Note: All records are through Feb. 4
1. Independence (21-1)
Previous ranking: No. 1
It’s been a magical ride for Independence as they have won 12 games in a row, including a 12-0 mark to to date in conference play. The Patriots have also passed the 20-win mark for the third straight season, but this may be the best team the Patriots may have had under coach Preston Davis. They flexed their muscles in a 70-65 win over rival Butler on Jan. 30 behind 23 points and six assists from Jamarius Burton, 12 points and eight rebounds from Matt Smith and 12 points, four rebounds and four assists from Andra’ McKee. Three days later, the Patriots blasted Garinger 78-36 as McKee’s 17 points led four Patriots in double figures.
2. Carmel Christian (20-4)
Previous ranking: No. 2
The Cougars have won 20 games for the third straight season, but haven’t played much since the middle of January. In the two games they have played, the Cougars are 1-1, beating Calvary Day 84-60 and falling to Concord First Assembly 62-58. In that loss, which could be a preview of the NCISAA 2A championship game, Donovan Gregory and Josh Price both scored 17 points. Carmel Christian will be a state title contender, but have to be fresh as they enter the playoffs.
3. Butler (18-4)
Previous ranking: No. 3
The Bulldogs won’t repeat as Southwestern 4A conference champions after falling to Independence for the second straight time, but that doesn’t affect their long-term goals. They are still talented and experienced enough to win the conference tournament and make another deep run in the playoffs, something Bulldog fans have become accustomed to. The Bulldogs bounced back from their loss to the Patriots by blowing out Hickory Ridge 76-57 on Feb. 2 behind DJ Little’s career high 33 points and Gerrale Gates tallied 15 points and nine rebounds.
4. Providence Day (22-9)
Previous ranking: No. 4
The Chargers have won six straight games since returning from New York’s Big Apple Invitational and are clicking on all cylinders as they are averaging 83 points and allowing just 46 per game during their six-game win streak. The Chargers most recently dominated Covenant Day 87-54 behind their big three of Devon Dotson (26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists), Isaac Suffren (20 points) and Trey Wertz (22 points). Dotson recently became Providence Day’s all-time leading scorer, joining coach Brian Field, who recently became the program’s all-time winningest coach, with significant milestones.
5. Rocky River (17-4)
Previous ranking: No. 5
The Ravens have won six games in a row, including getting past rival Butler 69-68 on Jan. 25. Since they have blown out Hickory Ridge (79-44 on Jan. 26) and East Meck (95-56 on Jan. 31). Most recently, the high-flying Ravens blasted Porter Ridge in a 102-76 win. As usual, sophomore star Jaden Springer led the way, scoring 30 points and adding 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Darlinstone Dunbar (14 points eight rebounds) and freshman Khalil Brantley (13 points and career-high seven assists) also played well.
6. Charlotte Christian (20-8)
Previous ranking: No. 6
The Knights have dropped two of three, but reached the 20-win mark for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons. The Knights have some huge wins under their belts including beating Providence Day and most recently a three-overtime thriller over Cannon. In that win, Paul Hudson led five double-digit scorers with 15 points. The following day, the Knights lost 78-66, but they can wrap up a share of the conference title with wins over Charlotte Latin and Covenant Day, the two remaining regular season games on their schedule.
7. Ardrey Kell (18-4)
Previous ranking: No. 7
The Knights have reeled off five straight wins and remain in the hunt for the So. Meck 7 conference title, although they sit two games back of Olympic. Still, the Knights have been very impressive of late, allowing just 45.6 points per game during their recent streak. Most recently, they defeated Berry 55-48 on Feb. 2 behind 18 points from Kam Flynn and 17 points and seven rebounds from David Kasanganay. They have a huge test with Olympic on Feb. 6, after Matthews-Mint Weekly’s press deadline.
Dropped out: Charlotte Catholic (9-3)
Also receiving votes: Country Day (12-7), Myers Park (11-4)