Roller coaster ride for Curie of Chicago comes to a close after Condors lose their first round game in Illinois Class 4A state tournament. This is the week we start to see some major movement because of playoff upsets, as three new teams crack the top 10 in additional to six clubs moving into the top 25. Curie’s ouster means a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 FAB 50 matchup could take place at the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament in New York at the conclusion of the season.
By Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis
Contributing: Doug Huff
Just as it wasn’t a big surprise the boys hoop team at Curie of Chicago was allowed to play in the Illinois state tournament by its state association, it didn’t come as a big shock the Condors didn’t last long in the Class 4A state tournament playing with only nine players. In fact, Curie was shocked in overtime by unranked DuSable (Chicago) 88-85 in the regional semifinals.
It was Curie’s first game in 11 days and even though coach Mike Oliver was reinstated for the state tournament, the Condors were hampered by the absence of their starting backcourt and couldn’t put DuSable away despite 25 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots from Mr. Basketball USA candidate Cliff Alexander. After winning the Chicago Public League title, Curie was stripped of all its wins up to that point. The Condors might be the most famous high school basketball ever to never officially win a game in the record books.
There were a few different ways to handle Curie’s forfeit losses and we chose the route that has always made the most sense to us as rankings compilers — let the student-athletes decide the team’s fate as much as possible. To speculate how Curie would have played the whole season without the missing players doesn’t make much sense. There was no need for it; Curie was going to be judged by how it did on the court and ranked accordingly.
Without the missing starters, and with the controversy surrounding its eligibility issues, it was going to be difficult for Curie to maintain hold on the No. 1 ranking in the Student Sports FAB 50. In reality, it wasn’t going to be an easy road for Curie to win an Illinois Class 4A state title even with a full-deck squad. It never is and that’s why Curie was elevated to No. 1 in the first place.
Playoff Upsets Lead To FAB 50 Shakeup
Curie wasn’t the only highly-ranked team to lose on the court last week. White Station of Memphis, which was at No. 5 in the FAB 50 two weeks ago, was upset 70-65 by Arlington (Arlington, Tenn.) in a Class AAA section title game and is done for the season.
Another top 10 team to go down in flames was Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.). The Railsplitters were stunned in the New York Public School Athletic League semifinals by Jefferson (New York) 77-74 at LUI-Brooklyn. It marked the final game in the 19-year tenure for the colorful Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, who led Lincoln to eight PSAL titles and three New York Federation titles. Morton, a former player at Lincoln, coached 2004 Mr. Basketball USA Sebastian Telfair, two-time Student Sports All-American Stephon Marbury and current Indiana Pacer Lance Stephenson. He is reportedly set to join Seton Hall’s coaching staff. Lincoln’s two best players, McDonald’s All-American Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez, inked with the Pirates.
Jefferson went on to lose in the PSAL title game to Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.), giving 33-year Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio his first PSAL title since 1999.
Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.) was gunning to earn the highest FAB 50 ranking ever for a Minnesota team, but the Eagles were stunned by Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) 89-77 in the Class AAAA Section 3 championship to prevent a return trip to next weekend’s state tournament. Apple Valley, led by Mr. Basketball USA candidate and Duke recruit Tyus Jones, was the prohibitive favorites to win a second consecutive state title at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Apple Valley, which entered the game with only one loss to No. 5 Whitney Young (Chicago), would have moved into the top 10 with a victory. The highest FAB 50 finish ever from a Minnesota team occurred in 1999-2000 when North of Bloomington finished No. 11.
The rash of upsets among top 25 clubs allowed for a big jump in the FAB 50 for previous No. 50 North Shore (Galena, Texas). The Mustangs closed out their season with 17 consecutive victories to move to No. 22 in the FAB 50 this week. In the Class 5A state title game, North Shore downed previous No. 25 Judson (Converse, Texas) 57-45 as Texas prep legend and NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal watched Jarrey Foster score 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Mustangs. Shaq was on hand as part of a 25-year recognition ceremony for the unbeaten team he led at Cole of San Antonio to a Texas state title in 1989.
No. 1 vs. No. 2?
With Curie knocked from its perch, preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) is back in the FAB 50’s pole position. The Eagles, who don’t play for a state title in Florida, finished their regular season 24-1 with the only on-court loss to Curie. With new No. 2 Rainier Beach (Seattle) capturing the Washington Class 3A state title on Saturday night with a 47-45 win over Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.), the table is now set for a possible showdown between the two clubs at the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament in New York during Final Four weekend.
The two teams are likely going to be placed in opposite brackets, but there is no guarantee both will make it to the title game at Madison Square Garden. It will be a strong field of teams and it will be Rainier Beach’s first trip to a post-season tournament with this level of competition. The Vikings punched their ticket to New York when senior Dejuan Piper scored a basket late in the game versus Eastside Catholic as Rainier Beach won its third state title in a row.
Updated Student Sports FAB 50
Boys Basketball National Team Rankings
(11th poll of the 2013-14 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, March 9; Previous ranking in parentheses; *Indicates season complete; **Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included.)
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*Indicates season complete; **Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included
Dropped Out: Previous No. 26 Brookfield Central (Brookfield, Wis.); No. 27 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.); No. 32 Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.); No. 38 Bullis (Potomac, Md.); No. 40 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.); No. 44 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.).
Bubble Teams: Allentown Central Catholic (Allentown, Pa.) 28-0; Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.) 22-4; Arlington (Arlington, Tenn.) 28-4; Ballard (Louisville, Ky.) 34-5; Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) 26-1*; Capital Christian (Sacramento, Calif.) 27-3; Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.) 26-2*; Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 25-3; Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 23-6; De La Salle (Minneapolis, Minn.) 23-3; Denver East (Denver, Colo.) 22-4; Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 26-4; Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins, Colo.) 26-0; Garfield (Seattle, Wash.) 27-1*; Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) 29-5*; Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) 22-6; Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) 22-3; Jonesboro (Jonesboro, Ark.) 27-3; Lee’s Summit West (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) 24-3; Linden (Linden, N.J.) 22-4; McComb (McComb, Miss.) 30-1; Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.) 28-1; Morgan Park (Chicago, Ill.) 18-6; New Castle (New Castle, Pa.) 27-0; North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.) 25-2; O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) 18-11; Orr (Chicago, Ill.) 22-4; Potomac (Dumfries, Va.) 27-1; Simeon (Chicago, Ill.) 20-6**; St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 22-2; St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) 26-4; St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) 25-2; Wando (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) 25-4; Washington (Charles Town, W. Va.) 23-0; Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) 24-9*; West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) 21-4; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 29-6*; Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 24-2.
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.