By capturing three holiday tournaments and beating previous No. 1 Montverde Academy of Florida at the City of Palms Tournament, Chino Hills (Calif.) is the new top-ranked team in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com. The Huskies didn’t just elevate over eight other teams, as a series of results propelled RUN GMZ to the top spot. Read on for this explanation and potential scenarios down the line.
By Ronnie Flores
When 6-foot-6 freshman R.J. Barrett of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) was fouled by Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills (Calif.) in the closing seconds of a quarterfinal game at the City of Palms Tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla., it looked like it would send a frantic game into overtime. The talented freshman ended up missing the final of three tries, as the Huskies held on for a 83-82 victory.
That result propelled coach Steve Baik’s club to victories over FAB 50 ranked High Point Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.), in a 94-82 game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates, and a gut check 66-60 overtime win over Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.) to capture the COP title.
This came on the heels of RUN GMZ winning The Battlezone in Corona, Calif. over previously FAB 50 ranked Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.), 106-86, in the title game. After Christmas, Chino Hills bested the field at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Bubble clubs Jonesboro (Ga.) and Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) actually played and shot the ball well, but were unable to keep pace with a team that has hit the century mark six times so far this season. In all, the preseason Cal-Hi Sports top-ranked team in California has defeated teams from eight states and still have some land mines coming up.
The three tournament titles didn’t automatically jump Chino Hills over eight other elite clubs, as results dictated the Huskies begin the New Year as America’s top-ranked club. The win over Montverde Academy was huge, as it’s hard to envision the Ball brothers and company going to No. 1 without facing that team in the COP. After all, the Eagles are the three-time defending FAB 50 champs and an incredible seven of their 15 wins so far have come against currently FAB 50-ranked clubs, so they check in at No. 2.
The head-to-head criteria is the most important rankings factor in this scenario. In a similar situation in 2013-14 involving a one-loss Montverde Academy team and an unbeaten CIF Southern Section power (in that case Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif.), unfortunately the head-to-head never came into play.
We also seriously considered No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) for the top spot and longtime Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) played heavily into what we ultimately decided to do with the top of this week’s rankings. Oak Hill lost, 70-67, to 22-Foot Academy of South Carolina in its fourth game of the season. Now, we are fully aware that program carries post-graduates and that made the decision tougher. However, we had a chance to evaluate 22-Foot Academy at the Tarkanian Classic and it isn’t a team the current top-ranked team can afford to lose to, as 22-Foot has multiple losses of its resume so far.
Mike Jones’ club at DeMatha defeated No. 9 Garfield (Seattle, Wash.), 74-64, in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational in Portland, Ore. on Dec. 29 and faced Oak Hill Academy the next day. Had the Stags won that game, they would have went into their Jan. 2 game at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W. Va. versus Montverde Academy playing for the No. 1 FAB 50 spot. DeMatha lost to Oak Hill 82-66, and fell to the Eagles three days later, 74-41, after that rankings scenario had already taken care of itself.
We applaud Jones for taking on the schedule his program has and despite the two losses, DeMatha stays put at No. 5 because it would be really difficult for any high school program in the country to beat those two teams in back-to-back games. Not to mention DeMatha has upcoming WCAC games with No. 8 St. John’s (Washington, D.C.), No. 21 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and No. 33 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), the latter one of nine newcomers this week.
As for Chino Hills, the Huskies have rematches with bubble club Foothills Christian and High Point Christian in the next two weeks, not to mention a California No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with No. 15 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) at the James Sampson Fairfax State Preview on Jan. 30.
Of course everyone knows about the Lonzo Ball-LiAngelo Ball-LaMelo Ball trio for the Huskies, but Baik had plenty of complimentary things to say about the contributions of junior Eli Scott and freshman Onyeka Okongwu after the Maxpreps event (see highlights above and below). Scott gives them a dimension of athleticism on the wing the Huskies lacked last season and Okongwu has been a first-rare rim protector against national level competition.
(Full Raw Footage Highlights Of Chino Hill at Maxpreps Holiday Classic)
Also potentially looming in the CIFSS Open Division playoffs is No. 18 and one-loss Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.), which put its season opening loss to Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) behind it by winning the Iolani Prep Classic championship over No. 19 La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) before Christmas. Sierra Canyon had its boat rocked a bit over the last three days, as last year’s National Freshman of the Year, 6-foot-10 Marvin Bagley III, has enrolled at the school.
The eligibility of Bagley, one of the nation’s best players regardless of class, has yet to be determined by the CIF, but he arrival has already created repercussions. Highly-regarded junior forward Ira Lee checked out of the program Monday. A starter and one of the better juniors in California, there is no guarantee Bagley will replace him in the starting lineup pending his eligibility.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com
(Third poll of the 2015-16 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 3; Previous ranking in parentheses; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||9||Chino Hills (Chino Hills, Calif.)||13-0|
|2||1||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||15-1|
|3||3||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||20-1|
|4||4||Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)||14-0|
|5||5||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||10-2|
|6||10||Atascocita (Humble, Texas)||21-0|
|7||14||Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)||6-1|
|8||18||St. John's (Washington, D.C.)||12-1|
|9||6||Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)||8-1|
|10||13||St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)||5-0|
|11||11||Greenforest Christian Academy (Decatur, Ga.)||14-1|
|12||17||Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.)||10-0|
|13||2||Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.)||8-1|
|14||25||St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.)||12-0|
|15||26||Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.)||14-0|
|16||37||Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.)||15-3|
|17||21||Sacred Heart (Waterbury, Conn.)||3-0|
|18||33||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||9-1|
|19||7||La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.)||14-2|
|20||24||Stevens Point (Stevens Point, Wis.)||9-0|
|21||30||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||10-1|
|22||31||University of Detroit Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.)||6-0|
|23||44||High Point Christian (High Point, N.C.)||13-2|
|24||12||Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.)||11-3|
|25||35||Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)||13-0|
|26||NR||Oldsmar Christian (Oldsmar, Fla.)||13-3|
|27||27||Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.)||9-1|
|28||36||Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.)||11-1|
|29||34||Westlake (Atlanta, Ga.)||7-2|
|30||16||Westerville South (Westerville, Ohio)||8-2|
|31||40||Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.)||10-1|
|32||NR||Hammond (Columbia, S.C.)||12-0|
|33||NR||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||9-2|
|34||8||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||7-2|
|35||NR||Overland (Aurora, Col.)||7-0|
|36||46||Starkville (Starkville, Miss.)||14-1|
|37||42||Lima Senior (Lima, Ohio)||4-0|
|38||15||Norland (Miami, Fla.)||12-3|
|39||49||North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.)||9-0|
|40||NR||Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.)||6-1|
|41||46||Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)||17-3|
|42||NR||Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.)||12-2|
|43||NR||Curie (Chicago, Ill.)||11-0*|
|44||50||Father Tolton (Columbia, Mo.)||8-1|
|45||NR||DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas)||21-1|
|46||43||Simeon (Chicago, Ill.)||8-2|
|47||38||West Linn (West Linn, Ore.)||6-3|
|48||NR||West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.)||9-1|
|49||20||Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.)||6-1|
|50||39||Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)||8-5|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 19 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), No. 22 Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.), No. 23 Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.), No. 28 Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Ill.), No. 29 Mustang (Mustang, Okla.), No. 32 Moreau Catholic (Hayward, Calif.) 8-3, No. 41 Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.), No. 47 Lone Peak (Highland, Utah), No. 48 Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.).
Bubble Teams: Advanced Prep International (Dallas, Texas) 15-7; American Fork (American Fork, Utah) 10-1; Beecher (Flint, Mich.) 4-1; Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.) 7-3; Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 9-4; Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 7-2; Brandeis (San Antonio, Texas) 19-0; Brentwood (Brentwood, N.Y.) 5-0; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 10-4; Copper Hills (West Jordan, Utah) 9-0; Crespi (Encino, Calif.) 14-1; De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 9-1; Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.) 7-0; Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio) 9-0; Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) 12-1; Fenwick (Fenwick, Ill.) 11-1; Folsom (Folsom, Calif.) 11-2; Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.) 8-2; Fort Bend Elkins (Missouri City, Texas) 18-1; H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) 15-0; J.O. Johnson (Huntsville, Ala.) 15-3; Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ga.) 10-3; Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas) 16-2; Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 7-2; Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 13-2; Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 10-0; Meridian (Meridian, Miss.) 16-2; Merrillville (Merrillville, Ind.) 10-0; Mesa (Mesa, Ariz.) 10-2; Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) 12-2; Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.) 10-1; Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 9-1; Mustang (Mustang, Okla.) 5-2; National Christian Academy (Ft. Washington, Md.) 10-1; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 12-2; Norman North (Norman, Okla.) 5-2; Omaha South (Omaha, Neb.) 9-0; Park School of Buffalo (Snyder, N.Y.) 7-0; Quality Education Academy (Winston Salem, N.C.) 11-2; Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 11-3; Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Col.) 7-0; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 4-2; Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.) 15-1; Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.) 10-4; Shenendehowa (Clifton Park, N.Y.) 10-0; Steele (Cibolo, Texas) 18-1; Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 8-2; Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 10-6; Victory Rock Prep (Sarasota, Fla.) 12-1; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 12-2; Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio) 9-0; Westfield (Chantilly, Va.) 7-2; Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.) 11-3; Wichita East (Wichita, Kan.), 5-0.
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 16 years ago.