Top-10 matchups produce shake-up in preps power rankings

Top-10 matchups produce shake-up in preps power rankings
January 12, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Scott Phillips

There was quite a shake-up in the latest edition of the CSN Preps Power Rankings this week as two matchups between top-10 teams and numerous other games between ranked opponents dictated a lot of the changes in the rankings.

The new No. 1 team in the area is the Marian Catholic Spartans. At 13-1, the Spartans might be the deepest and most balanced team in the state, but they have plenty of competition behind them in Public League powers Curie and Orr.

One of the interesting things about the new top three teams: None of them have lost to an opponent from the state of Illinois yet this season.

1. Marian Catholic (13-1) (2)

The Spartans are the new No. 1 team in the area after a pair of weekend wins over No. 18 St. Viator and Lausanne Collegiate (TN). Tyler Ulis came up big again, but his supporting cast of T.J. Parham, John Oliver, Christopher Austin, Ki-Jana Crawford and company are all playing at an incredibly high level right now and they're clearly the premier team in the area. Marian Catholic is still unbeaten against teams from Illinois.

2. Curie (13-1) (3)

It looked like the Condors were on the ropes against North Chicago, as they trailed 39-27 at halftime before stepping it up in the second half and winning at the Bob Hambric Shootout. Curie -- like Marian Catholic -- has yet to fall to an Illinois opponent this season.

3. Orr (9-1) (6)

The Spartans picked up a Red-West win over Westinghouse and also topped Paducah St. Mary in Kentucky. A big contest with Whitney Young looms this week that could mean a lot in the race for the Red-West. Like the top two teams, Marian Catholic and Curie, Orr has not yet fallen to an opponent from the Land of Lincoln.

4. Stevenson (13-1) (1)

The Patriots fell to No. 6 Zion-Benton on the road, in overtime, but they were missing their third leading scorer Matt Johnson, and had a poor shooting performance from junior guard Jalen Brunson. Stevenson will have another big game coming up against No. 17 Lake Forest this week.

5. Simeon (10-2) (7)

Simeon earned a nice road win over Harlan in the Red-South and they'll have a big game coming up against No. 8 Bogan this week. Have the Wolverines finally found a team leader, or are they talented and deep enough to get by without one.

6. Zion-Benton (13-1) (8)

Huge win over previously unbeaten No. 4 Stevenson at home for the Zee-Bees as multiple players stepped up in the clutch. Milik Yarbrough hit the game-tying three to force overtime and Fred Calvert knocked in the game-winning shot in overtime. Zion-Benton will need to do a better job of controlling turnovers if they want to maintain their elite status though.

7. Morgan Park (11-3) (4)

The Mustangs topped Brooks, but fell by a point to Normal U-High on the road. Can Nick Irvin's ballclub bounce back during a tough week of Red-South play against Harlan and No. 8 Bogan?

8. Bogan (14-2) (9)

The Bengals picked up a nice Red-South win over Vocational, but they'll be really tested this week when they have to face No. 5 Simeon and No. 7 Morgan Park in crucial Red-South contests. Luwane Pipkins is playing great ball so far this season.

9. North Chicago (13-2) (5)

The Warhawks took two games against North Suburban Prairie competitors Lakes and Round Lake before falling to No. 2 Curie in the Bob Hambric Shootout. The ankle injury to JayQuan McCloud is concerning, but the Warhawks have plenty of firepower without him.

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10. Fremd (14-0) (10)

The class of the Mid-Suburban League, Fremd cruised to an easy win over Barrington and have a week to prepare for Palatine. After Stevenson's loss to Zion-Benton, Fremd is the last unbeaten team in the area, and that could be the case for quite some time.

11. Loyola (12-2) (11)

Back to facing Illinois competition after their holiday trip to Florida, the Ramblers picked up a couple Catholic North wins over St. Laurence and Mount Carmel during the week. A big game with St. Rita is coming up on Tuesday, but Loyola still hasn't lost to a team from Illinois.

12. St. Joseph (13-2) (12)

The Chargers raced past Leo and Lincoln-Way North during the week and although junior guards Glynn Watson and Jordan Ash get a lot of the credit, sophomore big man Nick Rakocevic is rapidly improving during the season and put up 20 points and 11 rebounds against Lincoln-Way North.

13. Whitney Young (9-4) (14)

The Dolphins cruised to a Red-West win over Marshall on Wednesday, although they were a bit sluggish in the first half. Whitney Young will have some solid tests against Westinghouse and No. 3 Orr in Red-West play this week.

14. Proviso East (11-3) (15)
 
Jevon Carter notched a career-high 31 points in a nice win for Proviso East over Hinsdale South. The Pirates have a big week ahead as they have contests against No. 22 Morton and No. 20 Fenwick coming up next weekend.

15. Larkin (14-2) (16)

The Royals picked up a solid road win at Neuqua Valley as they remain 5-0 and unbeaten in the Upstate Eight River. Forward Christian Negron is arguably the most productive freshman varsity basketball player in the area.

16. West Aurora (8-3) (19)

In a battle of DuPage Valley unbeatens, Roland Griffin stepped up big in the fourth quarter to give the Blackhawks the road win over Glenbard North and they followed that up with a win over Wheaton North. West Aurora will face Naperville North and Schaumburg this week.

17. Lake Forest (12-3) (13)

After a nine-game winning streak, Lake Forest fell to a surging Warren team this week as the Blue Devils were able to slow down the Scouts in the fourth quarter. Lake Forest can't hang their head for too long through, they'll face No. 4 Stevenson on Friday.

18. St. Viator (12-3) (17)

The Lions split a pair of games against ranked opponents as they fell to No. 1 Marian Catholic on the road and won in overtime over No. 24 Hinsdale Central in an overtime win at home. Senior guard Ore Arogundade became St. Viator's all-time leading scorer during the win over the Red Devils.

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19. York (14-2) (18)

The Dukes dropped a tough one to No. 25 Benet, but bounced back with a win over Immaculate Conception. York still leads the very deep West Suburban Silver and the face Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South this week.

20. Fenwick (12-4) (22)

The Friars beat a young but talented Gordon Tech team but they'll be really tested this week when they face No. 12 St. Joseph and No. 14 Proviso East. Fenwick is one of three 5-0 teams in the Catholic North along with St. Joseph and Loyola.

21. Maine South (10-3) (23)

The Hawks picked up wins over Niles West and Taft and have games coming up this week against Warren and Glenbrook South before traveling to the Galesburg Martin Luther King event this weekend.

22. Morton (8-3) (24)

Morton topped Leyden and they'll have a big test against No. 14 Proviso East this week. Can the Mustangs get over the hump in the West Suburban 

23. Evanston (13-4) (25) 

The Wildkits overcame a big performance from Duante Stephens to knock off Niles North and also beat Waukegan during the week. Evanston will face Niles West and Oak Park-River Forest this week.

24. Hinsdale Central (11-4) (20)

The Red Devils picked up a win over Proviso West before falling to No. 18 St. Viator in an overtime road loss. Hinsdale Central will be tested by a really good Lyons team this week in West Suburban Silver play.

25. Benet (9-4) (NR)

After being knocked out the rankings for a few weeks, the Red Wings are back thanks to a big win over No. 19 York. Benet has played one of the toughest schedules in the area and they're still one of the favorites in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

Previously ranked: No. 21 Oak Park-River Forest (11-4)