Top teams face looming tests

Updated: February 10, 2009, 12:00 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.

If last week was an indication, then expect the next three weeks to fuel a frenetic February for the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings.

[+] EnlargeTravis Wear
Scott Kurtz Travis Wear leads undefeated Mater Dei.

Top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) showed its mettle during a victory over previous-No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.). Mater Dei has adjusted its lineup following the season-ending injury to 6-foot-8 Andy Brown.

No. 8 St. Benedict's, which tumbled five spots, were reeling following a blowout loss to No. 3 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.). A pair of losses versus Top 5 teams shows the Gray Bees play a challenging schedule. The ESPN RISE rankings' main criterion is strength of schedule. Expect Coach Dan Hurley to rededicate himself to rest of the season; the Gray Bees are a quality club.

St. Patrick avoided a trap game against Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.), winning the second of two meetings between the clubs Sunday. The Celtics have a monumental weekend with back-to-back games against Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), Friday and Saturday, respectively.

In Los Angeles, it's business as usual with No. 12 Westchester and No. 13 Fairfax splitting their regular season series. The two likely will meet again in the postseason.

Kudos to No. 11 Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) for winning its third consecutive BCAA Big 8 Tournament title. Now the fun begins as Florida's district tournaments tip this week.

No. 10 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) is one team you won't want to face in the postseason. The Spartans run a version of the Princeton offense, where misdirection and backdoor cuts are the norm. They also play a sticky zone defense which is limiting teams to 32 points per game. To wit, the Spartans grounded high-flying No. 32 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.), 64-38, at the Nike Extravaganza. DLS and No. 31 McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) are on a collision course to replay in the CIF-Northern California Division I bracket.

Three teams were added to the rankings, with No. 43 Bellevue (Wash.) as the lone newcomer. No. 49 Yates (Houston) and No. 50 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) were previously ranked.

An intriguing matchup is slated for Saturday night when No. 23 Christ School (Arden, N.C.) hosts No. 22 Centennial (Roswell, Ga.). Next week the top game is No. 15 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) playing Bloomington (Ind.) South on Feb. 21 in a game that may reshape the Midwest Region rankings. This is a good game because both Michigan and Indiana schools have tight travel rules and little wiggle room on their schedules.

Three-point play

Game Ball: Fairfax (Los Angeles) center Renardo Sidney Jr., a national player of the year candidate, turned in four clutch performances, earning him player of the week honors as No.13 Fairfax (Los Angeles) went 4-0. Sidney, a 6-foo-10 post player, had 26 points and 20 rebounds in a 49-42 win over No. 12 Westchester (Los Angeles). He recorded a key dunk and made several clutch free throws down the stretch, pulling the Lions into a first-place tie in the Western League standings with it rival.

[+] EnlargeRenardo Sidney
Chris Williams/Icon SMIRenardo Sidney is playing inspired basketball, of late.

Sidney, No. 5 in the ESPNU 100, also scored 28 points against Palisades (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and 19 against Whitney Young (Chicago) at the Nike Extravaganza. He likely will be selected to the McDonald's All-American Game and is undecided on college.

Game of the week: If you can't make it Friday (7 p.m. ET) to Fordham University's Rose Hill Gymnasium, you can watch the No. 3 St. Patrick-Lincoln matchup on ESPN2. The game is one of three games of the Nike Super Six which tips off at 5 p.m. when No. 16 Rice (Manhattan, N.Y.) plays Paterson (N.J.) Catholic. The finale is No. 19 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Jefferson (Brooklyn) at 9 p.m.

The marquee game has Lincoln's Lance Stephenson (No. 8-ranked player in the ESPNU 100), one of the nation's top undecided seniors and Maryland-bound forward James Padgett facing the St. Patrick quartet of guard Dexter Strickland (North Carolina recruit), 6-foot-6 Paris Bennett (George Mason), 6-foot-3 junior Kyree Irving and 6-foot-7 sophomore Michael Gilchrist.

Must-see event: Organizer Jeff Hewitson has pulled off another two-day coup, featuring 16 games (eight each day) at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J. The Prime Time Shootout serves as a last-chance for teams to see postseason quality competition in the regular season. Saturday's best games are: No. 16 Rice-Rancocas Valley (Mount Holly, N.J.), 3 p.m. ET; Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.)-No. 8 St. Benedict's, 4:30; Lincoln-No. 12 Westchester (Los Angeles), 7:30; and No. 2 Oak Hill Academy-No. 3 St. Patrick, 9 p.m.

Sunday's top three games are: Elizabeth (N.J.)-No. 20 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), noon; No. 2 Oak Hill Academy-Linden (N.J.), 3; and No. 9 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)-Shabazz (Newark, N.J.), 4:30.

Records are through Feb. 8.

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.) 24-0 1 The Monarchs defeated Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) for the second time this season, 73-46, behind a combined 24 points from twin towers David and Travis Wear. They also received a strong performance from new starter Connor Hughes, a 6-foot-6 senior better known his for volleyball prowess, in a 73-61 victory over previous-No. 3 St. Benedict's at the Nike Extravaganza in Santa Ana. Hughes contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 32-0 2 The Warriors buried two opponents. First, they crushed The Miller School (Charlottesville, Va.),78-55, and then Sound Doctrine Academy (LaGrange, Ga.),112-60. Glenn Bryant had 27 points and 12 blocks against Sound Doctrine. This weekend, Coach Steve Smith's club returns to Trenton, N.J. for a pair of tough games in the Prime Time Shootout, No. 3 St. Patrick on Saturday and Linden (N.J.) on Sunday.
3 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) 19-2 5 The Celtics flexed their muscles last week, winning three games and setting themselves up for a rugged weekend. First they knocked off previous-No. 3 St. Benedict's, 86-62, as Dexter Strickland and Kyree Irving struck for 21 points apiece. They also defeated Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.), 39-35, and The Hun School (Princeton, N.J.), 69-48. Strickland was injured against Hun on a dunk when his head struck the court. He received five stitches above his eye but will be ready to go against Lincoln on Friday in New York.

4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 24-0 4 Findlay Prep was idle this week. The Pilots have two games this week against Las Vegas schools Foothill and Bishop Gorman.
5 Madison (San Antonio) 30-1 6 The Mavericks defeated Smithson Valley, 87-46, as Stephen Baird scored 16 points and Samuel Capps added 13. They also defeated Churchill (San Antonio), 47-38.
6 LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.) 25-2 7 The Rattlers bounced Citronelle, 84-32, in the Class 5A, Area 1 playoffs as South Alabama-bound Kentari Nettles had 14 points and eight rebounds. Coach Otis Hughley's club played Faith Academy (Mobile) Monday night in the area final.
7 Strake Jesuit (Houston) 29-0 8 Notre Dame-bound guard Joey Brooks scored 33 points, making 3 of 4 3-pointers, and Tim Frazier added 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 76-59 win over Elsik (Alief, Texas). The Crusaders also beat Alief Taylor, 54-38, pulling away with a 20-10 fourth-quarter showing. Brooks hit for 24 points.
8 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) 19-2 3 The Gray Bees dropped a pair of games against top five teams, losing to top-ranked Mater Dei, 73-61, at the Nike Extravaganza, and previous-No. 5 St. Patrick, 86-62. Sophomore Tavon Sledge scored 17 points against Mater Dei.

9 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) 16-1 9 Villanova-bound center Mouphtaou Yarou (27 points) and Terrence Ross (24 points) teamed for 51 points as the Mustangs topped Jeb Stuart (Falls Church, Va.), 60-47. The Mustangs used a 23-14 third quarter showing to pull away while Yarou and Ross combined to sink 17 of 23 free throws. This week's games are St. John's Catholic (Frederick, Md.) Tuesday and Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) at Saturday's Prime Time Shootout in Trenton, N.J.
10 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 21-1 11 The Spartans' incredible zone defense limited three opponents to a total of 86 points last week, including a 64-38 win over previous-No. 25 Dominguez (Compton) at the Nike Extravaganza. Senior point guard Brandon Smith was the catalyst with 10 points and 11 assists. They also topped Granada (Livermore), 65-26, and Foothill (Pleasanton), 59-22.
11 Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) 24-1 13 The Cobras are champions of the BCAA Big 8 Tournament for the third straight year after crushing Ely (Pompano Beach), 61-39. Bryan Bynes, the tournament Most Valuable Player, tossed in 17 points and Martavious Irving added 11 points and 10 rebounds in the final.

12 Westchester (Los Angeles) 23-2 10 The Comets fell to No. 13 Fairfax (Los Angeles), 49-42. They are tied with their rivals for first place with a 9-1 record in the Western League play. Coach Ed Azzam's club rebounded to defeat Rainier Beach (Seattle), 75-65, at the Nike Extravaganza.

13 Fairfax (Los Angeles) 21-3 14 The Lions won four games last week, including a 49-42 win over rivals Westchester (Los Angeles). Renardo Sidney, the No. 5-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, scored 26 points and took down 20 rebounds. Sidney came through with a big dunk and made five clutch free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice and tie up the Western League standings. The Lions stopped Whitney Young (Chicago), 64-57, at the Nike Extravaganza. Sidney scored 19 points and USC-commit Solomon Hill added 12 points and 17 rebounds.
14 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 20-3 12 Gonzaga defeated St. Mary's Ryken (Leonardtown), 75-57, and Archbishop Carroll (Washington), 92-76,. The Purple Eagles lost to Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), 46-44. In the loss, Coach Steve Turner's team only made 6-of-17 free throws, including 3-of-11 in the fourth quarter. The Purple Eagles sit atop the Washington Catholic Athletic Association with an 11-2 mark but have three critical games this week, culminating Sunday with Carroll.

15 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 16-0 15 Michigan's top-ranked team added three wins last week, highlighted by an 80-71 victory over Arthur Hill (Saginaw). Donnavan Kirk scored 23 points and Ray McCallum 17, while DaShonte Riley had 14 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots. In other games, DCD defeated St. Mary's (Orchard Lake), 64-39, and Detroit Community, 61-52.
16 Rice (Manhattan, N.Y.) 13-2 16 The Raiders stopped St. Raymond (Bronx), 60-42. Miami-bound guard Durand Scott popped in 15 of his 19 points after halftime. Coach Moe Hicks' club plays four times this week, starting Tuesday with Archbishop Molloy (Briarwood), as the regular season winds down.
17 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 19-3 18 The Stags are leaping over the competition again, sweeping a trio of conference opponents despite playing without junior guard Josh Selby. In a 68-63 victory over Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), senior Marcus Rouse pumped in a season-high 20 points and Texas A&M-bound forward Naji Hibbert added 18. Selby, who is out for unspecified reasons, is still a member of the team says Coach Mike Jones.
18 Olympia (Orlando) 22-3 19 The Titans closed out the regular season, defeating Cypress Creek (Orlando), 61-52, and Bartow, 72-55. Next up is the District 5-6A tournament, with rivals Dr. Phillips (Orlando) considered the main threat.
19 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) 17-0 20 The Royals flexed their in-state muscles with a convincing 100-78 rout of previously-unbeaten Cooper (New Hope, Minn.). Royce White, a Minnesota recruit, scored 21 points while teammate Trent Lockett scored a game-high 23 points. In another win, they dominated Edina, 90-53.
20 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 18-3 17 No one said life in the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association AA division is easy. The Royals defeated Archbishop Molloy (Briarwood), 84-69, as 6-foot-7 junior Dominyka Milka recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Sean Johnson netted 30 points. They lost to Xaverian (Brooklyn), 46-44.
21 Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.) 15-0 21 Indiana's top-ranked Class 4A team continued to dominate in-state foes with a74-45 romp of Columbus North. South's first major test is expected on Feb. 21 against No. 15 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.).
22 Centennial (Roswell, Ga.) 20-2 22 The Knights beat Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.), 74-70, and Alpharetta, 100-69. Lorenzo Brown, 6-foot-5 guard, totaled 49 points in two games. The Knights play two Region 6B-AAAAA games this week before closing out the regular season at No. 23 Christ School (Arden, N.C.) on Saturday.

23 Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 28-2 23 Dee Giger flipped in 14 points to lead the Greenies over Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School, 63-37. This week the Greenies have home games against Greensboro Day on Friday and No. 22 Centennial (Roswell, Ga.) on Saturday.
24 Thornton (Harvey, Ill.) 20-1 24 The Wildcats were idle but their 20-game streak on the line this weekend against Thornton Fractional South(Lansing, Ill.) and Bloom (Chicago Heights).
25 Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) 20-0 26 The Bruins stopped Jefferson City, 66-29, and Raytown (Mo.) South, 79-65. Games this week include Springfield Central on Tuesday and Kansas City (Mo.) Central on Friday.

Rank Team Record Previous
26 Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.) 18-0 27
27 Holmes (Covington, Ky.) 23-1 28
28 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) 20-2 29
29 Northland (Columbus, Ohio) 16-1 30
30 Norcross (Ga.) 22-1 32
31 McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) 21-1 33
32 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) 20-5 25
33 South Atlanta (Atlanta) 20-3 34
34 Plano West (Plano, Texas) 25-2 35
35 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga,) 16-6 37
36 Petersburg (Va.) 19-0 38
37 Lawrence North (Indianapolis) 16-2 39
38 Pershing (Detroit) 14-1 40
39 Fayetteville (Ark.) 20-0 41
40 Lake Clifton (Baltimore) 19-0 42
41 Atlantic Shores Christian (Chesapeake, Va.) 24-1 46
42 Provo (Utah) 17-0 47
43 Bellevue (Wash.) 17-1 NR
44 Princeton (Cincinnati) 14-1 43
45 Franklin (Seattle) 17-1 31
46 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) 17-3 45
47 Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.) 27-0 49
48 Butler (Huntsville, Ala.) 27-3 50
49 Yates (Houston) 23-1 NR
50 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 20-3 NR

Dropped out: No. 36 Chester (Pa.); No. 44 Hall (Little Rock, Ark.); and No. 48 Cedar Hill (Texas).