Nathan Hale (Seattle) might or might not play in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals. The Raiders are 29-0 and ranked No. 1. Does that mean Nathan Hale will finish the season at No. 1? Not necessarily.
If the Raiders play in the DICK’S Nationals and lose, they obviously could end up lower in the final rankings. However, if they don’t play, whoever wins DICK’S could end up No. 1.
Here’s how the argument at No. 1 for various teams breaks down.
Nathan Hale, Seattle
How Nathan Hale could end up No. 1: The Raiders (29-0) have several routes to the top. They could play in DICK’S and win the tournament. They could even go 2-1 in the event and stay No. 1 if the team they lose to in the finals is Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) because the Raiders beat the Warriors earlier this season. Nathan Hale could also win by not going to DICK’S — if Oak Hill wins the title.
The case against Nathan Hale: The Raiders only have two wins against Super 25 teams — Oak Hill and Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) — a thin resume for the No. 1 team. Any team that wins DICK’S will have at least three wins against Super 25 teams and likely more. Choosing not to play in DICK’S could also make the Raiders look soft, given that the Washington state association has cleared the path for them to compete.
La Lumiere, La Porte, Ind.
How La Lumiere could end up No. 1: The Lakers are 26-1 and ranked No. 2. A DICK’S championship would give them four Super 25 wins and one win against Hamilton Height Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.), which spent a lot of time in the Super 25. The Lakers have two players in the McDonald’s All-America Game, so it’s clear they have the talent to be No. 1.
The case against La Lumiere: The Lakers have a narrow loss to Sierra Canyon, while Nathan Hale beat Sierra Canyon.
IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
How IMG could end up No. 1: The Ascenders’ only loss was to Montverde Academy (Fla.). IMG has three wins against teams currently in the Super 25 and three teams that spent time in the Super 25. A win at DICK’S would give them a ridiculous six wins against teams in the Super 25 and would wipe out any memory of the Ascenders’ lone loss to Montverde, which was in the City of Palms in late December.
The case against IMG: The lone loss to Montverde still gives them one more loss than Nathan Hale.
How Memphis East could end up No. 1: The Mustangs (29-3) go on to win their state title, get permission to play in DICK’S and end up winning the event. That would give the Mustangs six wins against Super 25 teams, a very impressive feat.
The case against Memphis East: The Mustangs have three losses. You can discard the one against Montverde Academy because they came back to beat Montverde twice. However, the losses to Sierra Canyon and Hamilton Heights Christian can’t be so easily dismissed.
Bishop Montgomery, Torrance, Calif.
How Bishop Montgomery could end up No. 1: The Knights (27-2) can’t play in the DICK’S, but if they go on to win the state Open Division title, they already have something Nathan Hale doesn’t — a more impressive win against Sierra Canyon. The Knights (27-2) beat Sierra Canyon 70-63 while Nathan Hale escaped with a 67-65 win. The Knights have already beaten two Super 25 teams in Sierra Canyon and Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and a state title would give them four wins against Super 25 opponents.
The case against Bishop Montgomery: Two losses. The first one, to Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) could be argued away as ancient history as it was the team’s opener. However, the loss to Montverde Academy hurts. If Montverde wins the DICK’S, that doesn’t help the argument for Bishop Montgomery and if Montverde doesn’t play well in DICK’S, that doesn’t help either.
Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.
How Findlay Prep could end up No. 1: The Pilots (33-3) could take the title by winning DICK’S. They were missing players in their losses to Nathan Hale and Sierra Canyon and a 3-0 run at DICK’s would give the Pilots five wins against Super 25 teams.
The case against Findlay Prep: Missing players or not, that 76-47 loss to Sierra Canyon at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions really hurts.