Sunrise Christian climbs to No. 5 with two big wins

Photo: Jim Halley, USA TODAY

Sunrise Christian climbs to No. 5 with two big wins

Super 25

Sunrise Christian climbs to No. 5 with two big wins

Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) knocked off two highly ranked teams to rise to No. 5 in the latest Super 25 boys basketball rankings.

The Buffaloes (20-2) rose from No. 19 as they won the St. James Invitational in Hagerstown, Md., this past weekend.

RELATED: Latest Super 25 boys basketball rankings

Blake Hinson had 19 points in a 68-58 defeat of then-No. 4 St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark) in the championship of the St. James Invitational. N’Faly Dante had 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 67-61 win Friday vs. then-No. 5 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in a St. James Invitational semifinal. Dante also had 12 points and four blocks in an 86-30 defeat of Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) in the St. James Invitational.

A key matchup in the tournament was Dante vs. Findlay Prep’s 7-3 big man, Bol Bol. The 7-foot Dante is only a sophomore, but he outscored and outrebounded Bol and had a key dunk at the end of the game.

“I wanted to make him work for everything,” Dante said.

Sunrise Christian coach Luke Barnwell said Dante adjusted quickly to playing the No. 1-ranked 2018 center.

RELATED: St. Benedict’s Prep squeezes past St. James

“He was excited about it and I think we maybe oversold it a little bit because his first two shots he was hesitant, but I think he settled in,” Barnwell said. “I think he impacted the game as much, if not more than Bol did, and he’s three years younger. His motor is constant.”

The Buffaloes were already in the Super 25 rankings because they defeated Prolific Prep-Napa Christian (Napa, Calif.) and defending Super 25 champion La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) in late November and early December. However, they also had two losses to unranked teams: losing to Victory Rock Prep (Bradenton, Fla.) and South Garland (Garland, Texas), but both of those were without point guard Isaiah Bujdoso, who is a Loyola Chicago commit.

“I think we are as good as anybody right now,” Barnwell said. “Our starting point guard (Bujdoso) was out for six weeks and without him, we struggled to score.”

The Buffaloes will get another big test this week as they take on No. 2-ranked Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Neb., on Saturday.

Oak Hill improved to 35-0 last week, despite a scare. The Warriors won two games in the Dr. Pepper 10 Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., but had to come from being 27 points down to defeat McCallie School (Chattanooga) 79-73 as Keldon Johnson had 29 points.

Findlay Prep, which has three wins over current Super 25 teams, only fell one spot with the loss. St. Benedict’s Prep, which has no wins over current Super 25 teams, dropped to No. 9 with its first loss.

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Sunrise Christian climbs to No. 5 with two big wins
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