After a close call in conference play, Curie of Chicago remains the No. 1 team in the Student Sports FAB 50, which also doesn’t see any movement in its top 10. It won’t be easy for the Condors the rest of the way, however, as a potential showdown looms down the line with No. 6 Whitney Young of Chicago. The Dolphins play this week in the game of the week at the Nike Extravaganza in Southern California where they will square off against No. 4 Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The Monarchs’ two games at the Nike Extravaganza will provide two great comparative scores against No. 2 Montverde Academy of Florida and No. 3 Rainier Beach of Seattle.
By Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis
Contributing: Doug Huff
When the decision was made last week to place Curie of Chicago No. 1 in the Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings, we knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing for the Condors to finish their season as the top-ranked team in the country. In fact, that was one of the main factors in the decision at the time.
The good competition in the Chicago Public League, not to mention the teams’ familiarity with each other and the high-energy crowds, traditionally creates many upsets among its teams. Many ranked teams from around the country would have major trouble matching up against Curie, but Public League teams such as Hyde Park of Chicago aren’t easily intimidated.
The day after its win over No. 2 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), Curie pulled out a gut-check win over Hyde Park 60-58 when Joseph Stamps converted a lay-up with 0.1 seconds remaining. Curie was down by five points at one point in the final period. Stamps finished with 16 points and Mr. Basketball USA candidate Cliff Alexander had 23 points, 12 rebound and five blocked shots.
Expect more close games for Curie, which will look to wrestle away the Public School crown from defending champion and No. 6 Whitney Young (Chicago).
Before Windy City hoop fans and national rankings followers can get excited about a potential Curie-Whiney Young postseason showdown, the Dolphins will head to California on Saturday to face No. 4 Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the marquee game of the two-day Nike Extravaganza. It will be the 13th game for the Dolphins against out-of-state competition and for Mater Dei, a crucial game for its mythical national title hopes. Veteran coach Gary McKnight is approaching 1,000 career victories, but his storied program has never finished ranked No. 1 in the nation — and no California team has since the 1999-2000 season.
It will be a tough game for Mater Dei, which has only lost twice at the Meruelo Athletic Center since it opened in 2007, but probably not as tough as it will be to win the first-ever CIF Southern Section Open Division crown before the state regional playoffs begin. That field will likely include No. 15 Loyola (Los Angeles), No. 27 Centennial (Corona, Calif.), No. 35 Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.), No. 46 Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and No. 50 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.).
On Friday, Mater Dei will face Village Christian (Sun Valley, Calif.), which lost to No. 2 Montverde Academy by 50 points (96-46). Saturday’s game against Whitney Young will also be key for a comparison of the Monarchs versus No. 3 Rainer Beach of Seattle. The Vikings defeated Whitney Young 89-82.
Team On The Rise
Rainier Beach also owns a 95-67 win over No. 30 Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, which makes a nice move up in this week’s FAB 50 after defeating No. 18 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) for the first time in program history after six consecutive losses.
More teams on the rise could emerge in Florida where Montverde Academy hosts its own tournament this week against a solid field.
Later, Montverde will likely be a top seed in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament held April 3-5 in New York City. Should the Eagles win the rest of their regular season games and that tournament, while Curie wins the Illinois Class 4A title without another loss, the Condors would be slam dunk mythical national champion based on the head-to-head win. That scenario, as we outlined above, is still far from reality.
Updated Student Sports FAB 50
Boys Basketball National Team Rankings
(Fifth poll of the 2013-14 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, January 27; Previous ranking in parentheses)
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Dropped Out: Previous No. 29 Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.); No. 40 Neuman-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.); No. 41 Hickman (Columbia, Mo.).
Bubble Teams: Bullis (Potomac, Md.) 15-3; Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) 13-0; Central (Omaha, Neb.) 14-1; Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) 15-1; City College (Baltimore, Md.) 13-0; Denver East (Denver, Colo.) 12-3; De Soto (De Soto, Texas) 19-3; Eastside (Paterson, N.J.) 13-1; Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins, Colo.) 15-0; Germantown (Germantown, Wis.) 14-1; Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 22-2; Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) 10-3; Jackson (Mill Creek, Wash.) 15-1; Johnson (St. Paul, Minn.) 16-2; Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) 12-2; Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.) 13-2; Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.) 18-0; Mount Vernon (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) 9-1; Neuman-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 12-4; New Castle (New Castle, Pa.) 17-0; North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 15-1; O’Connell (Washington, D.C.) 11-7; Parkview (Little Rock, Ark.) 15-1; Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 12-3; St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 10-3; St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 13-1; Washington (Charles Town, W. Va.) 11-0; Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) 17-4; Westlake (Atlanta, Ga.) 21-1; Zanesville (Zanesville, Ohio) 13-0.
Note: The STUDENT SPORTS FAB 50 is a continuation of the National Sports News Service ratings that began in 1952. These were the first national high school rankings and they were compiled by the late Art Johlfs of Minnesota. They were compiled for many years by the late Barry Sollenberger of Phoenix, who merged them into the FAB 50 14 years ago.