Dec. 23 Boys Basketball Power Rankings

These power rankings are based on dominance by class and not a strictly head-to-head ranking. One team could have lost to another team and still be ranked above them. The class of the school is the key factor in these rankings.

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  1. Eminence (5-2 – Class 1)

The defending Class 1 state champions have two losses, but they are still my pick as most likely to win a state championship amongst the area’s teams this winter. My opinion of the Redwings is based largely off of watching them against Springfield Catholic in the Ozark Mountain Shootout. Catholic very well could be the area’s best team regardless of class and Eminence hung with them until the fourth quarter where the Redwings just ran out of gas against a deep Class 3 team. The most impressive part of that loss to Catholic was Grant Dyer. Reigning Class 1 Player of the Year Trent McBride was bottled up most of the game, but that proved to be no problem as Dyer scored Eminence’s first 10 points on his way to a game-high 32 points.

UP NEXT: Eminence received the No. 2 seed in the Cabool Holiday Tournament. If seeds hold, area basketball fans are in for a treat in the semifinals as Class 1 No. 1 Eminence would be facing Class 1 No. 2 Dora. The other side of the bracket has Class 3 No. 6 Licking and a very good Thayer squad at Nos. 1 and 4.

  1. Greenwood (10-0 – Class 2)

Aminu Mohammed is the best basketball player in southwest Missouri. That fact alone will have Greenwood as a favorite in any Class 2 game they play this season. He is averaging 36.8 points per game so far this season. Greenwood’s ceiling was a bit uncertain until this past Thursday when they beat a very good Class 4 Rogersville squad 70-68. Mohammed does everything whether he is scoring, rebounding or setting up his teammates for open looks at the basket. The only thing that can slow Mohammed down is foul trouble. Against Rogersville, the Blue Jays were up 70-60 when he fouled out. The Blue Jays won 70-68. Is Greenwood unbeatable? No. Will they have the best player on the court in every game this season? Yes, and that means a lot in any sport, but especially in basketball.

UP NEXT: Greenwood will get a chance to continue showing what it is capable of as a seven seed in the Gold Division of the Blue & Gold Tournament. The Blue Jays open with undefeated Class 3 Stockton. If they win, their next game would likely be against Class 5 Ozark. Fellow undefeated Class 2 Mansfield and Class 5 Republic also reside on Greenwood’s side of the bracket.

  1. Catholic (10-0 – Class 3)

No. 1 seeds in the Blue & Gold Tournament are generally reserved for Class 4 & 5 schools. This year Catholic was a no doubt No. 1 seed. The Irish are defending Blue & Gold Champions and a part of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions this year. The Irish are arguably the area’s best team regardless of class. They are ranked No. 2 in Class 3 behind one of the state’s top teams in Vashon. Their strength is their depth. Any player on any night can lead them in scoring.

UP NEXT: Catholic holds the No. 1 seed in the Gold Division of the Blue & Gold Tournament. They get a good Ava team in the first round before likely facing an under-seeded Bolivar in the second round. No. 4 Glendale, No. 5 Lebanon along with Marshfield and Camdenton also reside on Catholic’s side of the bracket.

  1. Mansfield (9-0 – Class 2)

This is the year Mansfield has been building towards for a while. The Lions are experienced with seven of their top eight scorers being seniors. They are also big and not just for a Class 2 squad. Their top six scorers go 6’9, 6’2, 6’4, 6’1, 6’0 and 6’3. That 6’9 presence is senior Dylan Caruso who is averaging 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Payton Watterson is just behind him averaging 16.3 points per game. Hunter Gray (10.9 ppg) and Jay’Lan Williams (10.4 ppg) also are averaging in double figures.

UP NEXT: There are few teams I am more excited to follow in the holiday tournaments than Mansfield. The Lions have a chance to establish themselves as one of the area’s best teams regardless of class with their experience and size. They start off with Class 4 Reeds Spring in the Gold Division. They will then get Republic or Class 2 Skyline in the second round. Ozark and Greenwood also reside on their side of the bracket with Catholic sitting as the No. 1 seed.

  1. Rolla (6-0 – Class 4)

Rolla graduated all-state selection Josh Pritchett along with second-team all-conference selection Nick Janke. They were supposed to take a step back this year. They haven’t. Their style isn’t pretty, but it is effective. After watching them win the Republic Tournament title in a foul-laden championship game against Ozark, I asked Rolla coach Mark Miller about spending so much time at the line and his response was “the free throw line is flow for us.” Rolla exerts their will on opponents. It may not always be elegant, but it is effective.

UP NEXT: Rolla hosts its own holiday tournament starting on Dec. 27 against Columbia Hickman. The Bulldogs will face either Rockwood Summit or Central Academy of Excellence in the second round with Carthage, Warrensburg, Raytown South and Mexico on the other side.

  1. Dora (7-1 – Class 1)

The Falcons are led by the same group that made them one of the state’s best Class 1 teams last year. That group includes sophomores Isaac Haney along with triplets Bryson, Mason and Auston Luna. Haney is leading the team at 23.5 points per game with the triplets averaging 11.7, 11.5 and 6.2 points per game respectively. The Falcons will have a chance to move up these rankings based on how they do in the Cabool Tournament.

UP NEXT: Dora drew the No. 3 seed in the Cabool Holiday Tournament. If they can make the semifinals, they will likely get a game with Class 1 No. 1 and power-ranked No. 1 Eminence. Class 3 state-ranked Licking is also in the field on the other side of the bracket.

  1. Licking (8-0 – Class 3)

Licking is off to a dominant start with an undefeated run where the Wildcats have won games by an average of 74.9-39.3. The Wildcats are poised to have a great record this year without any currently state-ranked teams waiting on the regular season schedule. One of the biggest tests for Licking will likely come in the Cabool Tournament

UP NEXT: Licking is the top seed in the Cabool Holiday Tournament. Thayer sits at the No. 4 seed. If seeds hold, either Class 1 No. 1 Eminence or No. 2 Dora would be the opponent. A matchup with Eminence would be very interesting as fellow Class 3 school Catholic has already played the Redwings, so it would serve as a common opponent for comparison.

  1. Strafford (6-1 – Class 3)

Strafford is under-seeded in the Blue & Gold. The Indians have one loss to Class 4 Bolivar, but have several quality wins that includes handing Valley Springs (Ark.) its first loss of the season after winning 19 consecutive games to start the season. Tyler Ryerson has hit the ground running as head coach of Strafford. He will lead the Indians into the Blue & Gold Tournament for the first time in a few days.

UP NEXT: Strafford is an eight seed in the Blue Division. The Indians face Aurora first. Then they could present a problem for No. 1 seed Parkview who will be without star Tyem Freeman who was lost for the season to an ACL injury. No. 4 West Plains and No. 5 Hartville are the other ranked teams on Strafford’s side of the bracket.

  1. Hartville (8-1 – Class 2)

Hartville is young with just one returning senior and no returning starters, but that hasn’t mattered for Brett Reed’s Eagles. Their record has not reflected any of that inexperience as they are out to an 8-1 start that include wins over one-loss Fair Grove, Class 4 Hillcrest and Aurora and Class 3 Mountain Grove and MV-BT Liberty. Their lone loss is to arguably the area’s best team in Class 3 Catholic by 11 points.

UP NEXT: Hartville got a lot of respect from the Blue & Gold seeding committee in the form of a No. 5 seed in the Blue Bracket. The Eagles will face Spokane first with a game against either West Plains or Mt. Vernon in the second round. No. 1 Parkview, No. 8 Strafford, Clever and Aurora also reside on Hartville’s side of the bracket.

  1. Fair Grove (7-1 – Class 3)

The Cale Ramsey era is off to a strong start in Fair Grove with a 7-1 start. The Eagles had a great run heading into the holiday tournaments with key Class 3 victories over Mt. Vernon and Mountain Grove. The Eagles’ lone loss was to Class 2 state-ranked Hartville. They are an experienced team led by seniors and juniors including David Oplotnik, Cole Gilpin, Kyle Stacey and Kamron Stacey.

UP NEXT: Fair Grove is seeded No. 7 in the Blue Division of the Blue & Gold Tournament and open with Hollister. Their second game will be a challenge no matter what with either No. 2 seeded Class 5 Willard or currently undefeated Crane awaiting. Nixa, Rogersville, Branson and Mountain Grove also reside on Fair Grove’s side of the bracket.

  1. Crane (10-0 – Class 2)

Crane has stacked up the wins early winning the Diamond Tournament Championship to start December before rolling into Christmas with double-digit wins. The Pirates don’t currently own a victory over a state-ranked team, but they will get a chance to prove themselves in the Blue & Gold Tournament

UP NEXT: Crane opens Blue Bracket play with No. 2 seed and Class 5 Willard, which will be a very tough team for Crane to take down. Their second game will be against either Fair Grove or Hollister.

  1. Rogersville (4-3 – Class 4)

Class 4 is wide open and Rogersville is as good of a candidate as any to make a deep run. Their record right now won’t impress you at 4-3, but none of those losses is inexcusable. They took losses on back-to-back days to Class 5 schools Ozark and Republic in the Republic Tournament. Their third loss was to Class 2 No. 1 Greenwood led by Aminu Mohammed. The wins jump off the page and particularly the win over West Plains. The Zizzers are 6-1 with a great 48-38 win over Joplin on their resume. Rogersville handed them their lone loss by a 20-point margin.  The Wildcats also own wins over Class 5 Branson (by 14 points), Class 4 Hillcrest (by 29) and St. Louis Christian Academy (by 33). They are led by Luke Vandersnick who is one of the area’s best players.

UP NEXT: Rogersville is under-seeded as No. 6 in the Blue Bracket of the Blue & Gold Tournament. Their path is not easy. They open with defending Blue & Gold Champion Mountain Grove. That game will be followed by either No. 3 Nixa or a rematch with Branson. No. 2 Willard, No. 7 Fair Grove, Hollister and Crane also reside on the Wildcats’ side of the bracket.

  1. Bolivar (4-3 – Class 4)
    As I stated above, Class 4 is wide open. Bolivar started off rough with a 1-2 record in the Branson Tournament with losses to the host Pirates and Lake Hamilton (Ark.). Since then, the Liberators have been playing great basketball going 3-1. That run features wins over Hillcrest (by 8), Strafford (by 19) and the most impressive win a 24-point blowout of Class 5 Ozark (a No. 2 seed in the Blue & Gold) on the road. The one loss was by three to Class 5 Republic.

UP NEXT: Bolivar is clearly under-seeded as an eight at the Blue & Gold as evidenced by 24-point win over No. 2 seeded Ozark. The Liberators open with Willow Springs in Gold Division play. If they win and seeds hold, they will get another chance for a statement game against No. 1 seed Catholic. No. 4 Glendale, No. 5 Lebanon, Camdenton and Marshfield all reside on Bolivar’s half of the bracket.

  1. Parkview (6-3 – Class 5)
    The Vikings lost star Ty Freeman to a season-ending knee injury during the win over Ozark. The Vikings have played two games without Freeman. They lost on the road against a very good East St. Louis squad that is among the best in the St. Louis area. Parkview bounced back with a 62-35 win over Central last Thursday. Freeman was averaging 26.1 points, 6.3 rebounds. 3.4 assists and 2.7 steals per game before the injury. Dontae Taylor will have to expand on his 13 point-per-game output for the Vikings to continue to be successful. Nakai Johnson, Anthony Green, Latre Morrison and Jevin Huddleston all are averaging between 3.4 and 8.6 points per game and will also need to increase their output.

UP NEXT: Parkview is the No. 1 seed in the Blue Bracket of the Blue & Gold Tournament. The Vikings open with Clever and then will face either Strafford or Aurora. Parkview still has the talent to make a deep run and potentially win its first Blue & Gold championship since the late ‘70’s.

  1. Republic (6-2 – Class 5)
    The Broc Smith-led Tigers have had a strong start to the season with a 6-2 record. The losses are both quality to undefeated Rolla and Oklahoma power Tulsa Memorial. Wins over Rogersville, Helias Catholic and Bolivar are all solid. Coach Tim Brown is new to the program but not new to the Blue & Gold Tournament. The Tigers are a real threat to win the tournament as a No. 3 seed.

UP NEXT: Republic opens with a tough Class 2 squad in Skyline. Then they are likely to see an even strong Class 2 team in unbeaten Mansfield in the second round. Ozark and Class 2 Greenwood are the other two seeded teams on Republic’s half of the bracket.

Knocking on the door: Ozark, Willard, Stockton, Verona, Kickapoo, Webb City