St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
extended the nation's longest high school basketball winning streak to 83 games Tuesday with a 46-37 win over previously unbeaten East Brunswick
. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark)
was supposed to live up to their end of the bargain Wednesday night by beating Blair Academy (Blairstown)
, improving to 19-0 and setting up a battle of unbeatens between Garden State powerhouses both holding on to national championship hopes.
But that didn't happen. The Gray Bees were stunned 54-52 last night by Blair Academy, a talented team with players from five different states, Canada and Zimbabwe.
So all the build up and hype for Friday's St. Anthony-St. Benedict's tilt at the Newark National Invitational is gone now, right?
Maybe not. Last season's matchup was a classic with St. Anthony trailing by six entering the fourth quarter but rallying for a 51-50 victory on New Year's Day. The Friars went on to capture the Xcellent 25 national title and Kyle Anderson earned MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors.
Don't discount St. Benedict's Prep's chances of making history. The Gray Bees hold a slight edge over St. Anthony in the talent department and should be highly motivated to end the streak, avenge last season's letdown and wash away the bitter feeling of Wednesday's loss to Blair Academy.Weekend WatchFive key games likely to impact next week's national rankings*No. 2 St. Benedict's Prep vs. No. 4 St. Anthony:
Did St. Benedict's Prep get caught looking ahead against Blair Academy, or was the loss a sign of vulnerability? Hickman's pick: St. Benedict's PrepNo. 8 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) vs. Westchester (Los Angeles):
Since starting 6-4, Westchester has won 13 of its last 14 contests – including a tournament crown at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic. The Comets would love to signal their return to power in Southern California with a win over host Mater Dei in the Saturday finale of the Nike Extravaganza. Hickman's pick: Mater DeiNo. 10 Long Beach Poly (Calif.) vs. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.):
Poly took one on the chin in its last showcase opportunity at the Spalding Hoophall Classic against No. 3 Whitney Young (Chicago)
. The Jackrabbits would like to put that nightmare behind them with a win at the Nike Extravaganza against talented and battle-tested Bosco. Hickman's pick: Long Beach Poly*No. 9 Greensboro Day (N.C.) vs. Christ School (Arden, N.C.):
Greensboro Day looks to stay unbeaten against a hot Christ School team that has won nine in a row, averaging 86 points per game over that span. Hickman's pick: Greensboro Day*No. 10 Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.):
Like Christ School, ACD also enters the weekend on a roll with eight wins in a row and a suddenly reinforced lineup with guards Isaiah Lewis
and Damontrae Jefferson
. Providence is unbeaten (23-0) and could use a win here to vault into the Xcellent 25. Hickman's pick: Arlington Country Day* Denotes Academy Top 10 RankingOther games of interest
- Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
, Simeon (Chicago)
and White Station (Memphis, Tenn.)
will all be taking on local teams Saturday at the Las Vegas Hoop Fest at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nev.
- In a monster matchup that could help shape California's new Open Division state tournament format, defending Division IV state champion Salesian (Richmond)
takes on 2012 Division I runner-up Sheldon (Sacramento)
. Both teams have tackled daunting schedules this season yet own a combined record of 35-7.
- No. 3 Whitney Young (Chicago)
and Ballard (Louisville, Ky.)
were scheduled to participate in an event against two other teams this weekend. When the event was abruptly canceled Tuesday, they decided to play each other – on Ballard's home floor. Bold move by Whitney Young.