This guy again?: Managing the pressure of a 53-game win streak may be the biggest obstacle remaining for Bob Hurley's top-ranked St. Anthony Friars.
While St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) has provided a near-constant landmark at the top of the Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard over the past two seasons, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) is proof that being a nationally-ranked high school basketball program can be a fleeting experience.
The Eagles were undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the Jan. 22 release of the Xcellent 25. But over the past 14 days, Gonzaga is just 3-4 following a pair of weekend losses to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference foes DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) and Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.).
It should be noted that Gonzaga was without the services of junior point guard Nate Britt (already committed to North Carolina) for a portion of that stretch. Even so, four losses in the span of two weeks is too many to stay in the national rankings.
Meanwhile, the beat goes on for St. Anthony. Legendary head coach Bob Hurley's Friars have won 53 games in a row, beating Academy Top 10 No. 3 Huntington Prep (W.Va.) on Saturday at the PrimeTime Shootout. While Huntington Prep is a relative newcomer to the world of big-time high school basketball, the Express – grossly underrated by most media outlets this winter – feature the nation's top sophomore in Andrew Wiggins and a handful of seniors and juniors that will play at the high-major level in college.
Read on for a complete look at this week's rankings.
Xcellent 25 High School Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (No. 1 last week) St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) (20-0)
The only argument against St. Anthony occupying the No. 1 spot was a somewhat light schedule – at least in comparison to some other nationally-ranked programs. After beating one of the most impressive collections of talent in the country in Huntington Prep on Saturday at the PrimeTime Shootout, that argument has been shelved.
2. (2) Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) (31-2)
How are the Marauders gearing up to defend their Class 5A state title? Apparently cranking out Justin Bieber lip sync videos. Go ahead and click the link, it's a must-see.
3. (3) Milton (Ga.) (21-4)
The Eagles have defeated teams from six states outside of Georgia this season, including state title contenders in Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, New York and Utah.
4. (4) Simeon (Chicago) (23-1)
Playing without two suspended starters and its sixth man Sunday night, Simeon advanced to the semifinals of the Chicago Public League tournament with a 73-62 win over Marshall. The nation's top junior, Jabari Parker, picked up the slack with 33 points and 12 rebounds.
Introductions at Mater Dei are NBA-quality, complete with inflatable lion head, spotlights and video board.
6. (6) Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) (23-3)
The Lions limited Faith Christian (Grapevine) to just 21 points through three quarters in a 51-point Friday victory.
7. (7) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) (24-2)
Chaparral (Temecula) – the one-time home of senior wing Xavier Johnson prior to transferring to Mater Dei – will be the opponent in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoffs on Thursday.
8. (9) Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.) (26-1)
After a triumphant weekend, the Roadrunners are the top dog in Memphis. Friday, Ridgeway avenged its only loss of the season with a 68-56 win over then-No. 8 Southwind. Saturday, head coach Wes Henning's squad topped Melrose 83-79 for the MIAA Class AAA city title.
9. (10) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) (23-4)
The Gaels are 16-0 against NIAA (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) opponents this season, winning by an average of 31.6 points per game.
10. (11) Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) (25-4)
Star junior Julius Randle piled up 46 points and senior Kansas signee Zach Peters added 21 as PCA smashed Bishop Lynch (Dallas) on Tuesday 108-55.
11. (12) Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) (15-0)
Perry Ellis, another Kansas signee, piled up 37 points and 14 rebounds as the Falcons flew past Northwest (Wichita) 83-61 on Friday night. The win helped Heights equal the all-time record in Kansas for consecutive wins at 59.
12. (13) Olympic (Charlotte, N.C.) (24-0)
Allerik Freeman poured in 29 points to help the Trojans close out the regular season unbeaten with an 82-72 win over Charlotte Catholic. Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard pegged as one of the nation's top Class of 2013 recruits, leads Olympic in scoring this season at 18 points per game.
13. (14) Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) (23-1)
After holding a pair of opponents under 30 points last week, the Eagles are allowing just 39.8 points per game during the 2012 calendar year.
14. (15) Proviso East (Maywood, Ill.) (21-0)
The Pirates have had only two games decided by single digits all season. In Illinois' massive state tournament bracket, a Proviso East-Simeon matchup might be a long shot but the two nationally-ranked Land of Lincoln squads to play in back-to-back games at next Saturday's City-Suburban Showdown.
15. (8) Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) (25-3)
It's likely that Southwind will get another crack at Ridgeway at some point in Tennessee's Class AAA playoffs.
16. (17) Dunbar (Dayton, Ohio) (19-0)
Freshman point guard Amos "A.J." Harris earned Player of the Week honors for the Wolverines after posting 14 points and 13 assists in a win over Stivers School for the Arts (Dayton) and 15 points and 11 assists in another victory over Buchtel (Akron). The highly-touted rookie is averaging 8 points and 8.6 assists per game this season.
17. (18) Pershing (Detroit) (17-0)
After beating Douglass (Detroit) behind 26 points and 10 rebounds from Sherron Dorsey-Walker, the Doughboys will take on Southeastern in the Detroit Public School League semifinals on Tuesday.
18. (19) Long Beach Poly (Calif.) (23-1)
The Jackrabbits open CIF Southern Section Division I-AA play Thursday against King (Riverside).
19. (20) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) (23-2)
The Panthers continue to get it done in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play, beating then-No. 23 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) 85-83 in overtime Sunday night behind 33 points from senior forward Coleman Johnson.
20. (21) Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) (25-2)
After dominating Coconut Creek and Northeast (Oakland Park) en route to the District 15 Class 7A title, the Tigers open state tournament play Wednesday against McArthur (Hollywood).
24. (NR) St. Augustine (New Orleans) (31-2)
Louisiana's defending Class 5A champions haven't lost since Dec. 29 and ironically replace the team that beat them (Lone Peak, Utah) in the Xcellent 25.
25. (NR) Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) (17-2)
Led by All-American candidate and Michigan State signee Gary Harris (22.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.2 steals per game), the Royals have won 12 games in a row.
Whitney Young (Chicago) is loaded with talent: Okafor, Paul White and Thomas Hamilton being 6'11, 6'9, 6'9. But they have underperformed and I'm not suprised they have fallen out of anyones top 25.
Proviso East is a suprise team in Illinois from the West Suburbs of Chicago. Everyone knew they would be good. Noone knew they would be THIS good. A big name would be Sterling Brown (younger brother of Shannon Brown). They are just really physical tough team from top to bottom and they finally are shooting well compared to the last 2 years. (They have a few 3 yr starters).