Top teams face looming tests

Updated: February 2, 2009, 9:26 PM ET

Editor's note: The ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings are compiled by Christopher Lawlor, Ronnie Flores, Ryan Canner-O'Mealy and Doug Huff. They will be released each Tuesday throughout the season.

Click here for regional rankings.

The postseason is on the horizon for teams in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings. Florida and Washington tip off the playoffs with district tournaments next week while other states come aboard in the coming weeks.

The power teams from the ESPN RISE rankings will be tested this week as top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) hosts No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) Saturday (ESPNU, midnight ET). No. 5 St. Patrick gets the first crack at St. Benedict's on Wednesday in a highly anticipated game. No. 10 Westchester (Los Angeles) and No. 14 Fairfax (Los Angeles) tangle for the second time this season. Two schools could meet twice more in the postseason.

Texas schools, No. 6 Madison (San Antonio) and No. 8 Strake Jesuit (Houston), continue their winning ways. The biggest mover and shaker this week is No. 24 Thornton (Harvey, Ill.), which leaps 19 spots. Thornton is Illinois' top-ranked Class 4A team and carries a 20-game win streak into the week.

The most intriguing matchup amongst the ESPN RISE teams will be No. 11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and No. 25 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) on Saturday (ESPNU, 10 p.m. ET). The game will be a contrast in styles, with DLS employing a Princeton-like offense and the Dons unleashing a free-wheeling approach. DLS Coach Frank Allocco, one of the brightest minds in the game, won't look past Dominguez.

In the Midwest, No. 13 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) plays Arthur Hill (Saginaw) Saturday. No. 28 Holmes (Covington, Ky.) is rounding into form after beating Scott County (Georgetown). Both teams are favorites to reach Kentucky's Sweet Sixteen State Tournament in March.

So expect a new look among the Top 10 team in the rankings next week after the dust settles.

Three-point play
Game Ball: Center Josh Smith of Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) had a monster week, scoring 101 points in three games, earning him player of the week honors. Smith, a 6-9 junior, had 43 points and 21 rebounds in a 62-60 win over Kentridge (Kent). He also scored 18 points against Auburn and began the week with 40 points against Jefferson (Auburn). Smith, an ESPNU Super 60 player, is averaging a Seattle-area best 27.1 points per game. He is considered one of the top players in the Class of 2010.

Games of the week: New Jersey basketball supremacy will be decided Wednesday at the Hoop Group Showcase Series when No. 5 St. Patrick (Elizabeth) meets No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) at the Rutgers Athletic Center (7:30 p.m. ET) in Piscataway. Last year St. Benedict's won, 68-62, halting a five-game losing skein in the all-time series. St. Patrick is energized with the addition of Kyree Irving, who became eligible three weeks ago after sitting out 30 days under state transfer guidelines. St. Benedict's week gets more hectic Saturday when it travels to top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) at the Nike Extravaganza. The game tips midnight ET on ESPNU.

The 2009 Nike Extravaganza tips off Friday for a two-day run at Mater Dei's Meruelo Center with five games (four of which are girls) at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday's morning session serves up five games beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

However it's the evening session that will pack the gymnasium. The lineup includes No. 10 Westchester (Los Angeles)-Rainier Beach (Seattle); No. 14 Fairfax (Los Angeles)-Whitney Young (Chicago); No. 25 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.)-No. 11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and No. 1 Mater Dei-No. 3 St. Benedict's. The latter two games will be shown on ESPNU.

Award winners: Ralph Tasker, most notably of Hobbs High in New Mexico, is the recipient of the 2009 Morgan Wootten Award: For Lifetime Achievement in Coaching High School Basketball. The award honors a boys' basketball coach who has achieved extraordinary results in and made a significant contribution to the game of basketball at the high school level. Wootten will present the award in March at the McDonald's High School All-America Game. Tasker passed away in 1999 at the age of 80.

"Ralph was a true pioneer of the game at the high school level and his lasting impact of the thousands of lives he touched over his 53 years will never be forgotten," Wootten said.

Tasker coached for 53 seasons at Sulphur Springs (Ohio), Lovington (N.M.) and Hobbs, where he compiled a 1,122-291 record.. His teams qualified for postseason play 48 times, winning 12 state championships. He was a two-time National High School Coach of the Year and was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Dorothy Gaters of Marshall (Chicago) is the girls' award recipient, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday.

Records are through Feb. 1.

Rankings: Preseason / Week 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 14 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / Final

Rank Team Record Previous Note
1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 22-0 1 It was a relatively easy week on the court for the Monarchs as they rolled past two Trinity league foes, but they got some bad news off it when it was learned 6-foot-7 Stanford-bound Andy Brown tore a knee ligament in Wednesday's 102-57 victory over Servite (Anaheim). He will miss the remainder of the season. Without Brown, they downed JSerra (San Juan Capistrano), 90-54, but his presence will be missed when the Monarchs take on No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) in the Nike Extravaganza.
2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 30-0 2 The Warriors capped a busy week stopping William Fleming (Roanoke), 75-45, as Oklahoma-recruit had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Bryon Allen added15 points. They also stopped Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.), 89-60.
3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) 19-0 3 The Gray Bees were idle last week but have a huge week ahead. They will play No. 5 St. Patrick (Elizabeth) Wednesday in their annual donnybrook at Rutgers University. Then it's off to California for a matchup with No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) with perhaps the top spot in the ESPN RISE rankings on the line.
4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 24-0 4 The Pilots won the Montverde (Fla.) Academy Invitational Tournament last weekend. They opened beating South Lake (Groveland, Fla.) as Victor Rudd went off with 27 points and 10 rebounds. In the semifinals, they beat Winter Springs (Fla.), 65-21, as Carlos Lopez scored 16 points. The championship game was much tougher, beating Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep, 62-58. Avery Bradley iced the game with two free throws, finishing with 23 points.
5 5. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 16-2 5 Kyree Irving continues to help the Celtics scoring 42 points in two games. He tossed in 20 points and sophomore Michael Gilchrist added 14 as the Celtics thumped Life Center (Burlington, N.J.), 86-60, avenging a loss last month. They also defeated Lawrenceville Prep, 99-55. Irving drained six 3-pointers en route to 22 points and North Carolina-bound guard Dexter Strickland scored 19.
6 Madison (San Antonio) 28-1 6 The Mavericks edged MacArthur (San Antonio), 35-34, as Kevin Simmons scored eight points and Stephen Baird and Jonathan Landry added seven points apiece.
7 LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.) 24-2 7 The Rattlers topped Lee (Huntsville), 85-74, as center DeMarcus Cousins poured in 25 points and grabbed 10 boards. Marlon Ford contributed 15 points and seven rebounds. The Rattlers open the postseason Friday (7 p.m. ET) against Citronelle in the Area 1, Class 5A playoffs.
8 Strake Jesuit (Houston) 27-0 10 The Crusaders keep cruising, defeating Houston schools Memorial, 59-39, and Northbrook, 72-19. Joey Brooks had 27points on 11 of 17 shooting, 10 rebounds and four steals and Tim Frazier 14 points and 10 rebounds against Memorial. Four players scored in double figures -- Brooks (18 points), Frazier (16), John Edel (10) and Peter McStravick (10) -- against Northbrook. This week it's Elsik (Alief) Tuesday and Alief Taylor Friday.
9 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 15-1 9 The Mustangs survived a scare from Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 52-50. Villanova-bound center Mouphtaou Yarou scored a game-high 18 points, sinking 12 of 14 free throws, and Terrence Ross added 12 points. The Mustangs converted 15 of 18 free throws (83.3%) for the game.
10 Westchester (Los Angeles) 21-1 11 The Comets rolled past two Western League foes but will be busy this upcoming weekend as they play No. 14 Fairfax (Los Angeles)Friday and Rainer Beach (Seattle) Saturday. Junior Dwayne Polee controlled the paint in a 75-30 victory over LACES (Los Angeles), contributing 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while junior Jordin Mayes added 13 points. Guard Dominique O'Connor added 12 points and eight assists during a 84-46 win over University (Los Angeles). Mayes added 22 points and seven assists.
11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 18-1 12 The Spartans won their 18th game in a 73-27 decision over Livermore. Balanced scoring was the story as the Spartans had five players in double figures, led by point guard Brandon Smith with 14 points and 10 assists. The Spartans have two games in the East Bay Athletic League before Saturday's contest in the Nike Extravaganza against No. 25 Dominguez (Compton) on ESPNU.
12 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 18-2 13 The Purple Eagles defeated St. John's (Washington, D.C.), 66-52. Princeton-bound forward Ian Hummer struck for 20 points and Cedrick Lindsay added 17. Game against Bishop O'Connell was postponed by snowfall and will be played Sunday but before that the Jesuit school plays Archbishop Carroll (Washington) on Tuesday and St. Mary's Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.) on Friday.
13 Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) 20-1 14 The Cobras beat Coral Glades (Coral Springs), 74-39. The regular season winds down this week with game Monday against South Plantation (Plantation) and the Big 8 tournament.
14 Fairfax (Los Angeles) 17-3 18 The Lions edged Palisades (Pacific Palisades) 84-83, as Lance Bailey's free throw in the final seconds was the difference. ESPNU 100 Center Renardo Sidney continues to play like a serious Mr. Basketball candidate as he put the Lions in position to win with 37 points and 12 rebounds. To close out the week, Sidney pumped in 30 points in a 82-44 victory over Hamilton (Los Angeles).
15 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 13-0 16 The Yellowjackets avenged last year's state Class B quarterfinal loss to Flint Powers with a 71-63 victory. DCD took a 16-2 lead and held off a second half run. Junior guard Ray McCallum led the way with 20 points. They also defeated Kennedy ( Taylor), 72-51. The Yellowjackets have three games on tap this week including a Saturday showdown vs. powerhouse Arthur Hill (Saginaw).
16 Rice (Manhattan, N.Y.) 12-2 8 Lost to St. Raymond (Bronx), 46-45, but rebounded to beat Jefferson (Brooklyn), 56-41. Also stopped Holy Cross (Flushing, 53-43, as Miami-bound Durand Scott pumped in 17 points. The Raiders have a revenge match Friday at St. Raymond.
17 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 16-2 19 Sean Johnson scored 29 points and Marion Smith added 14 as the Royals rallied to defeat Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn), 64-57. The Royals trailed by as many as 11 points, but used a 24-2 second-half run to put away the Lions for the second time in eight days. Johnson fueled the decisive run scoring 14 points. This week it's league rivals Archbishop Molloy (Queens) Friday and Xaverian (Brooklyn) Sunday.
18 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 16-3 15 Lost to Good Counsel (Olney), 55-54, in overtime. Game against St. John's (Washington, D.C.) was postponed due to inclement weather. The Stags beat John Marshall (Richmond, Va.), 69-65.
19 Olympia (Orlando) 20-3 20 The Titans swept three opponents, including a 70-55 decision over University (Orlando). The regular season concludes this week with Cypress Creek (Orlando) Tuesday and Bartow Saturday. The District 5-6A tournament tips off next week.
20 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 15-0 21 The Royals had five players score in double figures last week in a 92-58 rout of Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul). Royce White led the way with 17 points and Raymond Cowels contributed 16. Hopkins' next game is Tuesday vs. unbeaten Robbinsdale Cooper (New Hope).
21 Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.) 14-0 22 The Panthers continue to impress with dominating in-state wins this season. Last week, Indiana's top-ranked team routed Pike (Indianapolis), 75-50. South's closest margin of victory this season is 15 points. Jordan Hulls, an Indiana recruit, led the Panthers with 23 points.
22 Centennial (Roswell, Ga.) 18-2 23 The Knights peeled off three wins, capped by a 74-62 victory over Tucker. Ryan Fleming scored 20 points and Devonta White added 13. With less than two weeks and five games left in the regular season, the Knights play two Region 6B-AAAAA games this week against Milton (Alpharetta) on Tuesday and Alpharetta on Friday.
23 Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 27-2 24 The Greenies won three games by an average margin of 29 points, including a Rabun Gap (Ga.), 70-50. Mason Plumlee scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Lakeem Jackson scored 12. The Greenies made 10 of 20 3-pointers. They play at Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School Tuesday in a light week.
24 Thornton (Harvey, Ill.) 20-1 43 The No. 1-ranked Illinois team extended its win streak to 20 games with an 87-80 win over Fenger (Chicago). Darrell Robinson scored 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter. Reggie Smith led Thornton with 20 points and nine rebounds.
25 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) 18-4 26 The Dons crushed two San Gabriel Valley League foes. Kendle Warren and Keala King teamed for 31 points in an 88-37 victory over Warren (Downey). The defending CIF Southern Section Division I-AA champs closed out the week with a 99-54 victory over Gahr (Cerritos).

Rank Team Record Previous
26 Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) 18-0 28
27 Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.) 17-0 28
28 Holmes (Covington, Ky.) 20-1 44
29 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) 18-2 31
30 Northland (Columbus, Ohio) 13-1 17
31 Franklin (Seattle) 14-1 32
32 Norcross (Ga.) 19-1 33
33 McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) 19-1 34
34 South Atlanta (Atlanta) 18-3 35
35 Plano West (Plano, Texas) 23-2 36
36 Chester (Pa.) 17-2 30
37 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga,) 14-6 37
38 Petersburg (Va.) 18-0 38
39 Lawrence North (Indianapolis) 15-2 39
40 Pershing (Detroit) 13-1 29
41 Fayetteville (Ark.) 18-0 41
42 Lake Clifton (Baltimore) 17-0 45
43 Princeton (Cincinnati) 13-1 46
44 Hall (Little Rock, Ark.) 18-1 47
45 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 16-3 25
46 Atlantic Shores Christian (Chesapeake, Va.) 21-1 NR
47 Provo (Utah) 15-0 NR
48 Cedar Hill (Texas) 24-2 NR
49 Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.) 24-0 NR
50 Butler (Huntsville, Ala.) 25-3 50

Dropped out: No. 40 Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.); No. 42 Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.); and No. 48 Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.); and No. 49 Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.).