SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The O-Zone Power Rankings are compiled by the staff each week based on a team's relative dominance by class. The schools are not compared head to head, but rather by how strong they are against similar competition as well as current momentum.
An uncharacteristic eight of last week’s top 15 teams had losses last week for a total of 11 losses.
(Last week in parenthesis)
- Nixa, 16-3 (2) – The Eagles have more than proved that they are the elite team in the Ozarks. While it still remains to be seen if they can take home that coveted class 5 state title, Coach Osborne’s entire team has stepped up for the challenge with the absence of 4-year starter Jalen Norman. Nixa cruised through its own tournament with wins over Harrisonville, Hogan Prep and a 2nd half surge to hold off a rising Kickapoo group. It’s all COC action from now until districts.
- Mt Vernon, 16-5 (6) – The ‘Neers had their six game winning streak snapped Thursday night against Willard in the Nixa Tournament quarterfinals. They did however bounce back with double digit wins over Harrisonville and Eugene. This is a scary team come playoff time, especially with the quality schedule that will prepare them to play anybody in class 3.
- Republic, 16-2 (3) – The Tigers were on the wrong end of one of the games of the year Friday night; falling in double overtime to Rogersville (Rod Gorman’s 500th career win). The Tigers bounced back with a 22 point win over Strafford. I’m not a coach, but I’d say a good wakeup call at this point in the season isn’t the worst thing.
- Billings, 15-4 (1) – It was a rough weekend for the Wildcats dropping all three games at the Nixa Tournament, all be it to larger schools Hogan Prep, Eugene and Harrisonville. The good news for the defending state champs is there is still time to get things turned back in the right direction before playoff time.
- Fair Play, 14-1 (7) – The Hornets can now boast the best boys record in Southwest Mo. Coach Long’s class 1 club has won six straight since falling to Ash Grove at the Walnut Grove Tournament. Senior guard Lance Schaffer has been on fire of late with a pair of 40+ point performances. FP hosts Everton in a key district battle Monday night.
- Parkview, 15-4 (5) – Like many other top area teams it was not a good week for the Vikings. After falling 45-38 at Kickapoo on Tuesday they dropped a 58-50 non-conference game at Branson. This week features a couple more tough tasks, hosting Joplin and visiting Hillcrest.
- Strafford, 14-4 (4) – After a quality win over class 4 West Plains in the Rogersville Tournament the Indians succumbed to larger schools Ozark and Republic. Several Mid-Lakes Conference road blocks stand in the way in Strafford’s final six games, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them run the table.
- Skyline 15-4 (9) – The Tigers won their seventh in a row with a 31 point win over Stockton last week. Just one game this week again, but you can bet they’ll be ready for a trip to rival Fair Grove.
- Hartville, 16-3 (8) – The Eagles were tripped up Tuesday at MV-BT/Liberty, snapping a 6-game winning streak, but bounced right back to beat Houston. Friday night features a showdown for the Summit League title as Hartville hosts 16-4 Fordland.
- Clever, 16-3 (10) – The Jays picked up big wins over Blue Eye and East Newton last week led by senior Dalton Fisher’s 49 points, 12 assists, 10 steals, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and a kitchen sink, oh wait. Clever is 3-0 in the SWCL, but still have Billings, Spokane and Sparta on the schedule. That should be a good race.
- Hillcrest, 13-5 (11) – The Hornets were glad to return to local competition with a 48-43 win over Waynesville. Despite a well noted lack of height, Hillcrest should still be considered one of the area’s favorites to reach the Final Four.
- Webb City, 15-3 (12) – The Cardinals extended their winning streak to nine games last week with Bolivar Tournament wins over Morrisville, Aurora and the host Liberators. WC is also in the mix for class 4 area teams to make a run at the Final Four.
- Kickapoo, 12-5 (14) – Yes the Chiefs have five losses, but when you consider two of those were to Kickapoo and another one was to Arkansas powerhouse Fayetteville it starts looking a lot more impressive. Poo dispatched Harrisonville and Willard with ease at last week’s Nixa Tournament before a hard fought loss to the host Eagles Saturday night.
- Fordland, 16-4 (NR) – The Eagles kind of snuck up on us out of the Summit League, winning nine of their last ten, including a Conway Tournament championship victory over Crane. Circle Friday’s trip to Hartville in what should decide the conference title.
- Branson, 13-6 (15) – The Pirates had a couple of head scratching early season losses, but have been money in the bank against some of the area’s best, including a 58-50 win over Parkview last Friday. They have the roster to compete with the Ozarks’ best class 5 teams and will have to prove it over the next couple weeks with a murderers row led by Nixa, Ozark, Webb City and Republic.