The debate for No. 1 in high school basketball raged on at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield,
Mass., as each of the top two teams in the nation picked up signature victories
in impressive fashion to remain unbeaten. Both No. 1 La Lumiere (La
Porte, Ind.) and No. 2 McEachern (Powder Spring, Ga.) made their case
for the top spot in the rankings as each team controlled their talented
opposition wire-to-wire at Blake Arena.
Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is always a defining time in the high school basketball season, with major events shaping the Top 25 rankings. The most highly anticipated showcase of the high school basketball season also highlights the weekend as the Spalding Hoophall Classic takes center stage.
The top matchups of the Hoophall Classic are typically reserved for Martin Luther King Day on a day referred to as "Monster Monday." This year, Monday featured five matchups between Top 25 opponents, culminating with two games between Top 10 foes.
Read on for a deeper look into each of the "Monster Monday" showdowns between Top 25 foes:
The Matadors —
who averaged 81 points per game entering Monday's showdown —
were held to their lowest scoring output since a 60-42 loss to Sunnyslope (Phoenix)
all the way back on Feb. 9, 2013.
The low-scoring output wasn't the only obstacle the three-time defending state champions were forced to overcome, as an early (7 a.m. in Arizona) start time forced the talented group to play much earlier than they are accustomed. In addition, Shadow Mountain was playing its fourth game in five days and its third ranked opponent during that span as well.
Shadow Mountain overcame every hurdle, winning the battle between two of the top backcourt's in the nation behind a balanced effort led by 2019 Arizona State signee Jaelen House
, who finished with 14 points to lead all scorers and win game MVP honors.
Scottie Lewis powered Ranney as the Florida signee finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals while holding Federal Way's 5-star prospect Jaden McDaniels
to just 10 points on an inefficient 4-of-19 night from the field.
Trailing 26-16 late in the second quarter, Bryan Antoine
and Lewis flipped the switch. The elite 5-star duo combined for 49 points, leading the Panthers on a 27-6 run spanning the second and third quarter to take control of the game. Antoine did most of his damage early with 14 first-half points and 23 points for the game, while Lewis took over down the stretch with 20 second-half points to bring home the victory.
The Garden State power showed a new dynamic in Springfield as the addition of transfer 2020 Phillip Wheeler
has added athleticism, length and a true post presence to the Ranney lineup. Wheeler chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers, fitting into the rotation seamlessly despite having to sit out the first 30 days of the season due to New Jersey transfer rules.
The Indians made a strong case for a return to the No. 1 ranking, capping off their Bass Pro Tournament of Champions crown with a signature victory over the Eagles on Monday. It was the fourth win in a five-day span for McEachern, which features a rotation centered around just five players with a sixth playing sparingly when needed.
Once again the Peach State contender was led by its junior catalyst Sharife Cooper
, who finished with 27 points, making his final five field goals of the game to seal to deal. Cooper continues to dominate during his junior campaign that has already seen him win MVP's of both the City of Palms Classic and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions. The 5-star point guard appears to be the leader in the clubhouse at this point in the season for MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors as he continues to deliver in the biggest moments for the undefeated Indians.
The Eagles were the one of the most impressive teams of the Spalding Hoophall Classic, picking up a dominant win in a rematch of an 'Iolani Classic contest where Montverde also emerged victorious 57-49. Unlike their back-and-forth game in Hawaii, the Sunshine State powerhouse was dominant from start to finish, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead and never trailing the defending CIF Open Division champions.
The defending GEICO Nationals champions showed why they are serious contenders to repeat despite falling twice to La Lumiere already this season. Montverde Academy appears to be getting better each game as its deep and talented roster continues to develop chemistry as the season progresses. The thing that makes the Eagles so difficult to beat is their ability to get production from so many different players.
One of the most underrated players in the senior class, Harlond Beverly,
continued his impressive senior season with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead the way offensively, while Florida State commit Balsa Koprivica
controlled the paint with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the big win. 5-star junior Cade Cunningham
also chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
For Sierra Canyon, Cassius Stanley
put on a show despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the contest, finishing with 25 points and nine rebounds while going 8-of-10 from the field.
The Lakers made another major statement over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, as they trailed for just 15 seconds in the first quarter before taking a 4-2 lead and never looking back. La Lumiere was led by a balanced effort spearheaded by an excellent showing from 5-star Keion Brooks,
who finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Under the radar 2020 point guard Wendell Green Jr.
also put on a show at the "Birthplace of Basketball" —
finishing with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists while connecting on 4 of his 5 3-point attempts.
In their second season under head coach Pat Holmes, it appears chemistry is at an all-time high for this group as each player understands his role on a team led by a pair of 5-star big men. Recent Washington commit Isaiah Stewart
has been a consistent producer in the paint, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game on the season and producing 14 points and 12 rebounds in the signature victory against DeMatha. The 6-foot-9 center outplayed his counterpart, despite giving up a solid four inches to the 7-1 5-star center Hunter Dickinson
. He held Dickinson to just four points and out-rebounded the Stags big man by five boards.