Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland ended with highest national ranking ever for a NorCal team. Mater Dei, Bishop Montgomery, Fairfax, Etiwanda and Sierra Canyon also were in the final rankings, produced this year for the first time by our partners at GrassrootsHoops.net.
For more on the final FAB 50 and for final West Region rankings, CLICK HERE.
(Here are writeups of the first five teams in the final FAB 50 national rankings for the 2014-15 season)
Note: Preseason ranking in parentheses; the editors of GrassrootsHoops.net were the only national ranking compilers to have Montverde Academy as its preseason No. 1 ranked team the last three seasons.
1. (1) Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) 31-1
For the second consecutive season, the Eagles defeated No. 2 Oak Hill Academy in the finals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament. Senior Ben Simmons led the way with 20 points, including 13 in the fourth period, 11 rebounds and six assists in the 70-61 win over Oak Hill Academy. Montverde Academy is the first team in the weekly poll era (1976-current) to win three consecutive mythical national titles and only the second program following the legendary McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.) teams of 1958-60. Simmons was a fixture on all three of Montverde’s Dick’s Nationals championship teams and played a different role on each. Coach Kevin Boyle’s club lost to No. 12 Wheeler in the City of Palms Tournament championship game, but Wheeler later lost to the West Linn (West Linn, Ore.) team the Eagles defeated 70-58. Prior to the 2013 season, Kevin Boyle just missed out on a Dick’s Nationals title when his 2012 team gave up a large fourth quarter lead against Findlay Prep and a couple of his teams at now defunct St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) came up just short of a national No. 1 finish. Boyle has flipped that trend and his team is closing out as well as any program in the country.
2. (2) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 46-2*
It was a bittersweet ending to a fantastic season when the Warriors lost to No. 1 Montverde Academy, 70-61, in the Dick’s Nationals championship game. They lost in last year’s title game to the Eagles by a near identical score and fell to 0-4 all-time in Dicks Nationals championship games since 2009. Still, it was a hugely successful year that saw Oak Hill set a program record for most wins in a season against a tough national schedule. Led by Mr. Basketball USA candidate Dwayne Bacon, a forward, and floor general Terrence Phillips, Oak Hill defeated No. 3 Cape Henry Collegiate, No. 4 Bishop O’Dowd twice and No. 7 Wesleyan Christian Academy. The Warriors were the only other team besides Montverde Academy to hold the top spot in the rankings. Oak Hill Academy held the top spot for a week before losing to No. 17 Hamilton in a game that was later overturned in the Warriors’ favor via forfeit. This is the 14th time Oak Hill has finished No. 1or No. 2 in the FAB 50 era. Oak Hill has won seven FAB 50 titles (and eight mythical national titles) and really is a handful of losses from doubling that number.
3. (32) Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, Va.) 31-2
With its 54-53 victory over Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), Cape Henry captured the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association D1 state title. The program is 57-3 the last two seasons and the win over Paul VI somewhat avenged a playoff loss to that program in 2014. The Dolphins lost to Cheick Diallo and Our Savior New American (not eligible for the FAB 50) and in double overtime to No. 2 Oak Hill Academy. Cape Henry wasn’t able to accept a Dicks Nationals invite because the VISAA allows its programs to have players who have repeated a year. We don’t allow programs that use fifth-year players in our rankings, but we do allow teams that are formally recognized by a state governing body and the Dolphins played association members from multiple states this season. It’s a unique situation we’ll monitor, but generally speaking we recognize programs that belong to an association and are allowed to play member schools from other states.
4. (7) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) 28-4
The Dragons won the CIF Open Division state title game in overtime 65-64 over No. 16 Mater Dei on a made free throw by Mr. Basketball USA candidate Ivan Rabb. The Cal-bound Rabb had 19 points, 21 rebounds and 2 blocks, but was the first to admit Boise St. recruit Paris Austin carried O’Dowd in the second half. The point guard finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists against only two turnovers in a pressure-filled situation. O’Dowd went wire-to-wire as California’s No. 1 team, which traditionally is tough to do, and didn’t lose to an in-state foe. Three of the four losses were to No. 1 Montverde Academy and No. 2 Oak Hill Academy.
5. (3) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) 29-3
For the second consecutive season, the Pilots came away with a big win in the Dick’s Nationals quarterfinals against a higher ranked foe after a so-so regular season performance. In this case, Findlay Prep defeated then No. 7 Ely, 63-50, behind 18 points from Arizona-bound Allonzo Trier. Findlay Prep then lost to No. 1 Montverde Academy, 57-53, in overtime under hard-to-believe circumstances. Findlay Prep played the Eagles even closer than Oak Hill Academy did, but that game and wins over No. 20 Stevenson and No. 39 Bishop Gorman are offset by losses to No. 27 Wayne and unranked Canyon Springs of Las Vegas. Trier and junior Derryck Thornton Jr. formed a dynamic backcourt, but the rebounding and clutch defensive play of senior forward Horace Spencer cannot be underestimated.
(Here are the additional six teams from California that also finished with a FAB 50 national ranking; Damien of La Verne was next and almost made it.)
16. (17) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 29-5
After the Monarchs graduated two-time All-American Stanley Johnson (Arizona), their season is considered a success even though they lost in overtime to No. 4 O’Dowd in the CIF Open state title game. Expectations were still sky high by us because of the coaching staff’s exceptional game preparation. The O’Dowd loss did break Mater Dei’s streak of nine consecutive 30-win seasons, but the improvement of players such as junior Bailey Stout and senior K.J. Smith down the stretch gave this club a chance to win a fifth consecutive CIF state title. The Monarchs big win came when they defeated then state No. 2 Bishop Montgomery in the SoCal Open regional semifinals after losing to No. 30 Etiwanda in the CIFSS Open Division semifinals.
22. (NR) Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.) 31-2
The Knights were expected to be state-ranked season, but they played above expectations and captured the coveted CIFSS Open Division title with a win over No. 30 Etiwanda. Without a true big man, Montgomery was Southern California’s top-ranked team since the league portion of the season, but it caught up to it down the stretch when the perimeter players seemed to tire a bit. Montgomery had a hard-to-explain loss to Marin Catholic (which wasn’t even state ranked), but had a sterling in-state resume otherwise. The improvement and steady play of senior forwards Blake Miles and Christian Oshita complimented the play of All-American candidate Stephen Thompson Jr.
28. (NR) Fairfax (Los Angeles, Calif.) 32-3
We knew the Lions were more talented than Western League rival Westchester, but the Comets had their number in recent seasons, so we wanted Fairfax to prove it. Fairfax proved it, defeating Westchester to win the first ever L.A. City Section Open Division title after splitting in league play. Fairfax’s big wins came over No. 30 Etiwanda in the CIFSS Open Regional semifinals and against No. 31 Sierra Canyon during the regular season. Led by L.A. City Section Player of the Year Lindsey Drew and flashy Lorne Currie Jr., junior guard Donald Gipson was the top outside threat, but he missed the regional final loss to No. 16 Mater Dei with an injured knee.
30. (26) Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.) 24-9
The Eagles saw their season end with a 58-50 loss to No. 28 Fairfax in the SoCal Open regional semifinals. Etiwanda had a six-point halftime lead, but a lull in the third quarter turned out to be the difference. A five-point third quarter also turned out to be the difference in the CIFSS Open Division title game loss to No. 22 Bishop Montgomery. Led by Pepperdine-bound Kam Edwards, Etiwanda didn’t win its league title, but it defeated No. 16 Mater Dei in the section semifinals to hand the Monarchs only their third loss at their home gym.
31. (14) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 26-4
Considering the loss of sophomore forward Ira Lee to a shoulder injury before the first game, this underclass-laden team still played up to tremendous expectations. Sierra Canyon split with No. 30 Etiwanda, but lost to the Eagles when it mattered most in the CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals. It dropped the Trailblazers to Division V for the regional playoffs and they rolled to the CIF state title. Led by sophomore forward Cody Riley and junior point guard Devearl Ramsey, this team went 3-1 at the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores