UPDATED FAB 50: Teams Eye The Prize!

There are only two new teams able to crack the latest edition of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com, but there is movement as teams look to avoid being upset right before the competition heats up in the playoffs. It looks like No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) will be the top seed at GEICO Nationals, whose field will be announced on March 12.

By Ronnie Flores

RELATED:   “In The Paint” Podcast  | Ballislife Podcast Network | How To Create A High School March Madness |  The Future of Big-Time High School Basketball | State Champions Invitational Announced   | History of High School Team RankingsAll-Time No. 1’s

Only two teams have a strong enough resume to crack the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com this week, as a vast majority of the nation’s elite teams won games last week. The playoffs have started in some selected states, will begin this week in others, while some look to avoid a late-season upset that would cause unfavorable seeding or playoff positioning.

The two new ranked teams this week are No. 44 North Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and No. 50 Catholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.). North Hills is rewarded as an unbeaten club and as the Keystone State’s top-rated team in Class 6A. The Cougars were previously ranked and have done enough to warrant a return in the nation’s longest-running weekly poll in front of King (Detroit, Mich.) as Michigan’s top-rated team by the Detroit Free Press.

Previous No. 37 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) had to drop out after losing 57-56 to unranked St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) play. It was Gonzaga’s second close loss to the Cadets, as coach Steve Turner’s club now has to be behind bubble club DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the WCAC pecking order. FAB 50 No. 29 Bishop McNamara (Forrestville, Md.) sits at 11-1 in WCAC play, while No. 21 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) is 10-2, one game ahead in the loss column of DeMatha Catholic (10-3) and two games ahead of Gonzaga (9-4). Bishop McNamara’s only conference loss is to DeMatha, who will host Gonzaga on senior night this Friday in a key game.

St. Francis Prep (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) lost in first game in New York Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) play to unranked Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 59-56. The Terriers ran into a CTK club that struggled with injuries early in the season, but is now rounding into form and is a formidable foe. St. Francis Prep drops five spots this week to No. 34 and its loss last week means a hit for other New York club. The Terriers have done enough to remain in front of Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) because of the head-to-head result and Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.), which has a split with Cardinal Hayes.

Another club that joins Cardinal Hayes and Archbishop Stepinac in dropping four spots this week is No. 22 Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), which fell to Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), 69-65, in its district championship game. E.J. “Jizzle” James, a 6-foot-1 2023 guard and the son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James, had 31 points.

Coach Ben Witherspoon’s club can’t fall any further in the FAB 50 because of its overall resume and because it played the district title game without McDonald’s All-American center Ernest Udeh Jr., but the result does affect what could happen down the road. Although Dr. Phillips remains the top ranked team in the FHSAA power rankings system, it drops to No. 5 in its region behind four district champions and will have to travel to play any district champion it meets in regional play. According to Witherspoon, Udeh will be ready to play on Thursday and in a likely contest at home next Tuesday against No. 6 ranked region team Windemere Prep (Windermere, Fla.) and Duke commit Sean Stewart.

Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) solidified its status as the No. 1 team in the country with a 74-65 victory over No. 4 Link Academy (Branson, Mo.) last Friday evening in a showcase game at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Neb. With the victory, the Buffaloes, this season’s National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) champion, all but secured the top seed at GEICO Nationals, which will take place in Ft. Myers, Fla., March 31-April 2. The entire eight-team field will be announced on March 12. Despite the loss, Link Academy did not drop in the FAB 50 this week and should be one of the teams invited for the end-of-season tournament for independent clubs.

Sunrise Christian got out to a fast start and led 21-13 after one period of play. The Buffaloes extended their lead to 12 in the second period, but when the game got sloppy in the third period, Link Academy capitalized. The first-year program closed its deficit to 48-44 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

That’s when Sunrise Christian’s experience in big showcase games versus other highly-ranked foes made a difference, as the Buffaloes converted some clutch shots and limited the amount of mistakes down the stretch. Layden Blocker, a 2023 point guard who finished with 11 points, made critical plays for the victors, while a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining by Kansas-bound Gradey Dick (16 points) gave the Buffaloes some breathing room. Sunrise Christian also hit its late free throws to seal the victory.

Duke-bound Mark Mitchell netted a game-high 23 points, while 2023 wing Scotty Middleton (13 points) also came up big. Tarris Reed Jr., bound for Michigan, led Link Academy with 22 points, while Arkansas-bound McDonald’s All-American Jordan Walsh added 16.

RELATED:   “In The Paint” Podcast  | Ballislife Podcast Network | How To Create A High School March Madness |  The Future of Big-Time High School Basketball | State Champions Invitational Announced   | History of High School Team RankingsAll-Time No. 1’s

Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
Powered by Ballislife.com

(10th poll of 2021-22 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, February 13; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included)

No.Prev.High School (City)Record
11Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)22-1
22Duncanville (Duncanville (Texas)26-1
33Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)19-4
44Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)27-1
55Centennial (Corona, Calif.)27-1
66IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)20-4
77Richardson (Richardson, Texas)29-1
88La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)16-4
99Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)26-7
1010Calvary Christian Academy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)19-2
1111Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)26-0
1212Camden (Camden, N.J.)17-2
1313Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)23-3
1414North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)20-3
1515Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)28-1
1616Centerville (Centerville, Ohio)22-0
1717Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)19-2
1819Weddington (Matthews, N.C.)23-0
1920Westerville South (Westerville, Ohio)19-0
2021Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)21-3
2122Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)17-4**
2218Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)22-5
2325St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)29-3
2423Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)26-0
2524Garfield (Seattle, Wash.)17-0
2626Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.)18-4**
2727Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.)20-3
2828Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.)22-1
2930Bishop McNamara (Forrestville, Md.)17-2
3033New Hanover (Wilmington, N.C.)20-0
3134Liberty (Henderson, Nev.)18-3
3235Oak Cliff Faith Family (Dallas, Texas)26-4**
3336Glenbrook South (Glenview, Ill.)28-2
3429St. Frances Prep (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)17-2
3531Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.)20-2
3632Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)19-3
3740Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.)21-5
3838Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.)17-4
3939South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.)19-2**
4043York Prep (Rock Hill, S.C.)21-0
4141Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)30-3
4242Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.)25-1
4344Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.)22-0
44NRNorth Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.)21-0
4545Durango (Las Vegas, Nev.)19-5
4646Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.)23-2
4748George Rodgers Clark (Winchester, Ky.)25-1
4849Westfield (Houston, Texas)26-1
4950Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.)18-1
50NRCatholic Central (Grand Rapids, Mich.)15-1

Dropped Out: Previous No. 37 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), No. 47 Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.).

Bubble Teams:  Auburn (Auburn, Wash.) 21-1; Beaumont United (Beaumont, Texas) 28-3; Beecher (Flint, Mich.) 14-1; Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) 14-2; Brophy Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) 23-2; Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 23-3; Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.) 14-2; Chambers (Charlotte. N.C.) 19-5; Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 17-5; Chesterton (Chesterton, Ind.) 20-0; Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.) 23-0; Cleveland (Clayton, N.C.) 23-1; Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 16-9; Damien (La Verne, Calif.) 27-2; Davis (Kaysville, Utah) 20-1; Del City (Cel City, Okla.) 17-3; DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) 15-5; Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.) 13-6; Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 15-6; John Marshall (Richmond, Va.) 15-4; Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.) 22-7; King (Detroit, Mich.) 12-1; Kingfisher (Kingsfisher, Okla.) 20-1; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 24-0; Lee’s Summit (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) 19-2**; Liberty (Liberty, Mo.) 20-2; Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 14-5; Magnolia (Magnolia, Ark.) 21-0; Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 20-1; Milton (Milton, Ga.) 18-7; Mount Si (Snoqualmie, Wash.) 20-0; Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.) 18-2; Mt. Vernon (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) 13-0; Newton (Covington, Ga.) 21-4; New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.) 26-3; Omaha Westside (Omaha, Neb.) 21-1; Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.) 21-5; Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) 19-1; Poly (Riverside, Calif.) 25-2; Richmond (Rockingham, N.C.) 21-1; Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 17-3; Simeon (Chicago) 23-4; South St. Paul (South St. Paul, Minn.) 19-0; Sunnyslope (Pheonix, Ariz.) 24-2; Staley (Kansas City, Mo.) 20-3; St. Thomas Aquinas (Edison, N.J.) 22-1; St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) 17-3; Varina (Richmond, Va.) 19-1; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 14-10; West Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 18-3; Westlake (Austin, Texas) 32-1; Westminster (Town and Country, Mo.) 21-1; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 21-4; Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) 20-9**; Williamston (Williamston, Mich.) 16-0; Wisconsin Lutheran (Milwaukee, Wis.) 19-2.

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 22 years ago.

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at ronnie@ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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