It all falls together so neatly – at least so far.
Brea Olinda won the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix by knocking off Long Beach Poly in the finals, the Ladycats' second win over the Jackrabbits (both after trailing by eight in the first half).
Poly got to the finals by "upsetting" previous No. 1 Mater Dei, and Brea advanced by getting past previous No. 2 Bolingbrook in double overtime. Then Mater Dei beat Bolingbrook in the third-place game, and it makes wonderful sense.
Of course, the three Southern California teams at the top of the rankings will be on a collision course in the Southern Section playoffs and it's pretty much a guarantee that two of those teams will play again. And then, given the somewhat goofy nature of California's postseason, all three will most likely advance into the Southern California regionals, and go at it one more time.
In the end, it will likely be the same kind of confusion that marred the final rankings last year, when Mater Dei had beaten Brea, which had lost to St. Mary's of California, which had beaten Mater Dei. Mater Dei wound up No. 1 - at least in some rankings (not the Xcellent 25) - because the Monarchs won the last game among the trio, and though Brea looks good right now, it's only December. The games that really matter won't be played until February – at least for this group.
For some others, though, the monster games have already occurred. For example, Konawaena of Hawaii is 18-1 and is expected to dominate its in-state competition – so the Wildcats' national rankings were pretty much determined by how things went in the Iolani tournament. Since Konawaena got past previous No. 21 Incarnate Word before losing to No. 1 Brea, it's clear the Wildcats are pretty good – and so the Wildcats slide in at No. 16. Now, however, Konawaena is playing not to lose, because any upset to an un-ranked team in Hawaii would probably knock them right out of the rankings.
Another major tournament just wrapped up this week, and by winning the Crescent Bank Classic in South Carolina, Spring Valley vaulted to No. 5. Why the huge jump? Previous No. 5 Norcross of Georgia was there, and lost to Troy of California, which also beat previous No. 24 Goose Creek of South Carolina. When Spring Valley, which was on the cusp of the rankings in preseason, got past Troy in the finals, Troy's big wins suddenly came into play for Spring Valley, and the Vikings jump into the top ten.
Whitney Young of Chicago suffered a reverse fate. The Dolphins have lost only to Memphis Central, but when the previous No. 7 went 1-3 at the Nike TOC, that dropped the Warriors out of the Xcellent 25 –- and since Whitney Young has to be behind Memphis Central until the Dolphins knock off a ranked team, they're gone too.Xcellent 25 High School Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (3) Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
2. (5) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
3. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
4. (2) Bolingbrook (Ill.)
5. (nr) Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.)
6. (4) Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)
7. (8) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
8 (9) Neptune (N.J.)
9. (nr) St. John's (Washington, District of Columbia)
10. (11) Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)
11. (13) Buford (Ga.)
12. (14) St. Joseph's Academy (St. Louis, Mo.)
13. (15) Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.)
14. Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
15. (nr) Westbury Christian (Houston, Texas)
16. (nr) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii)
17. (18) Midwest City (Okla.)
18. (nr) Troy (Fullerton, Calif.)
19. (20) Start (Toledo, Ohio)
20. (23) North Little Rock (Ark.)
21. (5) Norcross (Ga.)
22. (nr) Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)
23. (21) Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.)
24. (nr) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
25. (24) Goose Creek (S.C.)
8-1 Dropped out:
No. 7 Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.); No. 10 St. Mary's (Phoenix, Ariz.); No. 12 Whitney Young (Chicago); No. 14 La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.); No. 17 Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.); No. 19 Lake Mary (Lake Mary, Fla.); No. 22 Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.); No. 25 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.). Stay tuned for Nike TOC wrap-up in the next 24 hours. Also the MaxPreps/Freeman computer rankings are out.