend, as Kansas-bound Gradey Dick (20 points) and junior Scotty Middleton (19 points) lead the way. In addition to the split with MVA, the Buffaloes handed No. 4 Link Academy its only regular season loss, defeated No. 6 IMG Academy twice, downed No. 8 Oak Hill Academy (64-61) and No. 11 La Lumiere (60-45). Despite losing two All-Americans and four starters, the Buffaloes finished No. 3 in the FAB 50 for the second consecutive season, as Dick stepped up and became a bonafide Mr. Basketball USA candidate by averaging 18 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2 apg and 2 spg while being named NIBC MVP. The field was considered wide-open heading into GIECO Nationals because of depth and balance and that turned out to be accurate when the top-seeded Buffaloes were upset by No. 8 seed Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.), 59-56, behind a 3-pointer from the left corner with four seconds remaining by sophomore Julian Sensley. Had Sunrise Christian captured GEICO Nationals, it would have captured the program’s first ever FAB 50 crown. Also turning in an All-American campaign for Barnwell’s club was Duke-bound Mark Mitchell (16.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 2.7 apg.). Junior Layden Blocker also his terrific moments for a club that spend a majority of the regular season ranked No. 1.
4. (40) Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) 34-2
As a first-year program, we decided to slow play the Lions in the preseason even though we knew their talent level exceeded their positioning. We should of had the Lions at least 15-20 spots higher, but even then they still would have exceeded preseason expectations, losing only one game in the regular season and advancing to GEICO Nationals title game. Coach Rodney Perry’s club beat a host of quality clubs and were sitting at 26-0 entering a match-up with then No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy. Behind their terrific front court, the Lions were in range to pull off the win before the Buffaloes executed a bit better down the stretch and won, 74-65. Link Academy’s chances at avenging that loss went out the window when the Buffaloes were upset in the first round of GEICO Nationals by a Prolific Prep team the Lions already beat twice during the regular season. After defeating No. 8 Oak Hill Academy, 81-67, in its opening round game, Link Academy took care of Prolific Prep, 60-53, in its semifinal contest. The Lions were right in the championship game versus Montverde Academy until Dariq Whitehead hit a jumper to give MVA a 55-49 lead with 1:30 remaining in the game. Tennessee-bound Julian Phillips was Link’s only double digit scorer in the title game with 16 points. Jordan Walsh and Phillips were both McDonald’s All-American choices with Michigan-bound Tarris Reed the third anchor on the stellar front line.
5. (14) Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 33-1
Similar to No. 4 Link Academy, the Huskies exceeded preseason expectations although their postponing was in line with the talent level at coach Josh Giles’ disposal. Usually the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has four or five teams in the final FAB 50, but even though only two teams join the Huskies in the final rankings, it doesn’t at all diminish what they accomplished. They were impressive in closing out a tight game versus NorCal open champ Modesto Christian with a 11-2 run en route to a 59-50 victory in the CIF open title game at the Golden One Center in Sacramento. It was realistically the only one of seven post-season games Giles’ club did not dominate. In fact, its closest margin of victory against SoCal open competition was a 68-48 win over No. 43 Harvard-Westlake, a team that split with No. 32 and state No. 2 Sierra Canyon. After avenging a CIF Southern Section open playoff loss to Harvard-Westlake, Sierra Canyon was no match for the Huskies in the SoCal open final, falling 83-59. All five of Centennial’s starters reached double figures in the win over Sierra Canyon and four of them will be back. The only graduating senior is Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball choice Donovan Dent (New Mexico). Two hours before Centennial wrapped up its state crown, No. 1 Duncanville won the Texas Class 6A state crown after defeating Centennial and Sierra Canyon on back-to-back nights in Texas back in November. That 75-70 setback was the only loss for a program that finished No. 22 in 2020-21 with four sophomore starters. That season, CIF basketball was a spring sport and Centennial chose not to play in the regional because there was no state championships. This was actually the program’s first CIF state crown with the Huskies finishing as Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
6. (2) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 21-5
Since capturing the FAB 50 crown 2018-19 in the second season under current coach Sean McAloon, the Ascenders have been right in the thick of the FAB 50 title race and were competitive once again this season. This talented group only lost to other NIBC clubs, falling twice to regular season champ Sunrise Christian Academy, splitting with No. 8 Oak Hill Academy and No. 11 La Lumiere. The highlight of the regular season was twice defeating No. 2 Montverde Academy, 65-64 and 57-53. After losing to La Lumiere at the Metro Classic, the Ascenders defeated the Lakers in the first round of GEICO Nationals, 76-51. In the semifinals against Montverde Academy, they had a 47-41 lead after three quarters but were outscored, 21-10, in the final quarter and lost 62-57. IMG gave a valiant effort at GEICO even though it played without injured Alabama-bound point guard Jaden Bradley, a three-year standout for McAloon. Four-year standout Jarace Walker averaged 16.7 ppg (68 percent from the field) 8.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, and 2.2 bpg while shooting guard Keyonte George (Baylor) averaged 17 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 3.1 apg, including 21.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg at GEICO Nationals. Had IMG Academy held its lead in the third game with Montverde Academy, or if Link Academy would have been GEICO Nationals champ, the results still would have pointed toward placing Duncanville at No. 1 since both of those clubs lost to first round loser Sunrise Christian Academy.
7. (21) Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 26-2
After capturing the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 4A state crown, the Eagles were the favorites at the inaugural State Champions Invitational, which was created this year by Paragon Marketing Group as a spin off of GEICO Nationals for eligible state championship clubs. The Eagles answered any questions about which was the best of the four teams in field by defeating No. 23 Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) in the semifinals, 59-37, as Central Florida commit Taylor Hendricks led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds. CCA was even better versus No. 36 Auburn (Wash.) in the championship game at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., dominating the Trojans from the opening tip on both ends of the floor en route to a 71-44 victory. CCA jumped out to leads of 18-4 and 24-5 and never looked back, as all five starters hit for double figures with tourney MVP Hendricks finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. As impressive as Calvary Christian Academy was in its two SCI wins, it had nowhere to rise in the final FAB 50 after losing to unranked Milton (Ga.) and to GEICO Nationals champ Montverde Academy at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by Illinois-bound Skyy Clark. No. 6 IMG Academy, of course, beat MVA twice during the regular season. Florida Atlantic-bound Brenen Lorient, Michigan-bound Gregg Glenn and juniors Carl Cherenfant and Marvel Allen rounded up the excellent lineup for coach Cilk McSweeney. If the SCI falls on the ideal dates and can add some power states such as Texas and California, it will one day be as coveted a title as GEICO Nationals.
8. (6) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 33-8
The 81-67 loss to No. 4 Link Academy in the opening round of GEICO Nationals marked an end of an era in high school basketball, as it was the last game for longtime Warriors coach Steve Smith. He took over the program in 1985-86 and after an early rough patch were some of the nation’s top programs refused to play academy-type schools, Smith cleaned up the reputation of his program and it helped all independent academies going forward. For over three decades his team was the standard-bearer as far as bringing in talent from all over the country, meshing it into a fine team and getting out on the road and challenging itself against the best competition. If Smith wasn’t successful, it’s hard to imagine GEICO Nationals and the NIBC existing. Smith’s last team played right to the level expected in the preseason: competitive in the NIBC and a tough out for any team in the country. The Warriors had one poor outing vs. AZ Compass Prep (78-55) and lost twice to No. 2 Montverde Academy, while splitting with No. 6 IMG Academy and No. 11 La Lumiere. Another terrific win for this club was a 61-54 triumph at the Metro Classic over No. 9 Roselle Catholic. Smith’s top player and 34th McDonald’s All-American choice was big guard Chris Livingston, who averaged 18.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 3.2 apg. Other backcourt standouts included Judah Mintz and Caleb Foster, while Devin Ree was an unsung hero upfront. Smith captured the GEICO Nationals title in 2016 (when the team finished No. 2 in the FAB 50) captured its last FAB 50 title in 2012 (when it did not play at GEICO Nationals) and finished No. 1 in the FAB 50 seven times overall. The 2016 team was the final one of eight over the years that finished No. 2 in the FAB 50. Only once since the FAB 50 began 1987-88 were the Warriors unranked to begin the season (1988-89).
9. (20) Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 29-2
The No. 2 seed in the final New Jersey Tournament of Champions, coach Dave Boff’s club was able to avenge its only regular season loss with a 61-58 victory over No. 12 Camden in the championship game. Senior Braxton Jones hit a jumper to give the Lions a 58-57 lead with 27.7 seconds remaining in overtime and it was his only points of the hotly-contested contest. North Carolina-bound Simeon Wilcher, a junior, had a big game with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Rich Brisco added 10 points and eight rebounds. Camden came into the game No. 10 in the FAB 50 and had beaten the Lions 67-64 in the season opener for both teams. Wilcher averaged 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 7.1 apg for a club whose only other loss was to No. 9 Oak Hill Academy and will go down as the last team to capture the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s TOC crown. Roselle Catholic also captured its fourth TOC crown since 2013, while its 2020 team also qualified before the season was cut short by COVID-19. The TOC’s first champ, 1988-89 St. Anthony of Jersey City, is considered one of the best high school teams of all-time and the TOC was valuable for national rankings purposes, but the vote to end it passed overwhelmingly, 33-4, with two abstentions. The thought process behind the decision is the extension of the season benefits few and now the regular season will be extended a week for the benefit on many more.
10. (NR) Weddington (Matthews, N.C.) 31-0
After finishing 18-0 and winning the North Carolina High School Athletic Associationx(NCHSAA) Class 3A title in 2020-21, the Warriors should have received more preseason consideration in the nation’s longest-running weekly rankings. As it stands, they finish as the highest ranked team that wasn’t on our preseason radar after moving up to Class 4A, capturing the state title with an unblemished mark and finishing the season with a 49-game winning streak. The Warriors copped their second consecutive state title with a 75-58 victory over Panther Creek (Cary, N.C.), as Belmont-bound Kyle Frazier (21 points), William & Mary-bound Chase Lowe (20 points) and Presbyterian-bound A.J. Cook (17 points) led a balanced attack. Lowe averaged 17.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.4 apg and 2.6 spg, Frazier averaged 15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 2.1 apg, while Cook averaged 12.1 ppg, 3.2 apg and 2.1 spg for a senior-oriented bunch.
11. (28) La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 20-5
After an uncharacteristic 10-10 season in 2020-21 that was plagued by COVID-19 and poor shooting performances against top teams, we slow played the Lakers in the preseason. Coach Patrick Holmes’ club bounced back nicely and was ultra-competitive in the NIBC, finishing as the fifth and final NIBC club ranked in the FAB 50. Behind a much-improved backcourt, La Lumiere split games with No. 6 IMG Academy and No. 8 Oak Hill Academy, with the other losses coming against NIBC champ Sunrise Christian and FAB 50 No. 2 Montverde Academy (twice). All-American candidate and Notre Dame-bound J.J. Starling averaged 17.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 3.1 apg, while dynamic sixth man Aden Holloway averaged 16.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.0 apg. Jeremy Fears also had a terrific season for Holmes while averaging 9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.1 app and 2.2 spg. La Lumiere was able to stay in front of No. 12 Camden because of the IMG Academy split and playing MVA relatively closer. Next season, the NIBC will expand to 10 teams with FAB 50 bubble club Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) and AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) joining a conference that could have as many as seven teams ranked in the 2022-23 preseason FAB 50.
12. (4) Camden (Camden, N.J.) 31-3
It was a bitter ending for the top seed in the final New Jersey TOC, as the Panthers had high hopes to win the coveted title. They were the prohibitive preseason favorite and took on a Roselle Catholic team it beat during the regular season. The game went into overtime and Camden had a chance to take the lead with 4.5 seconds remaining on a pull-up 17-foot jumper from junior D.J. Wagner, but the shot was off. After two made free throws by Roselle Catholic, Wagner had a chance to tie it at the buzzer but his heave near half court was off. As it stands, The High will go down as the last public school to capture the TOC back in 1999-2000 when Wagner’s father, Dajuan, led the Panthers to a No. 16 final FAB 50 ranking. As for this edition of the Panthers, their only other losses were in back-to-back games to GEICO Nationals champ Montverde Academy (52-40) and to State Champions Invitational champ Calvary Christian Academy (66-48). A two-time Gatorade State POY, Wagner (19.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.5 spg, and 3.3 apg) has led Camden to a 73-4 mark in his three varsity seasons, but came up just short in his only legitimate opportunity to capture a TOC crown, as New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) clubs didn’t have full post-seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21 because of COVID-19. With Wagner and 7-foot center Aaron Bradshaw back in 2022-23, The High will be in the thick of the FAB 50 title race for the third consecutive season.
13. (29) Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) 37-1
We were way ahead of the curve when it came to giving the Hilltoppers the national acclaim they deserved after a 13-1 season shortened by COVID-19 in 2020-21. Glenbard West lived up to expectations and then some, winning the IHSA Class 4A state title with a dominant 56-34 win over Whitney Young (Chicago). Center Braden Huff and Paxten Warden led the way with 19 points each. Glenbard West had no trouble with Bolingbrook in the state semifinals (77-47) and actually beat Whitney Young (the Chicago Public League champ) twice. This well-oiled unit will go down as one of the best teams in Illinois history, but from a national perspective can’t climb any higher. The Warriors lost to No. 32 Sierra Canyon on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and No. 12 Camden defeated the Trailblazers, 66-62. Huff, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year headed to Gonzaga, averaged 16.8 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg, 1.5 spg and 1.5 bpg, while Army-bound Bobby Durkin averaged 12.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.3 apg, Warden averaged 11.6 ppg and 3.7 rpg, and Princeton-bound Caden Pierce averaged 11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 5.1 apg.
14. (BB) Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 22-4
The Patriots closed out their season in grand fashion, avenging three losses to No. 15 Gorman, including a 77-61 setback to the Gaels in the NIAA Class 5A Southern Final, with a state final victory. In that game, Liberty and Gorman hooked up for the fourth time and the Gales led 52-46, but the Patriots outscored the nine-time defending state champion 8-2 down the stretch to force overtime. Liberty took a four-point lead, then Gorman got a 3-pointer from John Mobley with 2.4 seconds to go to cut its deficit to one point and incredibly stole the inbounds pass. A last-ditch 3-point attempt, however, was off and Liberty held on for a 62-63 championship game win. Many times, the timing off a loss plays a big role in the final rankings and Gorman couldn’t be ranked higher than Liberty because it lost its final game of the season to the state champion. Yes, Liberty had a stinker loss to unranked Serra (Gardena, Calif.), but it’s not as if the Patriots playing Gorman close was a fluke. Liberty had a 19-point lead on Gorman in the title game of the Tarkanian Classic, but the Gaels pulled out an incredible double overtime victory. Liberty also gets credit for a 79-62 win over No. 30 Oak Cliff Faith Family and a playoff win over a talented Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) club. Co-State Player of the Year and St. Mary’s-bound Josh Jefferson average 17.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 3.8 apg while sophomore point guard Dedan Thomas Jr., who came up big against Gorman in the final outing, averaged 13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.4 apg and 2.0 spg. Liberty was a bit perplexed it wasn’t chosen for the State Champions Invitational, but it’s unlikely Thomas would have played because of injury.
15. (26) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 30-1
After defeating Spanish Springs (Sparks, Nev.) in the NIAA Class 5A semifinals, the Gaels (ranked No. 11 at the time) were riding a 43-game winning streak entering the state final vs. then No. 35 Liberty. Coach Grant Rice’s program wasn’t able to extend its winning streak or state championship winning streak of nine in 2020-21 because the season was cancelled in Nevada, but both came to a halt when Liberty pulled off the 66-62 win in double overtime. Sure Gaels’ supporters were disappointed with the outcome (and the drop in the rankings following), but it’s not as if Liberty wasn’t a quality team with a solid resume. It would be tough for any club in this range of the FAB 50 to beat a team like Liberty four times, including twice in a week. Gorman had to drop 21 spots when they lost to No. 32, and fell behind Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.). The reason was Sierra Canyon’s season was still ongoing and it still had an opportunity to take out No. 5 Centennial in the California open playoffs. That never materialized and Gorman eventually kept rising back to the level it played during the season as the rest of the country wrapped up its post-season. Co-State Player of the Year Darrion Williams, a Nevada recruit, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in his final game, while sophomore sharpshooter John Mobley Jr. had 20 points. Rice has a young core returning and should rate in the preseason in this range once again.
16. (BB) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 31-5
Perhaps it was because of their abbreviated 2020-21 season when they went 7-4, but we decided to keep the Panthers out of the preseason rankings and it turned out to be the wrong choice. There was more player movement than usual in the powerful Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) and none of its teams got a full season in 2020-21 because of COVID-19, but considering PVI started at No. 4 in 2020-21 and the last time the program wasn’t ranked in the preseason prior to this season was 2015-16, it wasn’t a sound choice. The Panthers proved that by capturing their first WCAC tourney crown since 2013-14 (the program went unbeaten in regular season play in 2017-18) with a 42-41 victory over No. 26 Bishop McNamara. Coach Glen Farello’s club beat McNamara two out of three games and its two losses to game WCAC foe Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) was offset by a split with DeMatha Catholic (which began at No. 8 in the preseason), a split with No. 32 Sierra Canyon and victories over No. 18 Imhotep Charter and No. 34 Mt. St. Joseph. The graduation loss of WCAC Player of the Year and four-year standout Dug McDaniel will be tough, but this program should be in the FAB 50 mix once again next season as it carried 12 underclassmen and only one other senior (Bryce Downey) other than McDaniel. Included in that group is Jaquan Womack, one of three freshmen and the player who scored the winning lay-up with less than one second remaining in the WCAC title game off a pretty feed from the Michigan-bound McDaniel.
17. (22) North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 27-3
The Charging Wildcats finished right in the range expected on them in the preseason after capturing the program’s second consecutive Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) Class 6A state crown. North Little Rock closed out the season with a 65-47 victory over Bentonville, as guard Nick Smith Jr. netted 25 points. For coach Johnny Rice, it was technically his program’s third consecutive state crown, as the 2019-20 6A final was canceled because of COVID-19, and his sixth in 10 seasons. The 2020-21 club began on the FAB 50 bubble and finished No. 47, but the expectations for this club were much higher after Smith transferred over from Sylvan Hills (Sherwood, Ark.). Rice’s club lost to No. 6 IMG Academy (80-59), No. 7 Calvary Christian Academy (64-55) and to No. 20 Jonesboro (62-48), but the Jonesboro loss at the Barry Pruitt Hurricane Classic was offset by victories over No. 29 Beaumont United and No. 30 Oak Cliff Faith Family, plus quality clubs Kimball (Dallas, Texas), Richardson (Texas), Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) and Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.). Smith, the two-time Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Player of the Year who some feel is the nation’s top recruit in the 2022 class, averaged 26.5 ppg, 8 rpg, and 7.3 apg, while fellow McDonald’s All-American Kel’el Ware (Oregon) averaged 20.3 ppg, 12 rpg and 5.7 bpg.
18. (10) Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 27-4**
The 2020-21 club could get no higher than No. 20 in the East Region because a COVID-19 interruption forced the Panthers to miss the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) state tourney, but this year’s club was able to complete the task. In fact, there wasn’t much surprise Imhotep dispatched of New Castle (Pa.) rather easily, 54-39, in the Class 5A final. After all, it also easily took down Chester in the state semifinals, 66-41. Junior Justin Edwards led the way in the title game with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals, while fellow junior Rahmir Burno added 12 points and six rebounds. The Panthers started the season with a 60-57 loss to preseason No. 18 Reading (Pa.), but were able to climb back up in the rankings with victories over No. 34 Mt. St. Joseph, No. 35 Neumann-Goretti, No. 37 St. Frances Academy and highly-regarded Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.). The other losses came against No. 6 IMG Academy (88-69), No. 16 Paul VI (59-50) and in overtime to cross-town Lincoln, a team it split with. The PIAA’s top rated club was led by Edwards, who averaged 18.3 mpg and 8.3 rpg. Burno is already a two-time all-state choice while sophomore guard Ahmad Nowell is one of the best players in his class nationally.
19. (31) Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 26-3
We rated the Cardinals as the slight favorites in the race for the NYC Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Class AA title over No. 24 Archbishop Stepinac. At the end of the day, the clubs split four games, but it was Hayes that won the city title with a 79-59 victory. Senior forward Tobe Awaka had 24 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, while super sophomore Ian Jackson had 21 points, four assists and three rebounds in the title game. In the semifinals, Hayes was able to avenge its only other loss with a 73-62 win over a St. Francis Prep (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) that was for a time the highest ranked New York FAB 50 team. Awaka was named the CHSAA’s MVP after sporting norms of 19.2 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 2.0 apg and 3.0 bpg, while Jackson (19.5 ppg) was also named first team all-state.
20. (NR) Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 28-3
The Hurricane got their season off to a grand start by knocking off preseason No. 22 North Little Rock in the Barry Pruitt Hurricane Classic title game, 62-48, as junior Isaac Harrell was named MVP. Jonesboro was no match for No. 4 Link Academy in its next game (72-41), but did not lose in-state en route to the Class 5A state crown, the program’s fifth since 2013-14. Jonesboro capped the season off with a 55-28 rout of Marion, as Oklahoma St.-bound Quion Williams led the way with 17 points. Deion Buford-Wesson also had a big game with 15 points for a club that lost games to Amarillo (Texas) and Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), the latter which was FAB 50 ranked for a majority of the season. The Hurricane lost to Dr. Phillips 55-44 and No. 21 Orlando Christian Prep lost to the same club, 48-37.
21. (23) Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) 26-4**
Not having an open division or tournament of champions type format really hurts fans of FHSAA basketball wanting to see the best teams duke it out in the state title game. Fortunately this season, Florida’s top teams played tough schedules and the top three ranked preseason clubs all participated in the City of Palms Tournament. We began defending Class 7A champ Dr. Phillips as the top-ranked team, but No. 7 and defending Class 3A champ Calvary Christian beat that club, 55-51, and OCP lost to Dr. Phillips, but that club didn’t end up repeating while the Warriors rolled to their second consecutive Class 2A state crown with a 66-49 win over Sagemont (Weston, Fla.). A.J. Brown (Ohio University) had 21 points while Ven-Allen Lubin (Notre Dame) had 15 points and 11 rebounds in their final high school game. OCP played a much tougher schedule than it did last season when it finished 28-0 and this season finished right in the range expected of it in the preseason with key victories over St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) and Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) with its other losses coming against Calvary Christian in overtime (73-66), to No. 2 Montverde Academy (75-34) and to cross-town Olympia by two points in its second game. Brown averaged 17.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg while Lubin averaged 14.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg.
22. (NR) Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) 26-2
The Tigers moved slowly into the FAB 50 and were sitting at No. 43 entering the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division I Final Four at the University of Dayton Arena. After knocking off St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) in the semis, 74-42, Pick Central took on 29-0 and No. 11 Centerville for the title, a club which took apart St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio), 64-33, in its semifinal contest. The Tigers figured to give Centerville a good game and it led by two points entering the fourth period before Pick Central outscored them 19-14 to secure the D1 state crown with a 55-48 victory. Junior Devin Royal led Pick Central with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists, while senior Josh Harlan added 11 points. Royal (19.6 ppg) was named first team All-Ohio D1 for a team that lost to Newark in its second game and split with Reynoldsburg. It was the first state crown for the Tigers since 2011-12, when the program finished No. 11 in the Midwest Region and also finished with a 26-2 mark.
23. (NR) Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) 29-2
The Quakers put together a terrific season, capturing the District of Columbia Schools Athletic Association (DCSAA) Class AA title with a thrilling 46-45 victory over Wilson (Washington, D.C.). Wilson had the lead with under 10 seconds remaining, but an unforced turnover gave the ball back to Sidwell Friends. The Quakers’ Caleb Williams alertly noticed his teammates last-second 17-foot jumper would be short, so he grabbed it out of the air in front of the basket and banked it home as the buzzer went off to set off a dramatic celebration. The shot gave the Quakers a shot at No. 7 Calvary Christian in the first ever State Champions Invitational, but CCA overwhelmed them 58-37. Williams (12.2 ppg) was Sidwell Friends’ only double digit scorer as his team shot 14-of-53 from the field while CCA shot 55 percent (22-of-40) from the field. Sidwell Friends, which only carried three seniors on its roster, recorded a 49-41 playoff semifinal victory over St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) and also defeated WCAC regular season champ and No. 26 Bishop McNamara (Forrestville, Md.), a team that beat No. 16 Paul VI.
24. (34) Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 26-4
The Crusaders were able to defeat No. 19 Cardinal Hayes 51-40 to win the CHSAA Archdiocesan title, but the Cardinals returned the favor to capture the CHSAA Class AA title with a 79-59 victory. The reasons Hayes finishes five spots ahead of Stepinac is winning the last of four meetings between the programs, the margin of victory in the final game and Stepinac losing one more overall game. Hayes was able to avenge its third loss, while coach Patrick Massaroni’s club fell to Mt. St. Michael’s Academy (a team Hayes easily beat twice) and to Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.), a team that lost to No. 21 Orlando Christian Prep. Johnuel “Boogie” Fland (14.4 ppg) was one of the nations’s best sophomores and also earning all-state laurels for the Crusaders was senior guard Sam Gibbs (12.5 ppg). Although the New York Federation Tournament hasn’t returned and Hayes wasn’t able to represent New York’s Catholic schools in it, Stepinac and the rest of the CHSAA was happy to get a complete season in after COVID-19 basically wiped out the 2020-21 season. Many are grateful Massaroni’s coaching staff and school administration hosted a spring tournament and senior combine to salvage the 2020-21 season.
25. (24) Centerville (Centerville, Ohio) 29-1
The OHSAA D1 Final Four at the University of Dayton Arena saw three No. 1 seeds advance to the semifinals. Centerville took on No. 3 seed St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) and dispatched that club, 64-33, as Gabe Cupps had 15 points, Tom House finished with 13 points and Rich Rolf added 12. Centerville entered the D1 state title game with then No. 43 Pickerington Central riding a 45-game winning streak. With a win the Elks would have finished with a Top 10 final FAB 50 ranking, but it all came crashing down with a 55-48 setback, as Centerville was denied its second consecutive state title. Centerville trialed 42-41 after a jump shot by Cupps, but got no closer in a game played without a shot clock. Although the loss with a gut-wrencher, the Elks played to a level expected of them in the preseason and Cupps (14.2 ppg) was named D1 State Player of the Year. Drexel-bound Rolf (17.4 ppg) and Florida St.-bound House (15.3 ppg) were also first team All-Ohio D1 selections.
26. (NR) Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) 22-6
The Mustangs weren’t on our radar as a team from the WCAC despite ranking three or four from the powerful conference nine out of the last 10 preseason rankings. McNamara didn’t quite close the season as it would have liked, absorbing a three-game losing streak, but that doesn’t diminish what it accomplished during the regular season against some of the finest nightly competition in the country. The Mustangs captured the WCAC regular season title, sweeping St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), defeating Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) and Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), while splitting games with No. 16 Paul VI. Coach Martin Keithline’s club avenged a regular season loss to DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the WCAC playoff semifinals, before falling to Paul VI in the title game on a last second shot. The next two losses (to No. 37 St. Frances Academy and Bishop Walsh of Maryland) came at the Alhambra Tournament where often times the intensity level is not nearly the same as WCAC games. Although mainstays such as senior Favour Aire and junior Jeremiah Quigly led the Mustangs to some big wins, they must remain behind No. 23 Sidwell Friends because of a 52-46 loss.
27. (NR) Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.) 32-0
Public schools enjoyed plenty of success on a national scale in 2021-22 and the Hawks deserve acclaim for their unblemished season. Coach Carlos Poindexter’s club capped its season with a Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6 title courtesy of its 67-47 victory over Battlefield (Haymarket, Va.). Battlefield downed previously unbeaten Patriot (Nokesville, Va.) in its semifinal contest and got off to a good start vs. the Hawks, but a big third quarter (holding Battlefield to 10 points, making three 3-pointers, shooting 6-of-6 from the free throw line) propelled the Hawks to soar down the stretch. Greg Jones, one of the nation’s most underrated juniors, finished with 23 points, while junior David King added 12 points and seven rebounds and D.J. Holloway, another junior, added 11 points. This team is considered one of the VHSL’s best from Northern Virginia in recent memory, but can’t be ranked any higher in the FAB 50 because of its lack of wins outside the region. Jones and King will return next season having earned all-state laurels.
28. (BB) McKinney (McKinney, Texas) 35-6
The Lions and Guyer (Denton, Texas) tied for first in District 5 play, but it was Guyer than won the district championship with a 65-55 victory. McKinney bounced back from that in a big way, making their first Class 6A state championship game appearance, where they fell to No. 1 Duncanville, 69-49. On their way to the title game is where McKinney earned this rankings despite losing to Mansfield Timberview and splitting with Allen during the regular season. McKinney downed then No. 7 Richardson in the regional quarterfinals, 54-52, and then No. 30 Westlake in the state semifinals in double overtime, 68-66. Junior Ja’Kobe Walter averaged 23.3 ppg and 7.6 rpg while Texas-bound Alex Anamekwe provided the memorable post-season heroics. Walter had a shot blocked by Richardson’s Cason Wallace, but he instinctually tapped the ball upward towards his own basket afterwards and Anamekwe saw the flight of the ball, caught it in mid-air and banked it in to score the game-winning points with 1.3 seconds remaining. Against Westlake, Anamekwe came up with the steal and dunk to send his team to the state title game.
29. (19) Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 36-3
It took some digging to figure out what do with No. 28 and the Timberwolves, the latter the two-time UIL Class 5A state champions. McKinney did lose to the Mansfield Timberview club Beaumont United defeated, but McKinney gets huge rankings credit for its Class 6A semifinal win over No. 46 Westlake and for downing Richardson when it was in FAB 50 title contention. Houston-bound Terrance Arceneaux, who nailed both the game-tying and game-winning shot in the 2021 Class 5A title game, came up big again in the state title game for the Timberwolves, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the final two minutes of a 62-57 victory over regionally-ranked Mansfield Timberview. In the state semis, Beaumont United downed another regionally-ranked club, Kimball (Dallas, Texas), 66-64, by closing the game on a 14-4 run over the final three minutes. Arceneaux averaged 15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.2 apg and 2.2 spg, while Wesley Yates III, a strong bodied junior guard, averaged 19.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 2.8 spg.
30. (BB) Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas) 34-4**
While the McKinney-Beaumont United rankings debate was a close call, it was a simpler call to place Beaumont United in front of the UIL Class 4A state champions. Beaumont United down the Kimball club that defeated the Eagles, 81-77. Beaumont United lost to No. 17 North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.), 82-72, while Oak Cliff Faith Family fell to the same club, 79-63. The other two losses for coach Brandon Thomas’ club came against No. 14 Liberty in the semifinals of the Tarkanian Classic (79-62) and in the finals of the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic, in overtime, to No. 15 Bishop Gorman (80-73) in a game it led by as much as 13 points. The Eagles, as expected, steamrolled to the state crown, closing it out with a 76-50 win over Hirschi (Wichita Falls, Texas). Ole Miss-bound point guard T.J. Caldwell and UT-Arlington-bond forward Brandon Walker earned all-state acclaim, while junior forward J.T. Toppin showed flashes of brilliance for a club that defeated teams from seven different states.
31. (NR) Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.) 28-0
The Purple Wave defeated a talented Knoxville Catholic club in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Division II Class AA final, 79-72 to cap an unbeaten season. Florida State-bound Chandler Jackson had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while junior guard Michael Pepper added 20 points while only missing one shot from the field. It was a hotly contested game as only three subs played for both teams, including one that played one minute for Christian Brothers. From a rankings perspective it was a big win for the Purple Wave after Knoxville Catholic knocked off then No. 20 Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.) in the state semifinals, 63-55. Coach William Luckett’s club was No. 48 in the FAB 50 and rose from there as an unbeaten club. Similar to No. 27 Hayfield, it couldn’t crack the Top 25 because of a lack of national foes. Jackson joined fellow seniors Hunter Pratt and Zion Owens on the Division II-AA all-state squad.
32. (9) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 26-5
The Trailblazers finished FAB 50 ranked for the eighth consecutive season, but close out a bit lower than forecasted in the preseason. The big win was a 67-64 victory over eventual Illinois Class 4A champ and No. 13 Glenbard West on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior Dylan Metoyer. Coach Andre Chevalier’s club can’t move any higher because of the nature of its SoCal open championship loss to No. 5 Centennial (83-59). Sierra Canyon was able to put together its best performance of the season by avenging its loss to No. 43 Harvard-Westlake in the CIF Southern Section Open playoffs with a resounding 72-55 victory in the SoCal open semifinals. Led by McDonald’s All-American Amari Bailey (29.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 6.5 apg), the Trailblazers split with No. 16 Paul VI, while both Sierra Canyon and Centennial both fell to No. 1 Duncanville in Texas. Considering the shuffled lineups and players missing time with bothersome injuries, including junior Bronny James, it was another successful season despite the lack of cohesion.
33. (NR) Park Center (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) 32-1
The Pirates wrapped up the Minnesota High School League (MHSL) Class 4A state championship with a 58-53 victory over Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.), which was gunning for its second consecutive state crown. It was the first state crown for Park Center, which beat Wayzata for the second time in 2021-22 behind five 3-pointers and 23 points from senior Cody Pennebaker and three 3-pointers and 13 points from Ayouba Berthe. The only loss for Park Center came against Class 3A Totino-Grace (Fridley, Minn.), which also won its first state crown. Park Center gets the nod as the MHSL’s top ranked team as it actually split games with six-loss Totino-Grace and won the return game, 87-57, after losing the first matchup by three points.
34. (25) Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) 32-7
In the preseason, the Gaels were rated as the team to beat in the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) over St. Frances Academy. SFA took the regular season title by two games over Mt. St. Joseph (12-2 to 10-4), but the Gaels captured the 51st BCL tournament with a 66-56 victory to avenge the two regular season losses and claim their first BCL tourney title since 2016-17. Junior Amani Hansberry had 12 points and 22 rebounds while sophomore Bryson Tucker had 20 second half points (22 overall) to lead the Gaels to their eighth BCL tourney title. Mt. St. Joseph lost to No. 18 Imhotep Charter (82-66) and to No. 16 Paul VI (56-52) and Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md.) by one point in two overtimes at the season ending Alhambra Catholic Tournament, but at the same time receives rankings credit for avenging losses to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Maria Goretti. The win over Mt. Carmel came in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) A Conference title game for veteran coach Pat Clatchey (754-129) who will return his two all-BCL performers plus junior guards Ace Valentine and Austin Abrams in 2022-23.
35. (NR) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 23-4
The Saints’ overall resume is terrific, as they got some help from other teams to rank as the No. 2 PIAA team. Previously unbeaten Quaker Valley (Leetsdale, Pa.) was looking to make FAB 50 noise, but Neumann-Goretti put a muzzle on that with a 93-68 whitewashing in the PIAA Class 4A title game. In Class 6A, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) was also looking to break in, but Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) won the championship game, 78-65. Neumann-Goretti split with Roman Catholic while losing to No. 18 Imhotep Charter (64-58), a club that defeated No. 34 Mt. St. Joseph and No. 37 St. Frances Academy. Sophomore guard Robert Wright III was the team’s top talent (19.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.3 apg) and even though Masud Stewart (11.4 ppg) is a tough graduation loss, the Saints will be preseason FAB 50 ranked with talents such as junior forward Sultan Adewale (11.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and sophomore guard Khaafiq Meyers (9.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.3 apg) returning.
36. (NR) Auburn (Auburn, Wash.) 28-3
The Trojans captured the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Hardwood Classic Class 3A title with a 58-48 win over Rainier Beach (Seattle). In the state semifinals, the Trojans downed Seattle Prep, 45-34, while from a rankings standpoint the big playoff win came in the state quarterfinals. Auburn avenged one of its losses with a 64-60 overtime victory over then No. 24 Garfield (Seattle). Those three wins qualified Auburn for the inaugural State Champions Invitational and another notch in its rankings resume came courtesy of its 58-41 semifinal victory over Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class 7A champ and No. 48 Norcross (Ga.). Auburn assisted on its first 14 field goals and on 20 of its 25 field goals and had three turnovers, while Kaden Hansen netted a team-high 17 points. As impressive as Auburn was in the SCI semis, No. 7 Calvary Christian Academy proved in the title game it was just a much better team. CCA dominated the game from the opening tip, jumping out to leads of 18-4 and 24-5 and never looking back en route to a 71-44 victory at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla. Senior Maleek Arington was a bright spot in the game with 17 points and four steals for a club that must be ranked with a sizable gap between it and No. 23 Sidwell Friends (the club CCA beat in its semifinal contest 58-37). Sidwell Friends had more impressive victories than Auburn during the season and Norcross was missing its best player at the event.
37. (BB) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) 35-7
We forecasted No. 34 Mt. St. Joseph and the team to beat in the preseason, but should have given more credence to the Panthers’ track record even though they lost 2020-21 National Freshman of the Year Derik Queen to transfer. Coach Nick Myles’ program came into the season having won or shared the last four Baltimore Catholic League regular season titles and the Panthers set a record by capturing their fifth consecutive championship while only dropping two league games. SFA split with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and John Carroll and defeated Mt. St. Joseph twice. Mt. St. Joseph won the rubber match in the BCL title game, 66-56. Junior Jahnathan Lamothe led SFA in a losing effort with 18 points, while senior Cortez Johnson added 14 points. The Panthers did well in the Alhambra Catholic Tourney despite not having sophomore guard Daquan Davis available because of injury in the post-season. They defeated No. 26 Bishop McNamara and Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.).
38. (NR) Neenah (Neenah, Wis.) 29-1
The Rockets were able to hold off Brookfield Central, 64-52, to capture the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division I title. Brookfield Central’s Andrew Rohde scored 34 points, but the top seeded Rockets led for over 30 minutes in the title game and took the lead for good with 14:08 remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Brady Corso. Senior forward J.J. Paider was the difference-maker with 14 points and 18 rebounds, Wisconsin-Oshkosh recruit Carter Thomas had 15 points and senior guard Chevalier Emery Jr. netted 19 points and five assists. Neenah lost its third game of the season to Appleton East, 68-64, and were able to avenge it with a 59-55 victory en route to a 27-game winning streak. Neenah captured its fourth WIAA state crown and first since 1977-78. The proud program leads all WIAA schools with 28 state tournament appearances.
39. (NR) Varina (Richmond, Va.) 25-1
Similar to No. 38 Neenah, the Blue Devils were able to defeat the only team they lost to in 2021-22. After defeating Highland Springs 77-54 during the regular season, the Blue Devils lost on the road to the Springers, 68-66, in the final game of the regular season. That result seemed to focus Varina, which went on to dominate the competition in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 4 playoffs, culminating its run with a 61-35 title game victory over Loudoun County (Leesburg, Va.). Coach Kenneth Randolph’s club put fourth an incredible defensive effort in the third quarter after leading at halftime 24-19, holding Loudoun County to seven shot attempts, forcing turnovers galore and outscoring it 19-2. VCU-bound Alphonzo Billups led Varina with 18 points and five rebounds, while VMI recruit Amari Baylor added 10 points and nine rebounds. Varina’s 84-68 semifinal victory over highly-regarded King’s Fork (Suffolk, Va.) also helped the Blue Devils’ rankings cause, as did four-loss Highland Springs winning the VHSL Class 5 state title with a 63-62 victory over Maury (Norfolk, Va.).
40. (NR) George Rogers Clark (Winchester, Ky.) 37-1
There is something so special about the Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) Sweet 16. The only state with a single elimination, winner-take-all format, it’s not easy to come out on top of the 16 regions. The Cardinals, however, were able to gut it out to capture the program’s first state title since 1951. The Cardinals won their final three playoff contests by a total of nine points, including a 43-42 victory over Warren Central (Bowling Green, Ky.) in the final. Warren Central had an opportunity to tie in the final minute, but a missed throw sealed its fate as Cardinals junior Jerone Morton was named Sweet 16 MVP after a 14-point performance. What made George Rodgers Clark’s run special was it led the state in scoring but had to hunker down on defense especially against Warren Central and in its 54-51 double overtime victory over Lincoln County (Stanford, Ky.). GRC is the first Sweet 16 champ to go unbeaten in-state since Scott County went 30-0 (34-2 overall) in 2006-07 when it finished No. 17 in the FAB 50.
41. (NR) Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 27-1
In 2018-19, the Chargers won their third consecutive Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) Class 5A state crown and finished just outside the FAB 50 at No. 9 in the final Southwest Region Top 20. On that team was a ninth-grader a bit apprehensive about entering the championship game. Four years later, that wide-eye freshman was a 5-11 senior point guard and the difference-maker in the state final. Ty Frierson was dynamic throughout the game and relaxed during the fourth quarter when he took over the propel Memorial to a 59-47 victory over Del City (Okla.). He finished with 22 points (including 10 in the fourth quarter), made 4-of-7 3-pointers and finished with four steals. From a rankings perspective, it was a huge result because it avenged Memorial’s only loss during the title game of the Tournament of Champions. For coach Bobby Allison’s program, its now won four state titles in seven seasons (no championships took place in 2019-20) and ten overall.
42. (BB) Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) 26-6
We began the Fightin’ Irish as the final team in our preseason Midwest Region Top 20 and as the No. 3 Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) club. The way it closed out the season, however, it was clear they were the state’s No. 1 team and could play with any team in this range of the FAB 50. In the Class 4A state title game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Chesterton (Ind.) came in unbeaten and No. 18 in the FAB 50. Immediately it was apparent Cathedral was too athletic and big for the Trojans to handle, as Chesterton quickly trialed 10-0 before it could breathe. Cathedral opened up a 22-7 lead after one period and led 36-21 at halftime en route to a 65-31 victory. The victory was the program’s second state crown (1998) and the first in Class 4A. Jaron Tibbs and Jaxon Edwards scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, and Xavier Booker finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for a team that set a state finals record with 14 blocks. Jason Delaney in the first coach in IHSAA history to capture state titles at three different schools (Waldron, Class A, 2004, Tech, Class 4A, 2014) and the dominance of the title game caused Chesterton to drop out of the rankings and the Fightin’ Irish to land at this spot.
43. (BB) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 25-4
From a statewide perspective, the Wolverines performed exactly to the level expected of them, but from a national one this relatively young club exceeded expectations as it rose all the way to No. 19 in the FAB 50. They advanced to the CIF Southern Section open title game for the first time with a huge 63-60 victory over No. 32 Sierra Canyon on the road. Coach Dave Rebibo’s club wished it had closed stronger, as it fell to No. 5 Centennial in the section open title game, 68-48, and saw its season come to an end two games later in a 72-55 loss to Sierra Canyon, but the future is bright. Two-time all-state guard Cam Thrower is a big graduation loss, but all-CIF-SS choice Brady Dunlap, a junior, forward Jacob Huggins, plus gritty and clutch sophomore guard Trent Perry, will be the mainstays in 2022-23. Harvard-Westlake also split with talented Mission League foe Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) a team that will be even better next season when Sierra Canyon also joins the rugged league.
44. (NR) Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 26-3
The Cougars extracted a measure of revenge in capturing the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) Class 4A state title; they also beat a quality team that is always knocking on the FAB 50 door. In fact, when Carmel Christian took on traditional FAB 50 power Greensboro Day, that club sat at No. 38 in the FAB 50. Behind a 25-points performance from senior guard Logan Threatt (11.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg), Carmel Christian jumped into the FAB 50 with a 71-66 victory. Senior forward Cade Tyson (23.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 spg) also was big all season long for coach Byron Dinkins. Carmel Christian defeated teams from four states and only lost in-state to Chambers, with its other two losses coming against Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) and John Marshall (Richmond, Va.). With the win, the program erased some of the pain of last year’s Class 4A state title game loss to Cannon.
45. (NR) Columbus (Miami, Fla.) 29-2
It was a breakthrough season for the Explorers and bigger things could be on the way in the future for this club. Columbus broke into the rankings by capturing the FHSAA Class 7A state crown with a big 45-44 win over Dr. Phillips. That was a team that started out No. 13 in the FAB 50 and beat three FAB 50 ranked clubs, including No. 47 Greensboro Day. Freshman Cayden Boozer (16.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.1 apg) hit the game-winning free throw with five seconds remaining and his brother Cameron (18.0 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.2 bpg), also a freshman, went for 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. One of Columbus’ losses came against a team not eligible for the FAB 50 (Moravian Prep of North Carolina) and this team is a sure bet to be ranked much higher than this spot in the preseason. Cameron is a special talent and has a chance to be a three-time high school All-American.
46. (NR) Westlake (Austin, Texas) 38-2
The Chaparrals lost their second game of the season to San Antonio Clark by two points (55-53), then rattled off 37 consecutive victories before meeting No. 28 McKinney in the UIL Class 6A state semifinals. Westlake, which came into the game ranked No. 30, took a 54-53 lead with 19 seconds left in regulation on a field goal by Donovan Santoro and rebounded a missed with eight seconds remaining. McKinney forced a turnover and an erroneous Westlake player jersey miscue and defensive substitution led to a technical foul and a made free throw that sent the game into overtime. In the second overtime, Chaps killed 90 seconds on the game clock and took a timeout with 11.4 seconds remaining, only to have McKinney’s Alex Anamekwe come up with the steal and dunk to end Westlake’s season with a 68-66 loss. It was a gut-wrenching loss, but doesn’t take away from that fact this proud program had another fantastic season. Grid-Hooper Jaden Greathouse, who earned all-state acclaim for coach Robert Lucero, scored a team-high 19 points but fouled out with just under two minutes left in regulation.
47. (BB) Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 33-4
The Bengals were gunning for their 12th NCISAA when they faced No. 44 Carmel Christian in the Class 4A title game. Greensboro Day battled valiantly, but had trouble slowing down Carmel Christian’s duo of Logan Threatt and Cade Tyson and eventually fell, 71-66, despite 21 points from Charlotte-bound Nik Graves. Greensboro Day lost by two points to Trinity Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) with the other two losses to talented Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), which lost to No. 45 Columbus in its state title game, and to No. 7 Calvary Christian Academy. The Bengals were gunning for their first state title since 2018-19 when they won the final of three consecutive championships under veteran coach Freddie Johnson. The 2017 Ballislife National Coach of the Year enters 2022-23 with a 1,137-310 won-loss mark.
48. (NR) Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 26-7
The Blue Devils are FAB 50 ranked for the first time since the 2017-18, when they finished No. 29 after finishing as Georgia High School (GHSA) Class AAAAAAA runner-up. Coach Jessie McMillian’s club finishes ranked lower this time around, but it actually went all the way, capturing the AAAAAAA title with a 58-45 victory over Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.). In 2018, Norcross was eyeing a GEICO Nationals berth, but this time around as an eligible state champion it was awarded a berth in the inaugural State Champions Invitational. Playing without top player London Johnson (Nike Hoop Summit participant), the Blue Devils fell in the tourney semifinals to No. 36 Auburn, 58-41. The top GHSA teams were not quite as strong compared to recent seasons and we would have gave more considering to inviting NIAA Class 4A champ and No. 14 Liberty. Regardless, Norcross has a memorable playoff run, avenging one of its losses with the state semifinal 75-72 win over Newton (Covington, Ga.) and avenging three previous losses to Berkmar in the final.
49. (NR) Williamston (Williamston, Mich.) 27-0
It was a historic season for the Hornets, which captured their first state title since 1940 with an overtime win over one-loss Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 68-65. Central Catholic entered the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Division 2 title game No. 48 in the FAB 50, but its hopes of a state crown were dashed when the Hornets’ Mason Docks hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime to propel the Lansing area program to an unblemished season in which it won 25 of its 27 games by double-digits. Docks netted a team-high 27 points for the Hornets, who also received 23 points and seven rebounds from all-stater Max Burton. Docks, an all-state guard as a sophomore before spending his junior season in Texas, was named A.P. Division 2 State Player of the Year with averages of 16.2 ppg, 4.8 apg and 3.8 spg.
50. (NR) Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 29-0
It was a dream matchup in the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) Class 5A state title game at The Pit in Albuquerque. Las Cruces came into the contest 30-0 and the Hawks stood at 28-0. In was the first matchup of unbeatens in a Class 5A title game since 1998-99 and the winner was likely to end the season FAB 50 ranked. Volcano Vista led 40-30 after three quarters, but Las Cruces gutted it out to send the game into overtime. It was there where Las Cruces’ turnovers and the fouling out of Isaiah Carr finally caught up with them, as the Hawks recorded a 66-55 victory. These two teams also met in the 2017 title game, with Volcano Vista also coming out on top. Led by Ja’Kwon Hill (18.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg), who had 17 points and seven rebounds in the title game, the Hawks are the first NMAA team to finished FAB 50 ranked since 2002 when Hobbs won the fourth of four consecutive state titles and also finished No. 50.