The 2021 GEICO Nationals champion has been crowned and the top of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com pecking order has been cemented, but there is still more basketball to be played. The states who moved their season to the spring are still playing, so there will be more movement and teams moving in and out of the rankings in the coming weeks.
By Ronnie Flores
It was fitting that GEICO Nationals concluded with the top two teams in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com: No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) and No. 2 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.). The two most talented teams in the country split regular season games, Montverde retained its No. 1 ranking by beating the Buffaloes in the inaugural National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) title game, and clinched its fifth GEICO Nationals crown by defeating Sunrise Christian for the third time this season, 62-52, this past Saturday in Ft. Myers, Fla.
The difference in Saturday’s game was the third period, as Montverde outscored Sunrise, 28-17, in those crucial eight minutes after holding a 23-21 halftime lead. The key stat of the entire game and the season series between the two clubs was this: the Eagles did not miss a field goal attempt in that eight-minute time frame, going 12-for-12.
Sunrise Christian’s Kennedy Chandler, a Tennessee-bound point guard, had a knack all season long for tremendous game-ending heroics, including a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime in Montverde Academy’s only loss of the season, but there was to be no heroics in this game. Sunrise Christian did have a mini 9-2 surge in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles were in countrol down the stretch.
“What a great accomplishment for our players to win the National Championship,” Montverde Academy head coach Kevin Boyle said. “They played seven games versus teams that reached No. 2 (in the polls) and 13 games versus teams that appeared in the top five. Perhaps the hardest schedule any team has ever faced.”
Montverde Academy was led by Michigan-bound Caleb Houstan with 16 points. He converted 4-of-9 3-point shots while Baylor-bound Langston Love added 13 points while converting 3-of-6 3-point shots. Creighton-bound Ryan Nembhard added 12 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts.
Jaden Akins led Sunrise Christian with 14 points, while Chander finished with nine points, while making 1-of-6 3-pointers and 4-of-12 shots from the field.
Houstan’s tip-in on Montverde’s last possession with the difference in a hard-fought 51-49 semifinal victory over AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.), which had a chance to tie or win the game on its last possession but saw a 3-pointer from TyTy Washington sail just long. Montverde Academy easily dispatched No. 23 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the quarterfinals, 85-64.
Sunrise Christian defeated No. 3 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) in its semifinal contest, 70-63, after trailing by eight points with just under six minutes remaining in the contest. Chandler closed strong and finished with a game-high 25 points and five assists. The Buffaloes also beat a tall and talented Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.) team in the quarterfinals in come-from-behind fashion, 56-55, picking up its defense after trailing by seven points with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
Montverde Academy Is No. 1 For 2020-21
If Sunrise Christian had won GEICO Nationals, it would have moved up to No. 1 this week. It wasn’t the same situation when the Buffaloes snapped Montverde Academy’s 44-game winning streak in February and didn’t move up to No. 1. We knew then the two teams would play once more, and perhaps, twice, and that eventually happened.
This final MVA-Sunrise meeting was more like a high school national championship game or state championship final for teams that compete for state crowns where both foes know it’s the final game of their respective season. One of our main rankings criteria is the No. 1 team in the FAB 50 cannot lose its last game and another is all the rankings positions are not final until every team has played its final sanctioned game.
We always put the credibility of our rankings (the industry’s longest-running) first and foremost, but because of the circumstances created by the country’s response to COVID-19, GEICO Nationals games are not the final high school games of the season. Sometimes it’s about when you lose or win, not a matter of how, but for this season COVID-19 has forced us to alter one of our editorial policies. The mythical national champion will be announced before every team from around the country has played its final game.
With its quality of wins, strength of schedule and track record, we have determined no team with games remaining can possibly knock the Eagles from their No. 1 ranking position. We also had to take into consideration the work we need to do for our end-of-season honors and our responsibilities heading into the summer travel ball season to come to this decision. We simply cannot wait for the last sanctioned high school games in June to begin this process. COVID-19 has forced us all to adjust and it will force us all to move on from difficult times and this is no different. We must move forward with our content initiatives, even though some states are still playing.
We’ll have more on Montverde Academy’s GEICO Nationals title and what it means later this week.
Not Done Yet
Montverde Academy-Sunrise Christian was not the final high school game of the 2020-21 season and, in fact, it wasn’t the only high school game played last Saturday. There was a terrific state final later that evening, as the UCLA-Gonzaga NCAA semifinal wasn’t the only Saturday night thriller. Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) and Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) squared off for the coveted Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A crown at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The game went as one would expect from the two Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rivals who already played once during the regular season. Similar to the UCLA-Gonzaga game, overtime was needed to decide the contest and in the end it was Carmel that came out victorious, 51-46.
Carmel’s victory was not only the second one over its rival this season, it gave the program two Class 4A state crowns in three seasons and the Greyhounds moved up two spots in the FAB 50 this from week from No. 27 to No. 25. The IHSAA state finals were canceled last season because of the pandemic.
In a nip-and-tuck affair, Carmel’s Brian Waddell, a senior, had 20 points and 10 rebounds while junior Josh Whack came up with 11 crucial points, including 7-of-8 made free throws in the fourth period and overtime. Carmel made 20-of-25 shots from the charity stripe. In stark contrast, Lawrence North converted only 6-of-17.
With two of Lawrence North’s three losses this season coming against Carmel, the Wildcats remain at No. 31 in this week’s FAB 50. Lawrence North was gunning for its first Class 4A state crown under veteran coach Jack Keefer since 2005-06, when the program won the mythical FAB 50 national title with a team led by future NBA players Greg Oden and Mike Conley.
The only newcomer this week is Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) D1 state champ Centerville (Centerville, Ohio), which moved in after previous No. 47 Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) lost in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Sweet 16 semifinals.
Minnesota and Michigan will conclude their state championships this week, California, New Mexico and New York are still playing and Washington and Oregon have yet to begin.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com
(16th poll of 2020-21 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, April 4; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Does not include results vs. out-of-season opponents; ****Indicates season not complete.)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||24-1|
|2||2||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||20-4|
|3||3||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||22-3|
|4||4||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||9-0***|
|5||6||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||13-0|
|6||8||Milton (Milton, Ga.)||28-3|
|7||7||Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.)||20-1****|
|8||5||Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)||18-7|
|9||9||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||3-0|
|10||10||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||0-0|
|11||11||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||29-1|
|12||12||Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)||28-0|
|13||13||O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.)||0-0|
|14||14||Houston (Germantown, Tenn.)||21-3**|
|15||15||Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)||26-3|
|16||16||St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)||15-0****|
|17||17||Westlake (Austin, Texas)||30-2|
|18||18||Millard North (Omaha, Neb.)||27-2|
|19||20||Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.)||19-0|
|20||22||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||7-4|
|21||23||St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio)||25-2|
|22||21||St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.)||0-0|
|23||19||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||21-9|
|24||24||Reading (Reading, Pa.)||26-2|
|25||27||Carmel (Carmel, Ind.)||26-2|
|26||29||Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.)||24-3|
|27||25||Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)||14-1|
|28||28||Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)||19-1|
|29||30||Waukee Senior (Waukee, Iowa)||16-2|
|30||32||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||9-1|
|31||31||Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.)||28-3|
|32||34||Victory Rock Prep (Bradenton, Fla.)||27-6|
|33||35||Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas)||31-0|
|34||33||Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.)||2-0|
|35||36||Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.)||31-7|
|36||37||Clinton (Clinton, Miss.)||21-1|
|37||39||Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.)||26-6|
|38||38||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||15-1|
|39||40||Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)||2-0|
|40||26||Pace Academy (Atlanta, Ga.)||28-2|
|41||41||Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.)||22-1|
|42||42||Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)||24-3|
|43||43||Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)||0-0|
|44||44||Huron (Ann Arbor, Mich.)||19-0**|
|45||45||Kingfisher (Kingfisher, Okla.)||25-1|
|46||46||Ribet Academy (Los Angeles, Calif.)||0-0|
|47||48||Sunnyslope (Phoenix, Ariz.)||21-1|
|48||49||North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)||21-2|
|49||50||Wauwatosa East (Wausatosa, Wis.)||23-3|
|50||NR||Centerville (Centerville, Ohio)||26-3|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 47 Ballard (Louisville, Ky.).
Bubble Teams: Adams (South Bend, Ind.) 23-2; Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 0-0; Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) 4-2****; Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, N.C.) 10-1; Atascocita (Humble, Texas) 24-3; Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 21-3; Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 7-2; Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.) 15-0; Bowling Green (Bowling Green, Ky.) 24-3; Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 17-7; Cannon School (Concord, N.C.) 27-5; Catalina Foothills (Tuscon, Ariz.) 19-1; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 1-0****; Central (Little Rock, Ark.) 23-5; Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 22-2; Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Col.) 17-1; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 0-0; 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; Eagle’s Landing (McDonough, Ga.) 29-1; Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 0-0; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 17-2; Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio) 20-4; Elizabethtown (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 22-3; Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 0-2***; Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) 22-4; Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) 9-1; Highlands (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) 30-4; Homestead (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) 26-1; Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 14-0; Jefferson (Portland, Ore.) 0-0; John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.) 11-5; Kell (Marietta, Ga.) 21-7; Kickapoo (Springfield, Mo.) 28-2; La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 10-10; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 2-0****; Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.) 14-7; Manasquan (Manasquan, N.J.) 12-0; McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 24-5; Mentor (Mentor, Ohio) 25-1; Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 17-5**; Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) 22-3; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 25-4; Pine Crest (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) 21-1; Richardson (Richardson, Texas) 25-2; Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) 12-3; Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) 0-0; 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. Catherine’s (Racine, Wis.) 28-1; St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 2-0****; St. Mark’s (Dallas, Texas) 7-1; St. Mary’s (Pheonix, Ariz.) 20-1; St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) 19-3; Thunderidge (Highlands Ranch, Col.) 13-2; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 15-1**; Waxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas) 20-3; Westlake (Saratoga Springs, Utah) 21-4; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 27-5; Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 15-1; Wilson (West Lawn, Pa.) 20-2.
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.