Eight new teams crack the latest FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com as state playoffs wind down across the country with the pressure to win a championship tighter than a vise grip. Top-ranked Montverde Academy wins the inaugural NIBC title as GIECO Nationals field comes into focus.
By Ronnie Flores
For the first time in many weeks, no team fell out of the latest FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com as a result of off-court COVID-19 fallout. The majority of states conducting playoffs are now in the deep rounds or wrapped up this past weekend. As a result, many ranked teams ran into tough opposition and eight teams not only took a loss, but also saw their respective 2020-21 season come to an end.
For the second consecutive week, the No. 15 team in the rankings dropped out, as Homestead (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) fell to new No. 34 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) in an Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A regional semifinal contest, 60-49. While it may seem like a steep drop, Homestead could still bounce back and end up in the final FAB 50.
The reason Homestead’s rankings fate ain’t done yet is that regional semifinal contest had a state final feel to it, as the teams were No. 1 and No. 2 in the state’s Class 4A poll. It would obviously bode well for tough-luck Homestead if Carmel were to go on to win the IHSAA Class 4A state crown. Carmel defeated Lafayette Jefferson (Lafayette, Ind.) in the regional finals, 50-49, and take on West Side (Gary, Ind.) in the state semifinals on March 20. In the opposite semifinal, No. 36 Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) grapples with Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.). Carmel has now done enough to be ranked ahead of Lawrence North, whose two losses are to the Greyhounds and Homestead.
Unfortunately not every team that lost last week will have a chance to return to the FAB 50 for two main reasons. Either they didn’t get enough quality wins under their belt or the team they lose to wasn’t ranked high enough. For some teams, a loss dropped them but didn’t send them spiraling out of the rankings. Such was the case for previous No. 17 Westlake (Austin, Texas), previous No. 22 Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) and previous No. 37 Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.).
Westlake fell in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 6A state title game to No. 12 Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas), 66-53. Westlake’s only two losses of the season came against the Panthers, who now have been Texas’ top-ranked team three consecutive seasons running and captured an on-court Class 6A state crown twice in three years. Because of Duncanville’s success, Westlake is able to stay ranked ahead of new Class 5A state champ Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas), which capped an unbeaten season with a 71-70 overtime win over Kimball (Dallas) behind the heroics of junior forward Terrance Arceneaux, who hit a buzzer-beating jumpshot in the extra period and finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Bellevue West’s regular season victory over eventual Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A champ Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa) was a big factor in its ranking drop this week after the Thunderbirds fell in the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) Class A state title game to highly-regarded Millard North (Omaha, Neb.), 84-78, in overtime. More than one local reporter called it the best game they ever witnessed, as McDonald’s all-American Hunter Sallis (who still hasn’t announced his college decision) netted 25 points in a game fans waited hours in the rain outside Pinnacle Bank Arena to get in to.
If that was one of the best games in Nebraska schoolboy history, we could only imagine what Bellevue West’s state semifinal contest was like. In that one, Bellevue West outlasted previous No. 27 Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.) to win 95-94, in a three-overtime contest. Frankie Fidler (32 points) and Wisconsin-bound Chucky Hepburn (23 points) led the way for Bellevue West, which is ranked one spot above Waukee Senior at No. 31 because of the 74-60 head-to-head victory. Millard North, which won its first state crown, is this week’s highest-ranked newcomer at No. 24, as they defeated Bellevue West two of three times this season and also defeated national power and No. 25 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
For Berkmar, the pressure of holding off No. 10 Milton (Milton, Ga.) in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAAAA title game proved to be too much, as the Patriots missed some crucial free throws down the stretch. That allowed Milton to escape with a 52-47 victory. For the Eagles it was their third state title and first since 2012 when it finished No. 7 in the FAB 50. Sophomore Kanaan Carlyle had 15 points and five rebounds while junior Bruce Thornton added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Berkmar doesn’t fall out of the FAB 50 because it recorded a regular season win over Class AAAAAA champ Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.).
GEICO Nationals In Focus
With its GHSA Class AAAAAAA title in tow, Milton has a chance to be selected for GEICO Nationals, which will announce its 10-team field on March 16. GHSA AA champ and No. 27 Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.) may also be considered. The 2021 edition of GEICO Nationals takes place March 31-April 3 at Suncoast Union Arena on Florida SouthWestern’s campus in Ft. Myers, Fla.
By winning the inaugural National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) title, FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) will be the top seed at GEICO Nationals. The Eagles won the NIBC crown on March 12 by virtue of its 61-57 victory over No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.). The game was played at Arlington (Memphis, Tenn.) and had a pro-Sunrise crowd, but Montverde Academy used a big third quarter scoring advantage (22-15) and increased defensive intensity in the second half to propel its victory. Montverde Academy trailed 28-27 at halftime, but held a 49-43 advantage entering the fourth period. MVA’s offensive rebounding also hurt Sunrise Christian, which trialed by nine points with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
Baylor-bound Langston Love had 15 points and five rebounds for MVA, while junior wing Dariq Whitehead had a big outing with 18 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Junior forward Gradey Dick, who recently committed to Kansas, led Sunrise Christian with 18 points. The Buffaloes McDonald’s All-American duo of Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee) and Kendall Brown (Baylor) combined for 19 points, as Brown (six points) was saddled with foul trouble.
It was Montverde Academy’s second win over Sunrise in three regular season games. And there is a possibility they could meet a fourth time at GEICO Nationals in the title game, as the two powerhouses are assuredly to sit on opposite sides of the 10-team bracket. Not only did the win give MVA the first NIBC crown, it likely means the Eagles won’t have AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) on its side of the bracket. That team defeated Sunrise Christian earlier in the season and took MVA to overtime before losing.
Also expect No. 3 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), No. 5 Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah), and No. 25 Oak Hill Academy to be part of the 10-team field.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
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(13th poll of 2020-21 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, March 14; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Does not include results vs. out-of-season opponents; ****Season complete.)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||21-1|
|2||2||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||18-3|
|3||3||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||21-2|
|4||4||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||9-0***|
|5||5||Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)||18-6***|
|6||6||Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)||15-0|
|7||7||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||1-0|
|8||8||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||13-0****|
|9||9||Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.)||14-1|
|10||10||Milton (Milton, Ga.)||28-2|
|11||11||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||0-0|
|12||14||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||29-1****|
|13||13||Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)||28-0|
|14||12||O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.)||0-0|
|15||16||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||11-0***|
|16||23||Houston (Germantown, Tenn.)||18-3**|
|17||21||St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)||10-0|
|18||26||Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)||26-3****|
|19||17||Westlake (Austin, Texas)||30-2****|
|20||20||St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.)||0-0|
|21||19||Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.)||2-0****|
|22||23||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||9-1|
|23||30||Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)||14-1****|
|24||NR||Millard North (Omaha, Neb.)||27-2****|
|25||25||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||20-8|
|26||28||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||7-4****|
|27||33||Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.)||28-1|
|28||35||St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio)||25-2|
|29||36||Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.)||19-0****|
|30||31||Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)||4-0|
|31||22||Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.)||24-3****|
|32||39||Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa)||16-2****|
|33||NR||Mentor (Mentor, Ohio)||25-0|
|34||NR||Carmel (Carmel, Ind.)||24-2|
|35||38||Victory Rock Prep (Bradenton, Fla.)||27-6****|
|36||42||Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.)||27-2|
|37||40||Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.)||31-7****|
|38||NR||Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)||31-0****|
|39||43||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||0-2***|
|40||37||Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.)||26-6****|
|41||48||Clinton (Clinton, Miss.)||21-1****|
|42||44||Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)||0-0|
|43||47||Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Col.)||16-0|
|44||46||Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)||0-0|
|45||NR||Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.)||22-1****|
|46||NR||Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Ky.)||19-1|
|47||49||Ribet Academy (Los Angeles, Calif.)||0-0|
|48||NR||Kingfisher (Kingfisher, Okla.)||25-1****|
|49||50||Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.)||21-1|
|50||NR||Central (Little Rock, Ark.)||23-4|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 15 Homestead (Ft. Wayne, Ind.), No. 18 Simeon (Chicago), No. 27 Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.), No. 29 Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.), No. 32 St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio), No. 34 Richardson (Richardson, Texas), No. 41 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.), No. 45 Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.).
Bubble Teams: Adams (South Bend, Ind.) 23-2****; Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, N.C.) 10-1****; Atascocita (Humble, Texas) 24-3****; Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 7-2****; Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) 15-0****; Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 17-7****; Cannon School (Concord, N.C.) 27-5****; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 0-0; Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) 17-1; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 0-0; Covington Catholic (Park Hills, Ky.) 22-3; Creighton Prep (Omaha, Neb.) 23-3****; Davis (Kaysville, Utah) 22-4****; Del City (Del City, Okla.) 22-4****; DePaul College Prep (Chicago, Ill.) 14-2****; Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) 24-3****; Eagle’s Landing (McDonough, Ga.) 29-1****; Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 0-0; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 17-2****; Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio) 20-4****; Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) 22-4****; Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) 9-1****; Homestead (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) 26-1****; Huron (Ann Arbor, Mich.) 13-0; Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 11-0; Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 0-0; Kell (Marietta, Ga.) 21-7****; La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 10-9; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 0-0; Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.) 14-7****; Manasquan (Manasquan, N.J.) 12-0****; McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 24-5****; Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 17-5**; North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 20-2; Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) 22-3****; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 25-4****; Rangeview (Aurora, Col.) 15-0; Richardson (Richardson, Texas) 25-2****; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 12-3****: Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; Shawnee (Lima, Ohio) 26-1; South Central (Winterville, N.C.) 13-0**; South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas) 21-1****; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 21-3****; Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) 16-1****; St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 0-0; St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) 19-3****; St. Mark’s (Dallas, Texas) 7-1****; St. Mary’s (Pheonix, Ariz.) 18-1; Sunnyslope (Phoenix, Ariz.) 19-1; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 13-1**; Waxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas) 20-3****; Westlake (Saratoga Springs, Utah) 21-4****; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 27-5****; Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 13-1; Windward (Los Angeles, Calif.) 0-0.
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 21 years ago.