NEW FAB 50: Champions Crowned!

NEW FAB 50: Champions Crowned!

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Regional and state champs are beginning to be crowned and for teams in power states, there will inevitably be a roadblock put out on the road by another team in the latest edition of the FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com. There is some movement this week plus one newcomer, No. 50 Pascagoula (Pascagoula, Miss.).

By Ronnie Flores

Good team have a group of realistic goals it sets at the beginning of each season. One is to win league or conference titles and go on to capture regional or sectional titles. The big prize for many, obviously, is a state championship.

For some, those goals were realized this past week and for another highly-ranked club the dream came to fruition on Monday evening.

One club that is actually outside the latest FAB 50 National Team Rankings powered by Ballislife.com is bubble club Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.). The Gaels took some lumps early, but avenged losses to Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) and Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) to capture the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) Class 5A state title.

Coach Grant Rice’s club defeated Coronado in the state championship game, 63-60, as senior Noah Westbrook, playing high school basketball for the first time, had 13 points and nine rebounds and did his best to thwart Coronado junior big man Tee Bartlett. Bishop Gorman doesn’t quite have a resume strong enough to crack into the FAB 50, but its final positioning won’t be determined into all the results of the season are complete. For now, Gorman and other state champions who have competed its season is listed by an asterisk (***).

Rice has now coached the Gorman program to 14 state titles, and its first since 2020 right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rice has coached many FAB 50 ranked state champs, but even though this team is a notch below its national competition, this is one of the most satisfying of the 14 state titles considering where the program began last fall with player defections and a young roster.

Hawaii has also crowned its state champs and after this week Mississippi will also be complete. This week’s lone newcomer is No. 50 Pascagoula (Pascagoula, Miss.), the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) top-ranked Class 6A club that is two wins away from a coveted state crown. On Wednesday, the Panthers take on 23-9 Ridgeland (Miss.) and will face either Olive Branch (Miss.) or Terry (Miss.) on Saturday for the title if they win in the semis. Pascagoula has avenged its only loss to Madison Central (Madison, Miss.).

For some teams that took a recent loss, such as No. 19 Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.), the season is not over and those teams will look to bounce back in the regional or state playoffs. Stepinac fell to unranked St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.), a team it had already beaten twice, in the New York Archdiocesan Class AA Championship and will look to bounce back in the upcoming Intersectional AA tourney after dropping two spots this week.

Last season, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) captured the coveted California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Open Division state crown after bouncing back from losing in the CIF Southern Section Open Division pool play format and failing to advance to the section title game. This year, one of the Wolverines’ main goals was to win the Mission League Tournament (which they did) and repeat as state champions while capturing the sectional crown.

The No. 10 ranked Wolverines completed goal No. 2 by defeating then No. 21 Roosevelt (Eastvale, Calif.), 54-47, in the CIFSS open title game at Cal Baptist University in Riverside to capture the program’s first ever section open crown. As has been the case in the post-season, Harvard-Westlake clamped down on defense and worked the boards, holding Roosevelt to 30 percent shooting from the field while limiting star guard Brayden Burries to 4-of-14 shooting from the field in a 14-point performance. Doing alot of the work defensively on Burries was junior forward Nik Khamenia, who has drawn many tough assignments in the playoff the past two seasons and came up with passing grades. Khamenia had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Harvard-bound Robert Hinton also had 15 points, including two free throws that iced the game with 13 seconds to go after a loose ball foul was called on the snake-bit Mustangs off a Harvard-Westlake missed free throw.

Harvard-Westlake is now the No. 1 seed in the upcoming CIF SoCal Open Regional Playoffs, which get underway on Wednesday. The Mustangs come in as the No. 2 seed and FAB 50 No. 26 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) is the No. 3 seed. The top seed in the NorCal open playoffs is No. 36 Salesian (Richmond, Calif.), which has only lost to No. 35 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), the top seed in the CIF SoCal D1 regional tournament.

The top two seeds in both the NorCal and SoCal open regional have byes. The open regional finals are set for March 5 with the CIF Open State Championship set for March 9 at the Golden One Center in Sacramento.

League/Conference titles are huge in many regions of the country, and not many are more prestigious than the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) tournament title. The WCAC title game was held on Monday night, so its result won’t be credited until next week’s FAB 50, but the result is more than newsworthy now.

FAB 50 No. 3 Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) captured its second WCAC title in three seasons with a 63-51 victory over No. 16 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) at American University. Duke-bound Darren Harris led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds for a program that is in the thick of the FAB 50 national title race.

With the win, Paul VI is the first team to go unbeaten in WCAC play and capture the tournament title in the same season since 2011-12. That season, Paul VI pulled off the WCAC double in addition to winning the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) title when it finished No. 12 in the FAB 50.

In what spot will the Panthers finish this season?

RELATED:  Preseason 2023-24 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker | “In The Paint” Podcast (Spotify) |  “In The Paint” Podcast (YouTube) 

Updated FAB 50 National Team RankingsPowered by Ballislife.com

(10th poll of 2023-24 regular season; Through games played on Sunday, February 25; *Indicates forfeit wins, forfeit losses not included; **Indicates forfeits and defaults not included; ***Indicates season complete.)

No. Prev. High School (City)Record

11Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)27-0

22Columbus (Miami, Fla.)25–4

33Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)29-2

44Long Island Lutheran (Glen Head, N.Y.)17-4

55Plano East (Plano, Texas)35-0

66Stony Point (Round Rock, Texas)34-1

77Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.)24-2

88Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.)29-5

99Link Academy (Branson, Mo.)20-6

1010Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)29-3

1111Central Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)27-0

1212AZ Compass Prep (Chandler, Ariz.)23-5

1313IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)15-8

1414Wisconsin Lutheran (Milwaukee, Wis.)24-0

1515Fishers (Fishers, Ind.)22-1

1622Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)27-4

1716St. Rose (Belmar, N.J.)25-2

1823De Pere (De Pere, Wis.)23-1

1917Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.)22-4

2018Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)25-3

2120McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.)24-5

2224Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Pa.)22-2

2319Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.) 21-2

2421Roosevelt (Eastvale, Calif.)30-3

2529St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)20-1

2626Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.)26-3

2727La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)22-4

2828Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.)24-7

2930Great Crossing (Georgetown, Ky.)29-1

3031Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.)26-3

3132Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)29-3

3239Ridge View (Columbia, S.C.)25-2

3340Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)27-2

3433Patrick School (Elizabeth, N.J.)24-4

3534St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)24-7

3635Salesian (Richmond, Calif.)29-1

3736North Mecklenburg (Huntersville, N.C.)24-3

3837Millennium (Goodyear, Ariz.)24-4

3943Bartlett (Bartlett, Tenn.)28-4

4041John Marshall (Richmond, Va.)22-3

4142Westfield (Westfield, Ind.)19-2

4225Cordova (Cordova, Tenn.)28-2

4344Kell (Marietta, Ga.)25-3

4445Jackson-Reed (Washington, D.C.)32-2

4546Bullis (Potomac, Md.)25-2

4647Sidwell Friends (Washington, D.C.)24-4

4748Huntsville (Huntsville, Ala.)32-2

4849Curie (Chicago, Ill.)29-2

4950Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.)27-1

50NRPascagoula (Pascagoula, Miss.)29-1

Dropped Out: Previous No. 38 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.).

Bubble Teams: Alexander (Douglasville, Ga.) 27-2; Bay Shore (Bay Shore, N.Y.) 21-0; Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.) 23-1; Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) 23-8; Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 24-5***; Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 26-4; Brennan (San Antonio, Texas) 30-4; Camden (Camden, N.J.) 25-2; Christian (Grand Rapids, Mich.) 19-2; Dale (Dale, Okla.) 26-2; Dearborn (Dearborn, Mich.) 22-0; De Paul Prep (Chicago, Ill.) 30-2; East Lansing (East Lansing, Mich.) 20-2; Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.) 20-3; Fort Bend Clements (Sugar Land, Texas) 32-0; Garfield Heights (Garfield Heights, Ohio) 21-1; Homewood Flossmor (Flossmor, Ill.) 28-4; Hoover (Hoover, Ala.) 32-4; Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia, Pa.) 23-3; Kennedy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) 22-0; Kokomo (Kokomo, Ind.) 22-3; Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.) 23-1; Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) 21-3; Lexington (Lexington, S.C.) 27-2; Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Ky.) 28-2; Liberty Magnet (Baton Rouge, La.) 29-4; Lincoln Park (Midland, Pa.) 21-3; Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, La.) 27-3; Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) 20-2; Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) 35-4; Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) 21-3; Newport (Newport, Ky.) 27-3; Noblesville (Noblesville, Ind.) 20-2; North Crowley (Ft. Worth, Texas) 32-3; Northwest (Shawnee Mission, Kan.) 20-0; Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 20-4; Pewaukee (Pewaukee, Wis.) 20-4; Reidsville (Reidsville, N.C.) 23-0; Southern Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.) 26-1; St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) 19-3; St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) 24-2; St. Pius X-St. Matthias (Downey, Calif.) 24-6; St. Raymond (Bronx, N.Y.) 22-5; Thornton (Harvey, Ill.) 27-4; Union (Tulsa, Okla.) 23-2; Varina (Richmond, Va.) 21-1; Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) 20-6; Veterans Memorial (San Antonio, Texas) 37-1; Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, N.M.) 25-1; Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) 14-4; Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.) 24-1.

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 24 years ago.

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

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