More state champions are crowned, including No. 2 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), which secured its invite to GEICO Nationals in New York by winning the GHSA Class AAAAAAA title. The GEICO Nationals field has been announced and the event has its best overall field in its 11-year history. There are seven newcomers to this week’s FAB 50 National Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, including four teams that wrapped up state championships last week.
By Ronnie Flores
As the season begins to wind down, more state champions have been crowned across the country and two that won championships last week are not yet done with their season. That’s because both teams have been invited to GIECO High School Nationals, set for April 4-6 at Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) with all seven games nationally televised by ESPN.
FAB 50 No. 2 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) won the GHSA Class AAAAAAA state crown with a 62-54 victory over No. 45 Meadowcreek (Norcross, Ga.) to keep its unbeaten season alive. Mr. Basketball USA candidate Sharife Cooper once again led the way for the Indians, scoring 20 points and dishing out four assists. Also having a big game was Auburn-bound Isaac Okoro, who helped the Indians win their first ever state crown with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists.
McEachern played a murderous schedule, went through unscathed and will go down as one of the best teams in GHSA history. Should it win GEICO Nationals, the Indians will likely rival 1979 Southwest (Macon, Ga.) as the GHSA’s best team ever. Southwest was crowned national champions by Basketball Weekly and the National Sports News Service, which was morphed into the FAB 50 19 years ago.
The other team securing a berth to the end-of-season event was No. 10 University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), which clinched a second consecutive Class 5A state crown on Thursday with a 72-46 victory over Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville, Fla.). The Sharks, which lost to eventual FAB 50 champ Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in last year’s GIECO final, were led by Jace Howard with 17 points, while standout junior Scottie Barnes and Roger McFarlane had 13 points each. Coach Jimmy Carr’s team was able to easily roll to another title despite Duke-bound Vernon Carey Jr. missing the game because of an ankle injury. He expects to play at GEICO Nationals.
Four teams that wrapped up state titles last week move into this week’s FAB 50, including No. 46 Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) which captured the OSSAA Class 6A state crown with a 82-70 win over Putnam City North (Oklahoma City, Okla.). Washington captured its first state crown since 2011 and its state-record 16th overall behind a terrific 42-point performance from junior guard and Tulsa commit Trey Phipps.
GEICO NATIONALS FIELD ANNOUNCED
With McEachern and University School wrapping up their state championships, state champion and No. 11 Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.) and state champion and No. 27 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) were the bubble teams not selected. The field is completed by six independent programs. The top four seeds in the tournament are also the teams that have been the top four in our rankings for the past month: No. 1 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), No. 2 McEachern, No. 3 Montverde Academy, and No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). The No. 5 seed is Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which checks in at No. 18 in the FAB 50. The No. 6 seed is Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah), which is No. 13 in the FAB 50 and owns a win over No. 7 seed Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), which is No. 9 in the FAB 50. The field is rounded out by No. 8 seed University School, which is No. 10 in the FAB 50.
Below is the television schedule for the first round (April 4th, ESPNU):
No. 9 Sunrise Christian Academy (7) vs. No. 2 McEachern (2), 12 pm ET
No. 13 Wasatch Academy (6) vs. No. 3 Montverde Academy (3), 2 pm ET
No. 10 University School (8) vs. No. 1 La Lumiere (1), 4 pm ET
No. 18 Oak Hill Academy (5) vs. No. 4 IMG Academy (4), 6 pm ET
Quick Analysis: This is the event’s strongest field, and if it has its full lineup, McEachern has the best shot of any pubic school to capture the GEICO Nationals title in the event’s history. Usually there is a team selected ranked quite low in the FAB 50 or even unranked, but with Oak Hill Academy coming in the lowest ranked at No. 18 after an up-and-down regular season, it has a chance to make a splash versus No. 4 IMG Academy. The two teams played during the regular season and Oak Hill Academy kept it close despite Mr. Basketball USA candidate Cole Anthony not suiting up. Should be be at 100 percent in New York, Oak Hill has got to like its chances to pull off an upset.
A matchup between Carey and Washington-bound Isaiah Stewart highlight the No. 1 vs No. 8 game. University, similar to Oak Hill Academy, has had an inconsistent regular season, but the Sharks have big game experience and could give the top-rated club all it could handle. Wasatch Academy will have to play a complete game versus Montverde Academy, which closed its season strong and will be confident coming in. A couple of shaky wins and a loss to No. 40 Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) is the reason why Wasatch is currently ranked behind No. 7 seed Sunrise Christian Academy despite owning a regular season win over the Kansas independent school power. Sunrise Christian will attempt to utilize its size against McEachern, which it lost to in overtime during the regular season. Sunrise Christian lost to top-ranked La Lumiere, 65-53, while the Lakers beat Wasatch Academy by a single point. On the other hand, Wasatch Academy was completely blown out by No. 39 Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.).
According to a recent report by USA Today’s Jason Jordan, some of McEachern’s key performers, including Cooper and Okoro, are reportedly skipping the event. Should La Lumiere win three games in New York, it will almost certainly be crowned FAB 50 champions. Should La Lu lose and another team win the event (besides McEachern), its resume will have to be judged against a McEachern team with one loss or an unbeaten one that perhaps decides it will not participate in the event.
Will continue to break down this latest development and the on-court results leading up to the end-of-season event.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com
(Fourteenth poll of 2018-19 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, March 10; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Indicates scrimmages and foundation games not included; ****Indicates season complete)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.)||28-0|
|2||2||McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.)||32-0|
|3||3||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||21-2|
|4||4||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||28-1|
|5||5||Ranney School (Tinton Falls, N.J.)||29-3|
|6||6||Mountain Brook (Mountain Brook, Ala.)||31-3****|
|7||7||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||32-3****|
|8||8||Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)||25-0|
|9||9||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||23-5|
|10||10||University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)||27-4|
|11||11||Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.)||26-3****|
|12||12||Curie (Chicago, Ill.)||33-1|
|13||13||Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)||26-3|
|14||15||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||33-5****|
|15||14||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)||28-4****|
|16||16||South Central (Winterville, N.C.)||29-1|
|17||17||Abington (Abington, Pa.)||28-1|
|18||18||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||32-4|
|19||19||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||32-7****|
|20||27||Carmel (Carmel, Ind.)||24-1|
|21||21||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||27-9****|
|22||22||Nicolet (Glendale, Wis.)||25-1|
|23||23||Guyer (Denton, Texas)||32-5****|
|24||36||Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio)||25-1|
|25||43||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||37-7****|
|26||20||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||28-9****|
|27||24||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)||28-4****|
|28||25||Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.)||25-2****|
|29||26||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||23-2|
|30||30||Federal Way (Federal Way, Wash.)||26-3***|
|31||33||Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.)||34-4****|
|32||34||Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.)||34-5****|
|33||38||Belleville West (Belleville, Ill.)||31-4|
|34||29||Gill St. Bernard's (Gladstone, N.J.)||26-5****|
|35||35||Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.)||25-4|
|36||28||Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)||29-5****|
|37||37||Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)||23-6|
|38||31||Salesian (Richmond, Calif.)||31-1****|
|39||NR||Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.)||25-6****|
|40||39||Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.)||25-5****|
|41||NR||Southwest Guilford (High Point, N.C.)||31-0|
|42||40||Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.)||28-0****|
|43||NR||Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas)||38-2****|
|44||NR||Starkville (Starkville, Miss.)||30-1****|
|45||45||Meadowcreek (Norcross, Ga.)||26-6****|
|46||NR||Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.)||26-2****|
|47||49||Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.)||28-3****|
|48||NR||Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.)||35-2****|
|49||32||Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.)||27-2****|
|50||NR||South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.)||26-4|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 41 John Hardin (Elizabethtown, Ky.), No. 42 Olive Branch (Olive Branch, Miss.), No. 44 Bartlett (Bartlett, Tenn.), No. 46 Benton Harbor (Benton Harbor, Mich.), No. 47 Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.), No. 48 Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.), No. 50 Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.).
Bubble Teams: American Fork (American Fork, Utah) 24-3****; Beecher (Flint, Mich.) 23-2; Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 19-7; Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 26-3; Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 24-7****; Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) 23-2****; Bogan (Chicago, Ill.) 28-3; Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.) 28-2****; Buford (Buford, Ga.) 29-2****; Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 31-3****; Cedar Falls (Cedar Falls, Iowa) 21-3****; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 27-6****; Center Hill (Olive Branch, Miss.) 31-3****; Central Plains (Claflin, Kan.) 28-0****; Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 19-10; Clark (Las Vegas, Nev.) 25-6****; Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) 28-3****; East St. Louis (East St. Louis, Ill.) 27-6; Evanston (Evanston, Ill.) 30-4; Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) 27-2****; Gilbert (Gilbert, Ariz.) 29-1****; Grandview (Grandview, Mo.) 26-2; Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 30-5****; Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 25-4; Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 23-7; Keenan (Columbia, S.C.) 30-1****; Kennedy Catholic (Hermitage, Pa.) 22-3; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 28-1****; Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) 22-4****; Lewis-Palmer (Monument, Col.) 28-0****; Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 25-3****; Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.) 23-8; Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Ky.) 23-2; Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 29-5****; New Haven (New Haven, Mich.) 24-1; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 22-9****; North Scott (Eldridge, Iowa) 23-2****; Olive Branch (Olive Branch, Miss.) 26-8****; Omaha South (Omaha, Neb.) 21-6****; Park Center (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) 26-1; Patterson (Baltimore, Md.) 23-3; Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) 28-3****; Pleasant Grove (Pleasant Grove, Utah) 24-3****; Poly (Baltimore, Md.) 20-4; Rangeview (Aurora, Col.) 26-2****; River Rouge (River Rouge, Mich.) 21-2; Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) 35-4****; Sheldon (Sacramento, Calif.) 28-7****; Springfield Southeast (Springfield, Ill.) 30-2; Teays Valley Christian Prep (Scott Depot, W. Va.) 24-5****; Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) 30-8****; Trinity Catholic (St. Louis, Mo.) 25-4****; Unity Christian (Hudsonville, Mich.) 23-2; University of Detroit Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.) 23-2; Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 22-4; Wagner (San Antonio, Texas) 33-6****; Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) 23-3****; Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) 24-5****.
Note: The FAB 50 powered by Ballislife.com is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled them. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 19 years ago.