Three NJ Teams In Nation's Top 10

In this week's National Top 25, former No. 15 <b>Mater Dei</b> and former No. 23 <b>Neumann-Goretti (Pa.)</b> both dropped out of the rankings after suffering defeats. New No. 18 <b>Brother Martin (La.)</b> and new No. 25 <b>Bishop O'Connell (Va.)</b> both enter the rankings after winning season-ending tournaments. Meanwhile, No. 1 <b>Lanier (Miss.)</b> finishes the year as the top ranked team in the National Top 25.

Rankings as of March 21, 2005

1. Lanier (Jackson, Miss.) – (35-2) *4
Lanier defeated Jim Hill, 69-46, in the Class 4A state championship. Senior guard Monta Ellis scored 29 points in the win, which gave Lanier its sixth state title in the past 13 years. Lanier was scheduled to play Class 3A state champ Holly Springs in the Dream Game II, but according to the Clarion Ledger, Holly Springs School District superintendent Judy Carter Smith "called off the game because Holly Springs coach Naylond Hayes didn't get his team's participation approved by high school principal Dorsey Patterson and athletic director Roosevelt Hodges per district policy." Lanier ended the season with a 26-game winning streak, which included a win over nationally ranked South Gwinnett (Ga.), and showed they deserved the title as the nation's No. 1 team.

2. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) – (34-2) *5
Oak Hill Academy won the Champions Basketball Classic in Boone, N.C. with a 99-53 win over Our Savior New American (N.Y.). Junior guard Tywon Lawson led Oak Hill with 32 points and added six assists. Meanwhile, junior forward Kevin Durant had 20 points and seven rebounds and senior guard Jamont Gordon recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

3. Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) – (28-1) *4
The Wolverines defeated John F. Kennedy (Bronx), 92-60, in the state Federation Class AA semifinals and followed that up with a 68-65 win over then-No. 12 Xaverian in the championship. Junior guard Paul Harris was named MVP after he had 17 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in the win over Xaverian. Senior guard Robert Garrison added a game-high 20 points in the victory, which made Niagara Falls the first Western New York team to win a Federation title in the state's highest classification.

4. Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.) – (28-3) *5
Arlington Country Day beat Tallahassee Maclay, 55-33, in the Class 2A state title game. Senior forward and George Mason recruit Sammy Hernandez was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 16 points in the title game.

5. Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) – (25-3) *6
Westchester defeated Junipero Serra, 66-45, in the Division I state championship. Senior center and Louisville recruit Amir Johnson led the Comets with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Senior Ray Reese had 14 points, while seniors Marcus Johnson and Jerard Moret each added 13 points. The win gave Westchester its third state title in four years.

6. Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) – (31-1) *7
Wheeler beat then-No. 13 Norcross, 63-47, in the Class AAAAA state championship. James Florence had a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats and Sharaud Curry stuffed the stat sheet for 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. B.J. Corley chipped in with nine points, 11 boards and three blocks. It was Wheeler's third state title in the past four years and fourth overall.

7. Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) – (23-2) *8
Junior center Greg Oden had 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks and junior point guard Mike Conley added 17 points as Lawrence North defeated Terre Haute South, 71-52, in the Class 4A semistate. The Wildcats will go for their second consecutive state title when they take on Muncie Central in the state championship on March 26.

8. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) – (26-1) *9
Senior guard Eric Moore scored a team-high 16 points to lead St. Benedict's to a 71-61 win over The Peddie School in the Prep A championship game. The win gave St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley his third state title in four years as head coach.

9. St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) – (28-3) *10
Sophomore guard Corey Fisher scored a season-high 23 points to lead St. Patrick to a 76-61 win over Haddonfield in the Tournament of Champions semifinals. St. Patrick will play No. 10 Seton Hall Prep in the final on March 23.

10. Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) – (29-1) *11
Seton Hall Prep defeated Atlantic City, 74-37, in the Tournament of Champions semifinals thanks to a game-high 27 points from senior forward Brandon Costner. Seton Hall takes on No. 9 St. Patrick in the final on March 23.

11. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) – (29-2) *3
The Stags finished the season by losing to new No. 25 Bishop O'Connell (Va.), 54-47, in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational. Still, DeMatha beat O'Connell twice this year, including a win in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. The Stags' only other loss this year was to nationally ranked Westchester (Calif.).

12. Poplar Bluff (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) – (27-4) *13
Senior forward and North Carolina recruit Tyler Hansbrough scored a game-high 29 points and grabbed 16 boards to lead Poplar Bluff to a 72-56 win over No. 24 Vashon in the Class 5 state final. The win gave Poplar Bluff its second straight Class 5 state title and snapped Vashon's winning streak at 60 games.

13. East Hall (Gainesville, Ga.) – (31-1) *14
East Hall defeated Greenville, 99-67, in the Class AA state championship. Junior guard Frank Davis nailed five 3-pointers en route to 27 points for the Vikings, who won their third state title in the past five years.

14. Southeast (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – (27-0) *16
Southeast won its second straight state title by defeating Tulsa Washington, 81-68, in the Class 5A state championship. Senior forward Marchello Vealy led the way with 22 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.

15. Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) – (28-1) *17
Jesuit edged Lake Oswego, 57-53, in the Class 4A state championship. Senior Josh Tarver had a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Jordan Mast added 15. Lake Oswego sophomore forward Kevin Love had 24 points, 23 rebounds and five assists in the loss.

16. Mountain View (Mesa, Ariz.) – (32-1) *18
Mountain View beat Deer Valley, 54-47, in the Class 5A state semifinals, and St. Mary's, 69-53, in the Class 5A state championship. It was the fourth overall state title for the Toros, who received 22 points from junior forward Stephen Rodgers, 18 points from sophomore guard Kendall Wallace and 14 points from sophomore center Harper Kamp. Mountain View has a strong shot at defending its title next season with all three players returning.

17. Kingwood (Humble, Texas) – (37-4) *19
The Mustangs squeaked past DeSoto, 54-52, in the Class 5A state championship. Junior point guard Nic Wise was named game MVP after he had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Both Wise and sophomore forward Mike Singletary were named to the All-Tournament team.

18. Brother Martin (New Orleans, La.) – (39-2) *NR
Brother Martin defeated Thibodaux, 86-70, in the Class 5A state championship. It was the second straight state title for Brother Martin. Junior point guard D.J. Augustin captured tournament MVP honors after he posted 24 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in the win over Thibodaux.

19. Xaverian (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – (20-12) *12
Xaverian lost to new No. 3 Niagara Falls, 68-65, in the state Federation Class AA championship. Senior forward Saiquon Stone scored a game-high 24 points in the loss, while senior guard Levance Fields had 21 points. Xaverian had 12 losses on the year, but victories over nationally ranked teams like St. Mary's, Rice and Christ the King keeps them in the Top 25.

20. St. Mary's (Manhasset, N.Y.) – (25-1) *20
St. Mary's lost to No. 19 Xaverian, 71-69, in the CHSAA Class AA state championship. Senior forward Tyson Johnson scored a game-high 21 points in the loss, while senior guard and North Carolina recruit Danny Green added 16 points and 11 rebounds. The loss wasn't enough to drop St. Mary's from the rankings since the Gaels were undefeated heading into the game while playing a tough schedule that included wins over nationally ranked opponents St. Patrick (N.J.) and Rice.

21. South Oak Cliff (Dallas, Texas) – (32-7) *21
South Oak Cliff cruised past San Antonio Sam Houston, 64-43, to win its first Class 4A state championship since 1992. Junior forward Darrell Arthur had 22 points and 17 rebounds, senior Jerel Hastings chipped in with 17 points and 13 boards and senior Kevin Rogers finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Arthur, who was named game MVP, was selected to the All-Tournament team with Rogers and Hastings.

22. Edmond Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) – (25-4) *22
Edmond Santa Fe defeated then-No. 12 Putnam City in the Class 6A state semifinals and then beat Bartlesville, 40-37, in the state championship. Junior guard Obi Muonelo scored 34 points and hit the game-winner as time expired in the win over Putnam City. Muonelo and junior point guard Chance Hardaker each had 15 points in the victory over Bartlesville.

23. South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) – (28-3) *24
South Gwinnett lost to nationally ranked Wheeler, 84-80, in the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals. South Gwinnett won the state title last year. In the loss to Wheeler, South Gwinnett senior guard and Georgia recruit Louis Williams scored 44 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Fellow senior and Georgia recruit Mike Mercer added 17. Despite the loss, South Gwinnett stays in the National Top 25 because it played a national schedule and defeated national powers such as Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and Arlington Country Day (Fla.).

No. 24 Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.) – (29-1) *25
Vashon lost to No. 12 Poplar Bluff, 72-56, in the Class 5 state final. The loss snapped Vashon's 60-game winning streak. Still, it wasn't enough to knock out the Wolverines, who battled the pressure of a long winning streak and defeated top teams such as nationally ranked Niagara Falls (N.Y.).

No. 25 Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) – (31-3) *NR
Bishop O'Connell lost to No. 11 DeMatha (Md.) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, but got its revenge with a 54-47 win over the Stags in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational. It was the Knights' third straight invitational title. Senior guard Marcus Ginyard scored a game-high 22 points and senior forward Dave Neal added 15 points. Both were named to the All-Tournament first team.

Dropped Out:

No. 15. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) – (31-4) *NR

No. 23 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) – (27-3) *NR

* previous ranking

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