The long-awaited SBLive Missouri Power 25 rankings are here and the first thing we need to do is tackle the powerhouse program that has dominated its competition so far this season and garnered national recognition in the process.
Branson’s Link Academy is the #1 team in the SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25 high school men’s basketball rankings, but the Lions are ineligible to compete for the Missouri State High School Activities Association championship and therefore are not included in the SBLive Missouri high school boys basketball power 25 rankings.
Here’s a look at SBLive Missouri Power 25 (with registrations through January 23):
1. Staley (15-1)
Head coach Chris Neff’s Falcons were a top team in Missouri a year ago when they finished third in Class 6 and they’re even better this year. Elders Kyan Evans (Colorado State), Kayden Fish (Iowa State), and Cameron Manyawu (Indiana State) make Staley a tough opponent for anyone they face. The Falcons are expected to be tested against No. 2 Vashon (10-7) on Saturday and against Lee’s Summit West (15-1) next Tuesday.
2. Vashon (10-7)
Two-time defending Class 4 champion Wolverines have gone 42-5 over the past two seasons and returned another strong team. Vashon’s 10-7 record so far this winter includes seven losses to out-of-state competition. Coach Tony Irons’ team has faced just two Missouri teams this season, winning both games, but the Wolverines face a tough test against No. 1 Staley on Saturday.
3. Cardinal Ritter (15-3)
Manager Ryan Johnson’s Lions finished third in Class 5 a year ago, losing to eventual champions Webster Groves by three points in the semi-final, but are back with another outfit looking capable of challenging for a title state. Ritter opened the season with three losses in four games against out-of-state competition, but has now gone on a 14-game winning streak, including an impressive 14-point victory over visiting Chaminade on Monday night.
The Eagles went 28-4 a year ago and finished as Class 6 runners-up after losing to the CBC in the championship game. They are 27-1 in their last 28 games dating back to the middle of last season. Nixa hasn’t played the same kind of schedule as the teams ranked above, but the Eagles will have a chance to prove their worth down the stretch. A Tuesday match against visiting Kickapoo, which was postponed due to inclement weather, would have been a good test.
5Oak Park (17-1)
There is a clear top team in the Kansas City area in top-level Staley, but the Northmen have a great case as the next best team. Since their loss to Staley on December 15, Oak Park has gone on an 11-game winning streak.
6. Lee’s Summit West (15-1)
The Titans, like Oak Park, may be the second best team in the Kansas City area. But Lee’s Summit West, which has gone on a 15-game winning streak since losing their season opener, can still establish themselves as the best team in the area as the Titans play No. 1 Staley next Tuesday.
7. Chief Girardeau Central (18-0)
The Tigers have passed every test so far this winter, including three wins against Jackson (12-5), but they have two tough fights coming up. Central travels to face Illinois top-team Chicago Simeon (19-1) this Saturday at the Show-Me Champions Classic hosted by Vashon. Then on February 1, the Tigers will host the defending champion Missouri Class 6 CBC (10-8).
8. Chaminade (14-4)
The Red Devils are finishing fourth in Class 6 a year ago and are off to a flying start by winning 11 of their first 12 games. Since then, the Red Devils are 3-3 with losses to Illinois schools Sacred Heart-Griffin and East St. Louis and, on Monday, a 79-65 loss to Cardinal Ritter. Despite their recent difficult period, Chaminade’s talented outfit already have some quality wins on their resume this season and should be among the best Class 6 teams at the end of the season.
9. Kickapoo (10-5)
The Chiefs had three tough games at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions and picked up three losses there — to Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas), Staley and Bartlett (Tenn.) — though they held on going into the final day in a five-point loss against Bartlett. Kickapoo has some tough tests down the stretch, including against Nixa, and will have a chance to prove if the Chiefs are a Class 6 contender this year.
10. Kirkwood (15-0)
The Pioneers have new leadership this season, with Sam Briscoe taking over as head coach for the first time after three years as an assistant at Drury University, and they’re off to an impressive undefeated start after going 9-14 a year ago . How good is Kirkwood? We may find out this week at the Parkway West Circle 7 Ranch Showdown, where the Pioneers are the No. 1 seed and could meet second seed De Smet in the title game.
11. De Smet (11-4)
The Spartans opened the season strong with seven wins in their first eight games before losing twice in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Maryville University. They beat CBC at the CBC on an outgoing free throw, but then lost to Chaminade by 23 a few days later. The Spartans are competing in the Parkway West Circle 7 Ranch Showdown this week and will be looking for their second tournament title of the season.
12. Republic (15-1)
The Tigers had a remarkable turnaround, going from 15-12 a year ago, to 15-1 so far this season with their lone loss to Springdale, Ark. Republic competes in the Liberator tournament this weekend in Bolivar and has a tough exam trail coming up in Nixa and Webb City.
13. Ladue (14-3)
From a 3-2 start, which included losses to MICDS and Collinsville (Ill.), the Rams had 11 wins in their next 12 games with their lone loss to undefeated Kirkwood.
14. Park Hill (10-6)
The Trojans lost four of their first seven games against a tough schedule that included Nixa and Lee’s Summit West, but rebounded to win seven of their next nine games, including revenge for an early season loss to North Kansas City. Park Hill hosts top tier Staley this Friday and then plays at No. 5 Oak Park next week.
15. Park Hill South (12-5)
The Panthers opened the season by winning eight of their first 10 games before a tough period with three straight losses to Park Hill, Staley and Liberty. But Park Hill South have since bounced back with four straight wins.
16. Northern Kansas City (11-6)
Three of the Hornets’ six losses have come against out-of-state competition and two more have been by a combined total of four points. North Kansas City has scored over 100 points twice this season but faces tough tests down the stretch with games at Staley and Oak Park and against Lee’s Summit West.
17. Christian Brothers College (10-8)
Defending Class 6 champions Missouri had a tough time against a tough schedule with a new-look lineup after losing three Division I players to graduation (and a fourth to relocation). Five of the CBC’s eight losses have come against out-of-state opponents, but more concerning are recent home losses to Metro Catholic Conference rivals De Smet and St. Louis University High.
18. Borgia (17-2)
The Knights opened the season with a 15-game hitting streak before back-to-back losses to St. Charles and Cardinal Ritter in mid-January. Borgia should have some tough tests down the stretch.
Jackson’s résumé would look much better were it not for three losses to undefeated Cape Girardeau Central, but the Indians have impressed in two wins over Charleston (with a third fight to come) and a win over Sikeston.
20th Charleston (15-5)
The Blue Jays won eight straight games going into their matchup with St. Mary’s at the Show Me Champions Classic in Vashon this Saturday. Then they get another third game against Jackson, where they will look to avenge two previous losses.
21. New County of Central Madrid (10-5)
The Eagles are expected to be battle-tested come playoff time after a tough schedule that included facing several out-of-state teams. New Madrid have two losses to undefeated Cape Girardeau Central and a one-point loss to Cardinal Ritter in a midnight tip-off game at the Norm Stewart Classic in Colombia.
The Kewpies’ tough schedule includes losses to nationally ranked Link Academy, as well as Chaminade and Oak Park. Hickman had a good run at the Coaches vs. St. Louis’ Cancer Classic before coming up short in the title game against Lafayette.
23. Rock bridge (10-3)
Two of the Bruins’ three losses have come to out-of-state opponents. Rock Bridge played well in the Phog Allen Tournament in Kansas and Lee’s Summit Tournament but went 2-1 in both events. The Bruins will be looking to clinch the title at the Fort Zumwalt Invitational this week.
24. Sikeston (11-4)
The Bulldogs have been a top team in Southeast Missouri, but have failed to keep up with Cape Girardeau Central, Jackson and Charleston in previous matchups this season. Sikeston will get rematches against Cape Central and Jackson down the stretch as well as a test against New Madrid County Central.
25. Troy Buchanan (12-3)
The Trojans have won seven straight games since a two-point loss to Lafayette in the Coaches vs. Cancer at Maryville University in late December left them at 5-3 on the year. Troy’s three losses were by a total of seven points.
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