A pair of previously-unranked teams were the biggest statement makers in this week’s Xcellent 25 presented by the Army National Guard.
Behind the play of tournament MVP and Duke signee Tyler Thornton, Gonzaga of Washington, D.C., got past then-No. 13 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) in the finals of the Gonzaga D.C. Classic on Saturday night, 62-59. The Eagles make their Xcellent 25 debut at No. 20.
In Illinois, defending 4A state champion Whitney Young was impressive in a 67-46 mauling of Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) at the Best of the Midwest Shootout in Marion. That came one night after Columbia defeated nationally-ranked Waukegan at the same event. Whitney Young beat Waukegan in last year’s title game and one-up the Bulldogs once again by taking their spot in this week’s Xcellent 25.
Xcellent 25 National High School Boys Basketball Rankings
1. (1 last week) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 11-0
Seniors Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph led the way for the Pilots in their only game of the week, a 65-52 victory over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman on Saturday night. Thompson scored 19 points and grabbed eight boards while Joseph added 18 points. Findlay Prep led by as many as 23 points against Bishop Gorman – a program that will be favored to repeat as Nevada’s big-school state champ this season.
2. (2) St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), 0-0
The Celtics open the season Dec. 18 against Linden.
3. (3) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 12-0
Head coach Steve Smith’s Warriors met little resistance this week in wins over Carolina Forest (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), Gaston Day (Gastonia, N.C.) and an Australian touring team. Oak Hill hit the century mark for the sixth time this season against Carolina Forest as Roscoe Smith went for 21 points and 13 rebounds.
4. (4) Yates (Houston, Texas), 5-0
Despite an 88-76 loss, congratulations to Katy Seven Lakes on becoming the first team to hold Yates under 100 points this season. Make that the first team to hold Yates to under 140 points this season. The Lions got back to their dominating ways Friday night with a 131-62 victory over yet another Australian tourning team. Senior guard Brandon Peters led the way against the Aussies with 27 points. Yates is averaging 134.4 points per game.
5. (5) Northland (Columbus, Ohio), 0-0
The Vikings open the season Dec. 15 vs. Brookhaven.
6. (6) Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.), 4-0
The Panthers improved to 4-0 with wins over Indianapolis Southport (72-43) and Terre Haute North (54-42). Bloomington South’s big guns (Matt Carlino, Dee Davis, Erik Fromm, Spencer Turner) are performing up to expectations and head coach J.R. Holmes has found another weapon to bring in off the bench in 6-5, 235-pound junior Desmond Marks.
7. (7) Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.), 4-0
The Comets did not play last week but return to the court tonight (Monday) against Los Angeles LACES.
8. (8) DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 6-0
The Stags stayed perfect with three wins, including an impressive 70-47 thumping of Benedictine (Richmond, Va.) on Saturday night at the National High School Hoops Festival held in Upper Marlboro, Md. Junior guard Quinn Cook led the way against Benedictine with 20 points.
9. (9) Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), 3-0
Maryland verbal commitment Terrence Ross poured in 32 points Saturday night at the aforementioned National High School Hoops Festival as Montrose Christian cruised past St. Mary’s Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.), 74-59. Stu Vetter’s squad tuned up for the showcase event with easy wins over Liberty (Bedford, Va.) and Roosevelt (Washington, D.C.).
10. (10) Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.), 7-0
The young Eagles had a big weekend with wins over Marietta Pope on Friday and Norcross at the Greater Atlanta Christian Showcase on Saturday. Junior post Julian Royal scored 20 points to lead Milton to a 71-67 over Norcross, who entered the game ranked No. 3 in Georgia’s Class AAAAA. Milton’s next contest comes Sept. 19 in opening round action at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
11. (11) Melrose (Memphis, Tenn.), 10-0
Melrose is on a respect mission and a pair of fellow Memphis schools paid the price last week. The Golden Wildcats trounced Middle College 106-40 on Monday and followed with a Friday night thrashing of Carver, 89-34.
12. (12) White Station (Memphis, Tenn.), 5-0
Joe Jackson poured in 31 points and Andre Hollins added 26 to help the Spartans get past Warren Central (Bowling Green, Ky.), 86-71, Saturday at the Kentucky vs. Tennessee Challenge. White Station had things in hand at the half with a 51-32 advantage.
13. (14) St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.), 0-0
The Gray Bees open the season Dec. 12 vs. Upper Room Christian (Dix Hills, N.Y.).
14. (15) Ames (Iowa), 3-0
Harrison Barnes and company rolled to a 70-38 win over Waukee in the Little Cyclones only action of the week. Barnes and senior forward Doug McDermott each scored 20 points. Ames’ next contest is an ESPN-televised showdown with Waukegan (Ill.) on Dec. 17.
15. (16) Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.), 3-1
The Toreadors did not play this week after a loss to No. 7 Westchester. Taft returns to action Dec. 18 against Eldorado (Las Vegas, Nev.).
16. (17) Penn Wood (Lansdowne, Pa.), 0-0
The Patriots open the season Dec. 15 against Bensalem Holy Ghost Prep.
17. (19) Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 7-0
The Panthers captured the A-Rod Basketball Classic, defeating Fort Lauderdale University 72-56 in the final behind 27 points from star guard Brandon Knight. Pine Crest reached the finals with wins over Miami Palmetto (93-66) and Miami Monsignor Pace (61-46).
18. (20) Christ School (Arden, N.C.), 9-1
The Greenies have bounced back nicely from a disappointing loss to No. 1 Findlay Prep last week at the Marshall County Hoopfest. Christ School drilled Rabun Gap (Ga.) by 13 points and Asheville School (N.C.) by 35 to stay perfect on the week. The Greenies hit 12 3-pointers against Rabun Gap.
19. (21) Paterson Catholic (Paterson, N.J.), 0-0
The Cougars open the season Dec. 18 at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
20. (NR) Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), 6-0
Duke signee Tyler Thornton earned MVP honors as Gonzaga captured its own tournament with a 62-59 win over then-No. 13 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) in the finals. Thornton and backcourt mate Cedrick Lindsay dominated the event, combining for 106 points in three games. The Eagles also got big contributions from senior forward Malcolm Lemmons, freshman forward Kris Jenkins and junior guard Cahli Thomas. The Iolani Classic in Hawaii is up next for Gonzaga.
21. (24) Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), 3-0
The defense looks solid for the Yellowjackets as they allowed just 39.3 points per game in three wins last week. The most impressive came Saturday in the Walt Keener Classic against Melvindale Academy for Business. Senior guard Ray McCallum went for 25 points and six assists in a 66-51 win. Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Madison Memorial (Madison, Wis.) and Lew Wallace (Gary, Ind.) all have dates lined up with DCD in the next two weeks.
22. (25) Rice (New York), 1-0
Kansas State signee Shane Southwell notched 13 points and nine boards to get Rice off on the right track Friday night with a 56-47 win over All Hallows. The Raiders are back in action Wednesday against St. Francis Prep.
23. (13) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 6-1
Despite the loss to Gonzaga, Mater Dei hangs in this week. The Monarchs have a decent chance of running the table until Jan. 18 when they meet DeMatha at the Hoophall Classic and have to be given credit for going across the country for a big challenge this early in the season.
24. (NR) Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.), 2-0
The Dolphins notched a statement win Saturday over Columbia (Decatur, Ga.), 67-46, at the Best of the Midwest Shootout in Marion, Ill. Just a night after Columbia knocked off then-No. 23 Waukegan, Ahmad Starks and Anthony Johnson combined for 30 points to push Whitney Young past the talented Georgia squad with ease. A showdown with Chicago Simeon and the tradition-rich Proviso West Tournament are on the immediate calendar for head coach Tyrone Slaughter’s club.
25. (NR) Jefferson (Portland, Ore.), 3-0
The Democrats haven’t truly been tested through three games, averaging nearly 80 points per outing and holding opponents to under 55. Things get tougher Friday and Saturday at the West Coast Christmas Championships in Portland as Jefferson will meet strong California programs in Oakland Castlemont and Long Beach Poly.
Dropped out: No. 18 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), No. 22 Madison Memorial (Madison, Wis.), No. 23 Waukegan (Ill.)
Other schools appearing in the Xcellent 25 this season: Holmes (Covington, Ky.), preseason; Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.), preseason; Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), preseason