As the playoffs near, the real contenders for the mythical FAB 50 national championship are beginning to separate themselves from teams simply having excellent seasons. That was evident at the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament, as the No. 3 ranked and host Eagles captured the championship and knocked two teams from national championship consideration. This week’s results yielded three newcomers, including No. 35 Vashon of Missouri, which took third place in the MAIT, and No. 40 Fairfax (Los Angeles), which downed its archival to move in to the deepest set of rankings in the industry.
By Ronnie Flores
Many teams use the short week that follows MLK Weekend to recoup and return to league action and prepare for the post-season. For the nation’s truly elite programs, however, there is really no rest as major showcases dot each weekend leading up to various state tournaments. For Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) and Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.), the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in Florida offered a chance to establish themselves as serious contenders in the FAB 50 National title race.
What ended up transpiring was the field of bonafide No. 1 contender shrunk, as host and FAB 50 No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) crushed Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.), 79-56, in Saturday’s title game. McDonald’s All-American Precious Achiuwa led the way with 23 points and was named tournament MVP. Wing Cade Cunningham and guard Harlond Beverly also made the all-tournament team. Rancho Christian was actually able to move up in this week’s FAB 50 because Montverde Academy has also easily dispatch No. 6 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) and defeated No. 8 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) twice by sizable margins.
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The other reason Rancho Christian was actually able to move up after the title game loss is Wasatch Academy came into the MAIT unbeaten, but had its bubble burst in a 74-47 semifinal loss to the California club. Top-notch junior Evan Mobley led the way with 20 points, as the Eagles handed Wasatch Academy its first loss of the season. We actually evaluated Wasatch Academy the week before and it had trouble with a pedestrian Santa Monica (Calif.) team and barely escaped with a victory over bubble club Clark (Las Vegas, Nev.) on MLK Monday, so we actually dropped the Tigers two spots last week even though they were still unbeaten at the time.
Wasatch also lost to Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) in the third place game, 70-58, to tumble all the way to No. 38 this week. Vashon is this week’s highest rated newcomer among three teams at No. 35, as it knocked off previous No. 36 Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.) 63-59 to open the MAIT.
New No. 40 Fairfax (Los Angeles) downed Western League rival Westchester (Los Angeles), 50-48, as UNLV-commit Ethan Anderson netted 23 points and senior Robert McRae III nailed two free throws with 23 seconds remaining to seal the victory. Westchester came into the game ranked No. 23 and falls down to No. 44. From a national perspective it may look odd the drop the Comets behind a few teams it deserves to be ranked ahead of, particularly No. 28 Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.) and No. 29 Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.), but coach Ed Azzam’s club must be ranked behind its rival for now but it could all change as the two teams lock horns again on January 31. Should Westchester win the return match and not lose another game this week, it would then go back in front of those teams it bested at the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina.
The results this week also cause Centennial (Corona, Calif.) to make a big jump up in the rankings to No. 33 after breaking in last week. The underclass-dominated Huskies handed Fairfax its only loss so far, and have only lost to Sierra Canyon and to Rancho Christian twice. One of those losses was by only two points, so Centennial definitely deserves to be ranked ahead of Wasatch Academy.
Rancho Christian and Sierra Canyon will lock horns this weekend at the Battle of the Valleys Showcase in Southern California. Similar to Westchester and Fairfax in the L.A. City Section Open Division playoffs, those two clubs could (and are likely to) meet again in the post-season.
Will the loser of that game deserve to stay ranked ahead or be dropped below fast-rising Salesian? The Pride are the favorites to represent NorCal in the CIF Open Division championship game March 9 in Sacramento. Salesian remains undefeated and is up nine spots in this week’s FAB 50.
Updated FAB 50 National Team Rankings
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(Eighth poll of 2018-19 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 27; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Indicates scrimmages and foundation games not included; ****Indicates season not complete)
|No.||Prev.||High School (City)||Record|
|1||1||La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.)||22-0|
|2||2||McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.)||22-0|
|3||3||Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)||17-2|
|4||4||IMG Academy (Brandenton, Fla.)||24-1|
|5||5||DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)||19-2|
|6||6||Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.)||16-3|
|7||7||Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)||20-2|
|8||8||Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)||23-2|
|9||12||Mountain Brook (Mountain Brook, Ala.)||24-3|
|10||15||Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.)||20-4|
|11||26||Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.)||17-1|
|12||11||Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.)||14-5|
|13||10||Ranney School (Tinton Falls, N.J.)||21-3|
|14||21||Warren Central (Indianapolis, Ind.)||17-1|
|15||14||University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)||16-4|
|16||25||Salesian (Richmond, Calif.)||24-0|
|17||16||Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.)||15-6|
|18||17||Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.)||19-3|
|19||18||Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.)||24-3|
|20||19||Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.)||15-4|
|21||20||Belleville West (Belleville, Ill.)||21-1|
|22||27||Curie (Chicago, Ill.)||24-1|
|23||22||Nicolet (Glendale, Wis.)||14-1|
|24||33||Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio)||15-0|
|25||28||Guyer (Denton, Texas)||24-4|
|26||31||Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.)||16-2|
|27||32||Federal Way (Federal Way, Wash.)||18-2|
|28||24||Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.)||23-1|
|29||29||Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.)||17-1|
|30||34||Lancaster (Lancaster, Texas)||22-2|
|31||35||Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.)||22-1|
|32||37||Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.)||19-0|
|33||50||Centennial (Corona, Calif.)||23-3|
|34||40||Olive Branch (Olive Branch, Miss.)||17-6|
|35||NR||Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.)||13-5|
|36||41||Bartlett (Barlett, Tenn.)||22-2|
|37||42||Hilliard Bradley (Hilliard, Ohio)||15-0|
|38||9||Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah)||21-2|
|39||44||South Central (Winterville, N.C.)||17-1|
|40||NR||Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.)||20-1|
|41||36||Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)||15-2|
|42||13||St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.)||22-4|
|43||39||Abington (Abington, Pa.)||16-1|
|44||23||Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.)||18-2|
|45||46||Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)||20-7|
|46||48||Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.)||15-0|
|47||30||Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)||18-4|
|48||48||Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio)||16-1|
|49||49||Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)||16-5|
|50||NR||East Coweta (East Coweta, Ga.)||23-1|
Dropped Out: Previous No. 38 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.), No. 43 Benton Harbor (Benton Harbor, Mich.), No. 45 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.).
Bubble Teams: Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.) 18-2; Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 17-1; Benton Harbor (Benton Harbor, Mich.) 14-1; Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 11-3; Biloxi (Biloxi, Miss.) 25-0; Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 18-1; Bloom (Chicago Heights, Ill.) 19-2; Bogan (Chicago, Ill.) 21-2; Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) 14-2; Boys Latin (Baltimore, Md.) 20-3; Brentwood (Brentwood, N.Y.) 16-0; Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) 11-1; Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 16-4; Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) 14-1; Carmel Christian (Matthews, N.C.) 26-2; Center Hill (Olive Branch, Miss.) 22-2; Central Plains (Claflin, Kan.) 12-0; Clark (Las Vegas, Nev.) 18-3; Discovery (Lawrenceville, Ga.) 20-3; Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 11-2; Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.) 19-3; Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) 17-1; Edmond Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) 16-2; Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 22-2; Gilbert (Gilbert, Ariz.) 22-1; Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.) 15-3; Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 16-5; Grandview (Grandview, Mo.) 14-2; Haverford School (Haverford, Pa.) 18-0; Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 18-2; John Hardin (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 23-0; Keenan (Columbia, S.C.) 21-1; Kennedy Catholic (Hermitage, Pa.) 12-3; Las Cruces (Las Cruces, N.M.) 19-0; La Salle College (Philadelphia, Pa.) 17-0; Lawrence (Lawrence, Kan.) 10-1; Lewis-Palmer (Monument, Col.) 16-0; Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas) 26-2; Maria Goretti (Hagerstown, Md.) 17-4; Maryville (Maryville, Tenn.) 22-1; Meadowcreek (Norcross, Ga.) 19-4; Memorial (Tulsa, Okla.) 14-3; Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Ky.) 12-2; Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 22-3; New Haven (New Haven, Mich.) 13-1; Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) 17-7; North Scott (Eldridge, Iowa) 15-0; Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) 12-4; Patterson (Baltimore, Md.) 11-3; Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) 21-3; Poly (Baltimore, Md.) 12-4; Pleasant Grove (Pleasant Grove, Utah) 15-2; River Rouge (River Rouge, Mich.) 12-1; Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.) 16-4; Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.) 28-1; South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 16-3; Springfield Southeast (Springfield, Ill.) 18-2; Starkville (Starkville, Miss.) 21-1; St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 19-3; Trinity Catholic (St. Louis, Mo.) 17-1; Upson-Lee (Thomaston, Ga.) 21-1; Wagner (San Antonio, Texas) 23-5; Wright (New Orleans, La.) 26-4.
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 19 years ago.