Commentary

The battle for No. 1: 15-0 vs. 1-0?

Updated: December 24, 2009, 2:52 PM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

In light of Findlay Prep's loss to Northland (Columbus, Ohio) on Dec. 17, and as the major pre-Christmas tourneys come to a close, who's in line to snag the No. 1 spot when the ESPN RISE FAB 50 is updated the week of Jan. 4?

Irving/Gilchrist
Steve Boyle\ESPN RISE MagazineHigh-scoring teammates Kyrie Irving (left) and Michael Gilchrist have St. Patrick poised to make a run at No. 1.

It's an interesting situation, considering No. 2 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) had played only one game because of inclement weather that recently struck the Eastern seaboard, whereas No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) was well on its way to its 20th game of the season.

The Fightin' Irish opened their season Dec. 21 with a 77-56 victory over Life Center (Burlington, N.J.), as Duke-bound guard Kyrie Irving went for 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Hill moved to 15-0 the next night with a 68-47 victory over Princeton (Cincinnati, Ohio) at the Ironton Basketball Classic, as Doron Lamb and Roscoe Smith combined for 35 points.

Oak Hill will participate at the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Ore., where No. 23 Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) and regionally ranked Rainier Beach (Seattle, Wash.) will compete with Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) for a probable crack at the Warriors in the Dec. 30 title game.

Despite its two losses, No. 6 Westchester (2-2) owns a victory over No. 21 Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.), so the Toreadors will be hard pressed to hop the Comets in the next rankings -- provided they do not win the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in San Diego (Dec. 26-30). St. Patrick will be there, as well, and could seal the No. 1 spot with a tournament victory. A matchup between Texas-bound DeAndre Daniels of Taft and Michael Gilchrist of St. Patrick, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU Super 60, would be worth the price of admission alone.

If Oak Hill loses in Oregon, the No. 1 race could open up further because No. 4 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) and No. 5 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) already have lost, the latter in the semifinals of the Iolani Classic. That Hawaii-based tournament was won by No. 9 Yates (Houston, Texas).

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