The playoffs are in full affect and results in the CIF Southern Section open playoffs caused some shift and one of its teams dropping out of the new FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com. There are four total newcomers this week, two that were previously ranked plus a St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) club that will look to win its first CIFSS open title on Saturday. There is also a new No. 1 ranked team in the nation, as Paul VI of Virginia goes down on Sunday evening. Can the Panthers climb back up in the rankings? March is going to be exciting!
The NBA All-Star Game was another lackluster affair, but what young players can take from it is that you have to be ready to play and learn how to win under trying circumstances, especially for those teams competing for a spot in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com.
When a team is in the No. 1 spot, as Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) was for the past month and a half, every team is gunning for them and every outing matters. On Sunday evening, Paul VI took on a Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.) club that has been playing much better in recent weeks due to the return of 6-foot-7 junior (2024) wing Caleb Williams. Paul VI came into the game with not alot on the line, in terms of conference standings, and was playing without 6-foot-7 senior (2023) wing Isaiah Abraham.
After one period, Sidwell-Friends led 18-15 and went into halftime trialing the Panthers but two points (32-30). Paul VI was outscored by eight points in the pivotal third period and to make matters worse, standout 2026 guard Jordan Smith broke his wrist. Paul VI just couldn’t get over the hump against a hungry team that match every field goal the Panthers could make, as the Quakers went on to record a 75-68 victory. Six-foot-5 sophomore (2025) Jalen Rougier-Roane led the Quakers with 20 points, fellow 2025 Acaden Lewis, a 6-foot-3 guard, added 17 and Williams finished with 15.
The win catapulted Sidwell-Friends back into the FAB 50 this week at No. 40 after the Quakers got as high as No. 35 earlier in the season. They are in front of another newcomer this week, No. 47 Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.), a team they to lost earlier in the year because the Quakers deserve credit for taking down the nation’s No. 1 team. As for Roman Catholic, which got as high as No. 33 earlier in the season and takes on Archbishop Wood (Philadelphia, Pa) in the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals on Wednesday at The Palestra, it does deserve to be in front of the No. 48 Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.) club it defeated earlier in the season.
As for Paul VI, it drops to No. 7 this week right behind the Columbus (Miami, Fla.) club it lost to in the City of Palms Classic semifinals. It may be a tough break for the Panthers, both literally and figuratively, but it will have plenty of opportunity to stay in contention for the FAB 50 national title. Paul VI, which was led in defeat by 5-foot-10 2024 guard Ben Hammond (18 points) and Maryland-bound forward DeShawn Harris-Smith (16 points), still has the upcoming Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) tournament and a potential trip to GEICO Nationals down the line.
What’s coming down the line influenced the top of this week’s FAB 50, as preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) resumes the top spot after Paul VI’s second loss of the season. The Eagles, which went 11-1 in National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) play, are the likely top seed at GEICO Nationals (March 30-April 1) this year. Link Academy (Branson, Mo.), which finished its regular season with only one loss to Montverde Academy, is up three spots to No. 2. Link Academy will receive a berth to GEICO Nationals after losing to the Eagles in last year’s title game. How would Paul VI fare at the tournament should it receive an invite?
Abrupt Endings For Duncanville & Camden
For two highly-ranked teams with FAB 50 title aspirations, there is an abrupt ending to its season, one expected and one unexpectedly. For Duncanville (Texas), the defending FAB 50 national champion, it knew it would not participate and defend its University Intersholastic League (UIL) Class 6A state title since November, when it opted out of the 2022-23 UIL playoffs. The defending state and national champion Panthers had a terrific season, and their results will affect the final edition of the FAB 50 even if it will be difficult for that club to move up without the luxury of playoffs games against the likes of UIL Class 6A front-runners No. 9 Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas) and No. 16 Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas).
For No. 10 Camden (N.J.), the abrupt ending was unexpected to say the least.
In the first-ever Camden County Tournament final between the Panthers (folks, school nicknames are not that original or unique around the country) and Eastside (Camden, N.J.), an on-court melee broke out with four minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter when Camden’s Cornelius Robinson, a Bryant recruit, hit Eastside’s Titus Bacon as he was trying to set a screen near the right elbow. Bacon then retaliated, which led multiple Panther players, including Mr. Basketball USA candidate D.J. Wagner, to chase after Bacon and Tigers’ players. Almost immediately, the melee brought players from the benches, coaches and fans onto the court.
At that point with Camden leading the Tigers, 30-17, game officials canceled the remainder of the game. Per NJSIAA bylaws, any varsity team accumulating three or more player or coach disqualifications prior to the start of the NJSIAA state tournament will not be permitted to participate in it. Before the NJSIAA could rule on the incident, the Camden City School District decided to pulled both clubs from the state tournament. Both clubs were defending state champions in their respective division and both seasons are now over. Camden was the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group 2 and was the favorite to win a section and state title.
Similar to Duncanville, Camden is now listed with an asterisk (***) next to its won-loss record to indicate its 2022-23 season is complete. The Panthers’ record does not include the contest with Eastside, as that game is reflected as a default, nor is the forfeit loss to Lindenwold in the opening round of the state tournament. It’s an unfortunate incident, and Camden will be judged by its on-court record as will the FAB 50 ranked teams it beat and lost to (No. 6 Columbus of Florida and No. 8 Centennial of California)
Another newcomer is No. 45 Richmond Heights (Ohio), which knocked off previous No. 40 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), 83-80, to cap off an unbeaten regular season. Richmond Heights takes over as Ohio’s top ranked team overall despite its Division IV status in the OHSAA.
While Sidwell-Friends and Roman Catholic return to the nation’s longest-running weekly national rankings, the highest rated newcomer is No. 25 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.). The Braves advanced to Saturday’s CIF Southern Section open division championship game versus No. 8 Centennial (the team that handed Camden one of its two losses).
While Centennial, the two-time defending CIFSS open champs, advanced to the title game at the Honda Center by going 3-0 in its pool, St. John Bosco needed some help to crack the FAB 50 after losing its opening pool play game to No. 35 West Ranch (Valencia, Calif.). St. John Bosco defeated No. 32 Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) in its second pool game, so West Ranch controlled its own destiny since it also won its second pool play game over St. Bernard (Playa del Rey, Calif.). Harvard-Westlake defeated West Ranch in its final pool play game and needed St. Bernard to defeat St. John Bosco in the third and final pool play game. Had that happened, it would have been Harvard-Westlake advancing to play Centennial because of the head-to-head over the Wildcats, the team Bosco lost to. Since St. John Bosco and Harvard-Westlake both ended up winning its third game, Bosco was the team to advance with a 2-1 mark.
Bosco’s ranking is reflected in its opportunity to beat Centennial in its first trip to the CIFSS open final, but it must remain behind No. 20 West Linn (West Linn, Ore.), a team the Braves lost to during a December tournament in Oregon. Should Bosco pull off the minor upset on Saturday, it will be ranked accordingly. Should it lose, however, there is no guarantee it will be ranked higher than No. 35 West Ranch in next week’s FAB 50 and when the CIF open regional tournament begins on March 1 regardless of its seeding.
All teams will be judged by their results, even Duncanville and Camden. St. John Bosco has a big opportunity this week, while Paul VI hopes its opportunity comes down the line to move back up in the FAB 50.
RELATED: Preseason 2022-23 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker | “In The Paint” Podcast (Spotify) | “In The Paint” Podcast (YouTube)
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com
(10th poll of 2022-23 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, Feb. 19; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Indicates season complete)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||2||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||23-2|
|2||5||Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)||24-1|
|3||3||John Marshall (Richmond, Va.)||22-0|
|4||4||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||28-1***|
|5||7||Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)||24-0|
|6||9||Columbus (Miami, Fla.)||22-4|
|7||1||Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)||26-2|
|8||6||Centennial (Corona, Calif.)||28-3|
|9||8||Lake Highlands (Dallas, Texas)||27-3|
|10||10||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||23-2***|
|11||12||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||16-2|
|12||13||Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)||22-3|
|13||14||St. John’s (Washington, D.C.)||26-2|
|14||15||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||18-6|
|15||16||Central Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)||26-0|
|16||17||Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)||30-1|
|17||18||Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.)||28-1|
|18||20||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||16-7|
|19||21||AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.)||19-5|
|20||22||West Linn (West Linn, Ore.)||23-1|
|21||23||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||20-2|
|22||24||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)||17-5|
|23||25||Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)||25-2|
|24||26||Park Center (Brooklyn Park, Minn.)||21-0|
|25||NR||St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)||26-5|
|26||27||Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)||33-3|
|27||28||Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)||20-0|
|28||33||Penn (Wishawaka, Ind.)||21-1|
|29||32||Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)||18-1|
|30||30||Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.)||24-0|
|31||31||Pinson Valley (Pinson, Ala.)||29-0|
|32||11||Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)||30-2|
|33||29||DME Academy (Daytona Beach, Fla.)||25-6|
|34||38||De Pere (De Pere, Wis.)||23-0|
|35||19||West Ranch (Valencia, Calif.)||29-2|
|36||37||Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.)||21-6|
|37||35||Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.)||27-3|
|38||36||Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas)||24-3**|
|39||39||Carter (Dallas, Texas)||27-3|
|40||NR||Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.)||22-4|
|41||41||Simeon (Chicago, Ill.)||26-3|
|42||46||Broken Arrow (Broken Arrow, Okla.)||22-0|
|43||42||Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)||20-4|
|44||43||Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.)||29-1|
|45||NR||Richmond Heights (Richmond Heights, Ohio)||22-0|
|46||45||Lake City (Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho)||22-0|
|47||NR||Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.)||20-3|
|48||48||Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.)||26-2|
|49||49||Warren Central (Bowling Green, Ky.)||27-1|
|50||50||Radnor (Radnor, Pa.)||23-0|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 34 Garfield (Seattle, Wash.), No. 40 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), No. 44 Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), No. 47 Bentonville West (Centerton, Ark.).
Bubble Teams: Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 17-8; Bentonville West (Centerton, Ark.) 24-3; Briarcrest Christian (Eads, Tenn.) 30-2**; Bullis (Potomac, Md.) 25-2; Centerville (Centerville, Ohio) 20-3; Chambers (Charlotte, N.C.) 20-6; Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah) 21-2; Curtis (University Place, Wash.) 24-3; Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.) 19-6; Eagle’s Landing (McDonough, Ga.) 25-1; East Nashville (Nashville, Tenn.) 24-0; Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 18-8; Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.) 20-2; Ellison (Killeen, Texas) 32-3; Farmville Central (Farmville, N.C.) 24-1; Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 21-2; Grand Blanc (Grand Blanc, Mich.) 17-2; Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) 21-5; Hammond Central (Hammond, Ind.) 20-1; Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.) 24-1; Heights (Wichita, Kan.) 17-1; Highland Park (Topeka Kan.) 16-0**; Horn Lake (Horn Lake, Miss.) 29-1; Jackson-Reed (Washington, D.C.) 24-6**; Joliet West (Joliet, Ill.) 25-5; Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 25-3; Kell (Marietta, Ga.) 23-2; Kennedy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) 20-0; Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.) 24-6; Kimball (Kimball, Texas) 26-2; Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 20-9; McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 21-6; Metamora (Metamora, Ill.) 27-2; Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.) 24-6; Muskegon (Muskegon, Mich.) 17-2; Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) 22-4; Newton (Covington, Ga.) 17-10; Nixa (Nixa, Mo.) 24-0; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 23-4; North Farmington (Farmington Hills, Mich.) 17-1; North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.) 25-2; Northern Nash (Rocky Mount, N.C.) 25-2; Northside (Roanoke, Va.) 24-0; Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) 22-10; Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 20-13; Oak Park (Kansas City, Mo.) 23-1; Putnam City North (Oklahoma City, Okla.) 22-1; Reading (Reading, Pa.) 24-1; Sacred Heart Griffin (Springfield, Ill.) 27-3; Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.) 30-3; Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas) 31-4; Staley (Kansas City, Mo.) 23-2; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 24-4; St. Augustine (San Diego, Calif.) 25-4; St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 18-2; UOD Jesuit (Detroit, Mich.) 16-3; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 17-7; Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 24-1; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 13-10.
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 23 years ago.
Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at [email protected]. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores