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.
So, it comes down to the final weekend, when six teams from the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings will participate in the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational for three days, starting Friday.
If the top two seeds, No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), advance to Sunday's final, it would be the first time in memory in which the top ranking would be on the line in the season's final game.
The story lines are compelling and the games will likely deliver oodles of drama. But don't think it's a two-team tournament. No. 5 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) and No. 8 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) are talented squads in the top 10. The most exciting game of the first round should be St. Benedict's and No. 24 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore). SFA, the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA Conference A champions, is capable of stirring up the field.
All eight teams need to shake off the rust after not playing for at least four weeks -- and some have not played in more than six weeks.
Undoubtedly, the NHSI will alter the final FAB 50 rankings when they are released next week.
Last weekend, four schools took home hardware from their state tournaments. Kudos to No. 9 Bloomington (Ind.) South which completed a perfect season (26-0) and annexed its first state title (Class 4A). Ditto for No. 12 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) which rules Minnesota's Class 4A with an unblemished record of 31-0.
Also winning large classification titles in their respective states are No. 20 Pershing (Detroit) in Michigan's Class A and No. 21 Northland (Columbus, Ohio) in Ohio's Division I.
Game ball: Keith Appling of No. 20 Pershing (Detroit) put on a record-setting performance, earning him ESPN RISE player of the week honors. Appling, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, set a state final scoring record with 49 points to lead the Doughboys to a 90-73 victory over Kalamazoo Central in the Michigan Class A final. Appling was 17-of- 24 from the floor, including 5-of- 7 on 3-point goals and converted 10 of 12 free throws. He also had a team-high five assists plus seven rebounds. Appling broke the previous standard of 47 points, set in 1983 by Antoine Joubert of Southwestern (Detroit) during an 84-80 loss to Flint Central in the Class A final.
Games of the week: Now that the state tournaments are over, it's time for the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational to take center stage. The inaugural eight-team tournament, with six FAB 50 teams, tips off Friday at Georgetown Prep's Hanley Center in North Bethesda, Md.
Here's the lineup (all games televised on ESPNU): No. 1 Oak Hill Academy-Pinewood Prep (Summerville, S.C.), 2 p.m. ET; No. 5 St. Benedict's-No. 24 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), 4 p.m.; No. 2 Findlay Prep-Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.), 6 .p.m.; and No. 8 Montrose Christian-No. 37 Friends Central (Wynnewood, Pa.), 8 p.m.
The semifinals are Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on ESPN2. The final is Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
Updates: Here's a closer look at the Midwest regional teams: For the second straight year, Powers Catholic (Flint, Mich.) eliminated nationally-ranked Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) from Michigan's Class B tournament, but this time it completed the task, winning the state title. Sophomore Patrick Lucas-Perry scored 25 points, leading Powers to a 62-54 win over previously-unbeaten Zeeland East in the title game. Powers, which lost by 54-53 in last season's B final to Lansing Catholic Central, ousted top-seeded DCD, 85-81, as Lucas-Perry scored 29. DCD junior guard Ray McCallum scored 30 points. Princeton (Cincinnati), No. 11 in the Midwest, fell to No. 21 Northland (Columbus, Ohio), 60-58 in the Division I final. Junior Jordan Sibert, an Ohio State recruit, scored 21 and Orlando Williams, a Miami of Ohio signee, had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Snider (Fort Wayne, Ind.), No. 14 in the Midwest, is the Class 4A runner-up following a 69-62 loss to No. 9 Bloomington South. Bradley Sneary, a 6-6 senior, led the way with 22 points and 14 rebounds. … Osseo (Minn.) finished with a 29-3 record after bowing to No. 12Hopkins (Minnetonka), 69-59, in Minnesota's Class 4A final. John Rowland scored 17 points, including five 3-pointers, and Sam Dower recorded a double-double, with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Records are through March 29.
Dropped out: No. 16 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.); No. 36 Princeton (Cincinnati); No. 38 Jamesville-Dewitt (Dewitt, N.Y.).