Note: All records are through Jan. 7
1. Independence (14-1)
Previous ranking: No. 1
The more the competition ramps up, the more the Patriots continue to win and impress. Andra’ McGee, double-double machine Matt Smith and do-it-all senior Jamarius Burton have led the way, but Independence is getting big contributions every night from a number of guys, as well. In recent wins over Garinger (69-30 on Jan. 5) Smith’s 16 points led 10 Patriot scorers. Burton (27 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) led the way the following day in a 71-62 over RJ Reynolds. Big tests loom this week with Rocky River and Myers Park.
2. Carmel Christian (18-2)
Previous ranking: No. 2
Carmel Christian coach Byron Dinkins recently won his 200th career game, but none of them have been bigger than a Jan. 6 win over Greensboro Day. The Bengals entered the game ranked No. 20 in the nation according to Maxpreps.com, but The Cougars jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Myles Pierre led the way with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists and made all eight of his free throw attempts in the 51-46 win.
3. Butler (13-2)
Previous ranking: No. 3
Since losing two of three games in mid-December, the Bulldogs have looked much more like the state title contender we all thought they were entering this season and less like a team needing to iron out the kinks as they’ve now won seven straight games. DJ Little (18.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists) and Gerrale Gates (14.2 points, 7.7 rebounds) continue to be the catalysts, but Raquan Brown, Bashir Muhammad and Jalen Gibson lead a group of guys who gives the Bulldogs what they need on a nightly basis.
4. Providence Day (14-7)
Previous ranking: No. 3
The Chargers have lost two in a row and three of their past four games, which is very uncharacteristic for this team over the past several seasons. Although the losses have come to Baltimore’s St. Frances, Rock Hill’s York Prep and Christ School – three regional powers – they must get it together entering conference play where the Chargers have gone 44-2 since the 2012-13 season. They kick off CISAA play against Charlotte Latin and Charlotte Christian this week.
5. Rocky River (11-3)
Previous ranking: No. 6
The Ravens are as hot as anyone despite recently snapping a seven-game win streak with a 57-47 loss to Union, a Kentucky power. Sophomore star Jaden Springer turned even more heads in national recruiting circles with his performance in Kentucky. The Ravens bounced back from their loss to Union with a 109-69 win over Porter Ridge behind 32 points and 13 rebounds from Springer. Jordan Campbell added 23 points and eight assists, and Darlinstone Dunbar had 12 points and 10 rebounds in that win.
6. Charlotte Christian (12-5)
Previous ranking: No. 5
The Knights dropped four of six games, but have looked much better during their recent three-game win streak. Senior Blake Preston and juniors JC Tharrington, Paul Hudson and Sean Bennett are all averaging double figure points on the season, making this a very dangerous team as they enter conference play this week.
7. Ardrey Kell (13-3)
Previous ranking: Not ranked
The Knights return to the Super 7 after giving way to Charlotte Catholic, which had won eight straight before a two-game slide in their holiday tournament. The Knights return to the rankings after winning six of their past seven games – including winning the Ashbrook HoopFest. Ardrey Kell most recently defeated Berry 64-59 on Jan. 6 behind 22 points from Kam Flynn, 18 from Christian Pickens and 13 from Luke Stankavage to remain within a game of the So. Meck 7 lead.
Dropped out: Charlotte Catholic (9-3)
Also receiving votes: Country Day (12-7), Myers Park (11-4)