There is only one new team in this week’s FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, but there is significant change and a new No. 1 team for the third consecutive update. Sunrise Christian of Kansas takes over the top spot for the first time in program history after knocking off previous No. 1 Montverde Academy of Florida in a key NIBC contest. Last week Montverde took over for Duncanville (Texas) after that team lost its final game of calendar year 2021. This week’s lone newcomer is Westerville South (Westerville, Ohio).
By Ronnie Flores
Last season coach Luke Barnwell of Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) knew he had a team capable of finishing No. 1 in the country. When his club handed 2020-21 preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Fla.) its only loss, however, it did not take over the top spot in the nation’s longest-running weekly rankings.
At that time, the Eagles remained No. 1 the following week because it was their first loss, defeated the Buffaloes earlier in the 2020-21 season and had the common opponent factor in their favor. Barnwell’s club had a loss to the AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) club that Montverde Academy had beat. Montverde went on to beat Sunrise Christian two more teams in a wire-to-wire No. 1 finish.
This time around the circumstances are different.
Yes, Sunrise Christian does have a 53-44 loss to Montverde Academy, but unlike last season doesn’t have another loss. Montverde, meanwhile, already lost to Duncanville (Texas) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) earlier in the 2021-22 season. By virtue of handing the Eagles their third loss with an avenging 71-61 victory at the La Porte Invitational in La Porte, Ind., the Buffaloes take over the top spot in the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com for the first time in program history.
Sunrise Christian used a big second quarter to take control of the game, outscoring Montverde Academy, 22-11, to take a 42-28 halftime lead and never looked back. Montverde Academy scored the first bucket of the game, but it was all Buffaloes after that as the Eagles could get no closer than eight points (61-53) down the stretch after trialing by as much as 18 in the fourth quarter.
Kansas-bound Gradey Dick led three Buffaloes’ players in double-digits with 20 points. Talented junior Scotty Middleton had a breakout game off the bench, scoring 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field.
Montverde Academy got a monster game from Texas-bound Dillon Mitchell with 29 points on 13-of-14 shooting, but didn’t fare well offensively as a unit. The Eagles only made 4-of-24 3-pointers and 9-of-25 free throws.
I’m happy with our response to getting our tails kicked earlier in the year at Montverde,” Barnwell said. “We competed hard and we’re confident going into it. I’m proud of our kids this weekend. We really focused in preparation for the week’s games in practice and executed at a high level.”
In its three-game set at the La Porte Invitational, the Buffaloes followed up its avenging victory with a 64-50 win over Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) and a 86-65 win over Legacy Early College (Greenville, S.C.). Duke-bound Mark Mitchell had 21 points and Dick 16 in the victory over Wasatch Academy, while Dick had a big game with 29 points in the triumph over Legacy Early College.
With its three wins, Sunrise Christian takes over the top spot after going into last week at No. 2. Duncanville, which beat Montverde Academy at the buzzer earlier in the season, also moves up a spot to No. 2. IMG Academy’s earlier head-to-head 65-64 win over Montverde Academy now becomes a bigger factor as it moves up a spot to No. 3 ahead of the Eagles. IMG has a loss to Sunrise Christian and a split with No. 11 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
After seven games in National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) play, new FAB 50 No. 1 Sunrise Christian and No. 3 IMG Academy sit atop the conference standings with a 6-1 record. New No. 10 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) and Oak Hill Academy are tied for second place with a 5-2 NIBC mark.
La Lumiere recorded a big 70-56 victory over Oak Hill Academy last weekend to swap places in the FAB 50, but lost its next game to Montverde Academy, 63-55. Its other loss was to No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy, 60-45, on Dec. 11.
“The NIBC games are extremely tough every night so you have to be your best or you will get beat,” Barnwell said. “It really brings out the best in your team and we were ready this week. The challenge will be to stay locked in for the remainder of the conference schedule.”
There are three more NIBC games for each club and there will be a regular season champion crowned. There reportedly will not be a conference tournament or similar event this season.
COVID-19 Still Looms
There was plenty of games postponed or canceled across the country because of COVID-19 protocols. The omicron variant is surging across the country and will affect games this upcoming week as well. Already the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest public school district in the country, has canceled all games for Jan. 10-14.
Only one team dropped out this week and most of the movement outside the top clubs was caused by Kenwood Academy’s (Chicago, Ill.) 73-69 loss to bubble club Christian Brother’s (St. Louis, Mo.) at the Highland Shootout in Highland, Ill. Kenwood, which lost 56-34 to No. 1 Sunrise Christian and 65-59 to No. 9 Richardson (Texas), could only drop five spots. That’s because it owns a 69-64 win over No. 40 Whitney Young (Chicago). The Chicago-area teams ranked below Kenwood all had to move down a bit because of the results at the Highland Shootout, as Glenbrook South (Glenview, Ill.) fell six spots to No. 38.
Coach Mike Irvin’s club at Kenwood will look to bounce back quickly when it takes on one-loss and bubble club Simeon (Chicago) on Jan. 11.
Previous No. 35 Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) was the only club to drop out of the rankings after it fell to new No. 31 Newton (Covington, Ga.), 67-54, in the title game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans, La. Beaumont United squeezed by Lee (Huntsville, Ala.) 48-47 in the quarterfinals and downed Ridge View (Columbia, S.C.) 52-47 in the semis.
Beaumont United earlier loss to unranked Cypress Ranch (Houston) comes into play and it must be below No. 49 Jonesboro (Ark.) in the FAB 50 pecking order. That club owns a win over No. 15 North Little Rock (Ark.), the same team that handed Beaumont United a loss.
Next week’s FAB 50 rankings will be published on Tuesday, Jan. 18, and will include all of the results from MLK Monday.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com
(5th poll of 2021-22 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 9; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||2||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||12-1|
|2||3||Duncanville (Duncanville (Texas)||17-1|
|3||4||IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)||12-2|
|4||1||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||11-3|
|5||5||Camden (Camden, N.J.)||5-0|
|6||6||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||14-1|
|7||7||Centennial (Corona, Calif.)||14-1|
|8||8||Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)||21-0|
|9||9||Richardson (Richardson, Texas)||19-1|
|10||11||La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)||11-2|
|11||10||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||15-7|
|12||12||Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)||8-0|
|13||13||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)||15-0|
|14||14||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)||8-1|
|15||15||North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)||11-3|
|16||16||Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)||16-0|
|17||17||Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)||9-0|
|18||18||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||9-1|
|19||19||Calvary Christian Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)||10-1|
|20||20||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||17-2|
|21||21||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||6-1|
|22||22||Centerville (Centerville, Ohio)||8-0|
|23||23||Reading (Reading, Pa.)||8-1|
|24||40||Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)||11-3|
|25||28||Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)||9-1|
|26||27||Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)||19-2|
|27||25||Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)||8-2|
|28||26||Milton (Milton, Ga.)||9-5|
|29||29||Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)||10-2|
|30||30||Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)||6-1|
|31||46||Newton (Covington, Ga.)||13-1|
|32||36||Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)||11-3|
|33||39||Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)||10-0|
|34||33||Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)||10-4**|
|35||24||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||8-2|
|36||31||Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.)||12-3|
|37||37||Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.)||5-1|
|38||32||Glenbrook South (Glenview, Ill.)||14-1|
|39||44||St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)||6-0|
|40||34||Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.)||8-4**|
|41||38||Gill St. Bernard (Gladstone, N.J.)||3-2|
|42||41||George Rodgers Clark (Winchester, Ky.)||13-1|
|43||42||Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.)||11-1|
|44||42||Ballard (Louisville, Ky.)||10-3**|
|45||45||Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.)||14-3|
|46||50||Weddington (Matthews, N.C.)||14-0|
|47||47||South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.)||10-2|
|48||48||Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.)||5-0|
|49||49||Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.)||10-3|
|50||NR||Westerville South (Westerville, Ohio)||10-0|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 35 Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas).
Bubble Teams: Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.) 7-2; Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 20-3; Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.) 8-3; Bishop McNamara (Forrestville, Md.) 7-0; Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.) 15-0; Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 9-1; Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) 9-3; Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 16-2; Central Pointe Christian (Kissimmee, Fla.) 12-5; Chesterton (Chesterton, Ind.) 11-0; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 7-1; Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.) 18-0; Christian Brother’s (St. Louis, Mo.) 8-4; Crean Lutheran (Irvine, Calif.) 11-1; Curie (Chicago, Ill.) 15-1; Damien (La Verne, Calif.) 17-1; Davis (Kaysville, Utah) 13-0; Del City (Cel City, Okla.) 10-3; De Pere (De Pere, Wis.) 10-0; Fairmont (Kettering, Ohio) 10-1; Gig Harbor (Gig Harbor, Wash.) 10-0; Huntington Prep (Huntington, W. VA.) 6-5; Jenks (Edmond, Okla.) 8-1; Kimball (Kimball, Texas) 11-4; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 14-0; Lawrence Free State (Lawrence, Kan.) 5-0; Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) 9-2; Liberty (Liberty, Mo.) 11-0; Magnolia (Magnolia, Ark.) 11-0; Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas) 20-3; Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 13-1; Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.) 8-1; Mt. Carmel (Chicago, Ill.) 16-0; Mt. Vernon (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) 6-0; New Hanover (Wilmington, N.C.) 9-0; Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas) 20-4; Omaha Westside (Omaha, Neb.) 12-1; Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) 12-2; Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) 14-3; Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) 10-1; Poly (Riverside, Calif.) 17-1; Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) 8-0; Shakopee (Shakopee, Minn.) 7-0; Simeon (Chicago) 11-1; South St. Paul (South St. Paul, Minn.) 11-0; St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 5-5; St. Francis Prep (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) 7-1; St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 5-2; The Burlington School (Burlington, N.C.) 17-3; Thunderidge (Highlands Ranch, Col.) 8-0; Totino-Grace (Fridley, Minn.) 4-2; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 12-1; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 9-7; Westfield (Houston, Texas) 17-1; Westfield (Westfield, Ind.) 9-2; Wisconsin Lutheran (Milwaukke, Wis.) 8-1; Zionsville (Zionsville, Ind.) 9-1.
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 22 years ago.