Note: All records are through Dec. 17
1. Independence (7-0)
Previous ranking: No. 4
The Patriots made the biggest jump of the week, and rightfully so. Coach Preston Davis embraced his team’s underdog role to start the year, but Independence is now the Southwestern 4A leader after beating Butler in a wire-to-wire 78-70 win on Dec. 15. Jamrius Burton is the Patriots’ leader, but Andra’ McKee, Matt Smith and Jordan Mobley have the Patriots riding high as the new No. 1.
2. Carmel Christian (11-1)
Previous ranking: No. 2
The Cougars had their 11-game win streak snapped at home by Gaston Day in a 14-point loss on Dec. 15, but they aren’t to be taken lightly. Donovan Gregory, who scored 29 points in the loss, is one of the state’s top juniors and his supporting cast of guys like Marten Maide and Myles Pierre will have this team at the top of the rankings all season long.
3. Providence Day (9-4)
Previous ranking: No. 3
The Chargers have gone just 4-4 over their past eight games, but those losses include mostly close defeats at the hands of nationally ranked Montverde Academy, Greensboro Day and Cox Mill. Providence Day returned from their trip to China and defeated Hickory Grove Christian 81-64. They will play in the Columbia (S.C.) Chick-Fil-A Classic against more stiff competition, but the Chargers are gearing up for another long playoff run.
4. Butler (6-2)
Previous ranking: No. 1
The Bulldogs have struggled a bit over the past two weeks or so, slipping past Rocky River and snapping a long conference win streak with losses at Myers Park and at Independence. Those losses won’t sway the confidence of the Bulldogs Big 3 of DJ Little, Gerrale Gates and Raquan Brown and do little to change the fact that Butler is a legit state title contender although they will have to work out the kinks soon.
5. Charlotte Christian (9-3)
Previous ranking: no. 5
The Knights blew out Hickory Grove and Spring Valley this past week, and seem to have it going in the right direction heading into their holiday tournament. Blake Preston has led much of the charge, but when the Knights get a team-high 17 points from E E-Udosomwan like they did in the win over Spring Valley, not many teams can beat them.
6. Rocky River (6-2)
Previous ranking: No. 6
The red-hot Ravens have won three straight and four of their past five, keeping themselves in the thick of the Southwestern 4A race. Jaden Springer has averaged 27 points per game during the three-game win streak and Darlinstone Dubar has chipped in with 18 per contest. Together, they have the Ravens peaking heading into their holiday tournament.
7. Charlotte Catholic (6-1)
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Cougars opened the season with a loss to Country Day, but have rattled off six straight wins including key victories over Ardrey Kell, Piedmont, Weddington and Parkwood already this year. Seniors Matt Ciccone, Luke Harkins and Sean Rogan are all averaging more than 15 points per game, but the Cougars have seven guys averaging six or more points per game, making them tough to match up with.
Dropped out: Ardrey Kell (7-2)
Also receiving votes: Country Day (8-3), Myers Park (6-3)