Central, Dorchester return to boys hoop poll

We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 boys basketball poll this afternoon. To see the full poll, CLICK HERE.

(NOTE: Tuesday's results were not reflected in this week's poll)

A few notes and observations:

Returns for Springfield Central, Dorchester: After a strong two-game swing at last weekend's Hoophall Classic, capped by outstanding performances from big men Kamari Robinson and Chris Baldwin in wins over West Springfield and Manchester (Conn.), Springfield Central is back in the poll after falling all the way out a month ago. The Golden Eagles were our preseason No. 1 in the land, coming off their first Division 1 state championship since 1991 last March, but were sluggish out of the gates, starting the season 2-2. Since then, they've reeled off six straight, and have looked every bit the team that was much-hyped in the preseason.

Dorchester is also making a return to the polls this week, for the first time in nearly a month. The Bears upset Madison Park on Dec. 21, and came into the polls soon after to make it a record six Boston City League teams in the poll. But that stint was short-lived, dropping back out following losses to Melrose and Cambridge. The Bears face East Boston tomorrow night in what should be the most-anticipated Boston City League tilt of the week.

Debuts for Melrose, St. Bernard's: Three teams are making their season debuts -- one from Eastern Mass. (Melrose) and one from Central Mass. (St. Bernard's). Melrose is making a strong case in the strength of schedule department; the Warriors put together solid 15-point wins this season over both Wakefield and Dorchester. St. Bernard's is coming off a solid Thursday night win over Whitinsville Christian, which itself beat St. Peter-Marian by 15 earlier in the week. The Bernardians' lone blemishes on the season are losses to St. John's of Shrewsbury and the aforementioned SPM.

With St. John's (17) and SPM (23) also in this week's poll, that makes a record-tying three Central Mass. Conference teams in the poll this week. Last season, Holy Name, SPM and St. John's all saw action in the poll at once.

Putnam makes the leap: At the midway point of the season, Springfield Putnam has separated itself as the top team in Western Mass., the latest example a 16-point win over Sci-Tech at the Hoophall Classic. The Beavers jumped up nine spots, to No. 13, as a result of the win. Putnan faces West Springfield on Thursday night in a battle of two of the top squads in the region; West Side fell five spots this week to No. 21, following its loss to Central at the Hoophall.

Here's how the poll breaks down this week by league affiliation:

Boston City League - 4

Merrimack Valley - 4

Central Mass. Conference - 3

Catholic Conference - 2

Hockomock - 2

Middlesex - 2

Valley Wheel - 2

Bay State - 1

Big Three - 1

Mid-Wach A - 1

Northeastern - 1

Valley League - 1

South Coast - 1