Is MaxPreps.com's Xcellent 25 national title already spoken for? Not just yet, but current No. 1
Lone Peak (Highland, Utah)
is four wins away from wrapping it up.
The Knights begin Class 5A state tournament play Monday against either Taylorsville
or West (Salt Lake City)
and must win four games in six days to capture their third title in a row and fifth in six years.
In other words, we may – unofficially – know the identity of the 2012-13 national champ in 10 days.
Here is our breakdown of the national championship picture as most teams around the country step into postseason play:In control: Lone Peak
The Knights are 22-1 and have been ranked No. 1 for four weeks. Head coach Quincy Lewis' squad owns a 6-1 record against teams that have been ranked nationally by MaxPreps at some point in the season.
Among the biggest statements for Lone Peak include an 84-46 thrashing of 22-3 Proviso East (Maywood, Ill.)
in December, ending Chester's (Pa.)
61-game win streak at the City of Palms Classic and an 81-46 spanking of defending California Division II state champ Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
at the Spalding Hoophall Classic last month.
The Knights have wins over teams from nine states on their resume. The lone loss came in the final of the prestigious City of Palms Classic to Montverde Academy (Fla.)
– a team not eligible for Xcellent 25 consideration (currently ranked No. 4 in Academy Top 10).
Lending credence to the notion that Lone Peak may already have things wrapped up is its dominance against in-state competition. The Knights have won 20 in a row dating back to last season against Utah opponents and is beating Beehive State foes by an average of 29.7 points per game this winter. Just two of 14 Utah opponents have kept the final margin under 20 points – and those were both 19-point spreads at the buzzer.What if Lone Peak slips?Teams with a chance to finish the season No. 1 should the Knights fall in Utah's 5A state tournament.Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.):
Head coach Douglas Mitchell's squad is 29-0 after dispatching Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)
78-58 in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section 4AA tournament. Though the Knights began the
season unranked and haven't played quite the splashy schedule other contenders have, they have demonstrated very little vulnerability this season with just three wins decided by 10 points or less.
, Price (Los Angeles)
, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach)
, Seattle Prep
, Serra (Gardena)
, St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
and Westchester (Los Angeles)
are all impressive wins on Bishop Montgomery's resume.Germantown (Wis.):
Why aren't the Warhawks being taken seriously by other media outlets? Difficult to say. They have won 50 games in a row heading into Wisconsin's Division 1 state tournament, which begins with a regional contest against South (Waukesha)
on Friday. Germantown is led by three future Division I players in Indiana-bound big man Luke Fischer
and junior guards Jake Showalter
and Lamonte Bearden
. The Warhawks are winning by an average margin of over 35 points per game and have won nine games by 40 points or more.Lake Oswego (Ore.):
Here's another program that the national media has been slow to warm up to. Even with St. Mary's-bound star Calvin Hermanson
on the roster, not much is known about the Lakers outside the Pacific Northwest. They beat Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia)
and local rival Jesuit (Portland)
by 19 en route the Les Schwab Invitational title in December, becoming the first Oregon team to win the tournament event since 2003. National No. 20 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
also participated in that event. Lake Oswego has been stingy on the defensive end this season, limiting opponents to 42.7 points per game. Lakeridge (Lake Oswego)
managed just 26 in the season finale Tuesday night.Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.):
Though the Monarchs are staring up at four teams, their daunting postseason gives them the most upside. Mater Dei may have to face No. 9 Long Beach Poly
in the section final and presumably ends up in the CIF's new open division state format, which aims to gather up to 16 of California's top teams – regardless of classification – in a winner-take-all tournament.St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.):
A lot of pieces would have to fall into place for the Friars to earn their third national title in a row. A three-peat just doesn't seem to be in the works. That shouldn't take away from the incredible run Bob Hurley's program has been on the last three years. St. Antony is 87-1 since an upset loss to Trenton Catholic
in the 2010 Non Public-B group final.DeSoto (Texas):
Don't sleep on the Eagles. They have a significant out-of-state resume with wins over Hampton (Va.)
, Kinston (N.C.)
, Simeon (Chicago)
and St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.)
. Winning the Texas Class 5A state title is one of the toughest tasks in high school basketball. Fellow 5A contenders Duncanville
, Fort Bend Travis (Richmond)
, Hebron (Carrollton)
and South Grand Prairie
have all been nationally ranked at some point this season. As many as a half-dozen other teams could make a serious run in the 128-team tournament.