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.
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(Last week in parenthesis)
1. Mt Vernon, 16-5 (2) – We’re taking a chance with the Mountaineers at number one this week. While they do have five losses, four of those came to class 5 teams and the other to a state ranked class four team. The ‘Neers took care of Carthage last week and will now look to run the table to an undefeated Big 8 championship.
2. Nixa, 16-4 (1) – For the first time since the 2011 district championship Nixa has lost to a Southwest Missouri team, and it just happened to be the same team, Branson. The Pirates took down class 5 top ranked Nixa Friday night with a last second 3-pointer from Thatch Unruh. For the first time in a while Nixa has shown it is mortal, but this may also be just the motivation this group needs to carry it through the playoffs.
3. Republic, 18-2 (3) – The Tigers have been great this season and continued that on Friday with a class 4 top ten win at Webb City (video at bottom of the article). Republic also beat Central early last week. The true test comes this week with a Friday trip to Nixa. How will RepMo’s size and half-court offense fare against the Eagles run and gun style?
4. Billings, 17-4 (4) – Since dropping three in a row at the Nixa Tournament the Wildcats have bounced back with wins over Spokane and Blue Eye. A huge test for the high scoring Wildcats waits Friday with a trip to fellow SWCL 5-0 team Clever.
5. Strafford, 16-4 (7) – After dropping two of three at the Rogersville Tournament the Indians have bounced back nicely with blowout wins against Pleasant Hope and Stockton. Skyline, Marionville and Fair Grove prove difficult challenges down the stretch, but we believe the Indians have a strong shot at a deep playoff run if they can all come together in these final couple weeks.
6. Hartville, 18-3 (9) – The Eagles took control of the Summit League with a memorable 57-49 win over Fordland Friday night. Following the victory, head coach Brett Reed proposed to his girlfriend Maggie Arnall. She said yes of course, afterwards commenting now she has two rings, her engagement ring and her 2007 state championship ring in which she hit the game winning 3-pointer in the final seconds.
7. Hillcrest, 14-5 (11) – As often is the case, the Hornets are hitting their stride at the right time. After leading Parkview by two at the half on Friday, they ended up winning by a whopping 38 points. Junior guard Juwan Johnson leading the way with 28 points, 23 of which came in the second half. Hillcrest leads the OC at the midway point in what could likely come down to the season finale February 19th at Kickapoo.
8. Fair Play, 14-2 (5) – Area boys basketball this season seems to have a similar feel to the NCAA men; no one wants the top spot. Just when the Hornets get on a roll they fall to Everton 63-62. It was certainly not a bad loss, but could possibly cost them a top seed in districts.
9. Clever, 18-3 (10) – The Jays continue to roll. Following a January 18th loss to Mt Vernon they’ve won four straight, including wins over Forsyth and Spokane last week. Circle your calendar for Friday February 8th when the Jays host Billings in what will likely decide the SWCL regular season title.
10. Kickapoo, 14-5 (13) – The Chiefs have won seven of their last eight and have proved as one of the most improved class five teams since the start of the season. Very similar to Hillcrest, the Chiefs have a pretty clear path to the conference title before a regular season ending matchup with the Hornets. With that said, throw out the records when they meet Glendale in the annual south side rivalry game Tuesday night at Drury.
11. Skyline 15-6 (8) – After winning six in a row the Tigers have dropped two straight, falling 71-69 to Richland and 71-62 to improving Fair Grove. The Tigers have a difficult week ahead, including a Friday trip to Mid-Lakes front runner Strafford.
12. Branson, 14-6 (15) – Simply put, the Pirates are giant killers. After knocking off Parkview two weeks ago, Coach McTague’s buccos took down mighty Nixa last Friday. Senior Thatch Unruh hit the game winner at the buzzer. Fans stormed the court in Nixa’s first area loss since falling to Branson in the 2011 district championship.
13. Parkview, 16-5 (6) – The Vikings take a nose dive after dropping four of their last six games. Despite a turbo clock win over Joplin earlier in the week, Parkview was run off the court Friday at Hillcrest, falling 70-32, after trailing by just two at the half. The good news is the difficult portion of the conference slate is behind them with five winnable games to go.
14. Webb City, 15-5 (12) – The Cardinals are very talented and have been solid this season, but are starting to show some signs of weakness. Last week saw back to back losses to Nevada and Republic (video at bottom of the article). The next couple weeks will be rough with COC Large matchups against Willard, Branson, Carthage and Nixa. Still, don’t count out Webb in the class 4 playoffs.
15. Everton, 17-4 (NR) – The Tigers have emerged as a formidable foe in class 1, especially after knocking off Fair Play (see video at bottom of article). Cody Brewer and Dave Allen combine to score over 42 points per game, providing the scoring duo necessary to make a run in the class 1 playoffs. After falling to New Covenant in the Mark Twain Championship earlier this season, it will be interesting when they meet again in Springfield February 12th.
Knocking on the door: Crane (15-5), Diamond (16-3), Fordland (16-5), Ash Grove (16-6), Eminence (16-5), Osceola (16-4), Bolivar (14-6), MV-BT/Liberty (16-6), New Covenant (14-5)
Video: Republic 48, Webb City 39
Video: Everton 63, Fair Play 62