We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 boys basketball poll this afternoon, and for the first time in six weeks we have a new No. 1 team in the land. To view the complete poll, CLICK HERE.
A few notes and observations about this week's poll:
Mansfield takes over top spot: For the first time in six weeks, there is a new No. 1 team in the land. Mansfield takes over the top spot in our poll following Central Catholic's surprise losses to North Andover and St. John's Prep in five days. The Hornets have but one blemish on their resume -- a loss to No. 12 New Mission in December's Shooting Touch Shootout -- and have quality wins over BC High, Brockton, Taunton, Franklin and Amityville (N.Y.).
Mansfield currently stands unbeaten in the Hockomock League, but three pivotal games are on the horizon -- Milford (Tuesday), followed by rematches with Taunton (Friday) and Franklin (Feb. 12). They currently lead the league in scoring (70 points per game), and sophomore Brendan Hill (14 ppg) has put himself on the short list of contenders for Hockomock Player of the Year.
Rounding out the Top 5 are St. John's Prep (2), Central Catholic (3), Danvers (4) and North Andover (5).
South on the rise: Worcester South made its return to the polls last week after a month-long hiatus, following the Colonels' 18-point thrashing of Wachusett. Last Friday, for the second week in a row, they took down the top team in Central Mass., this time a 67-62 win over powerhouse St. John's of Shrewsbury, in the Colonels' own field house. Senior guard Rod Milton (23.5 points per game) is a lock for ESPN Boston All-State at this point, and has a terrific supporting cast in junior sharpshooter Kasheen Cunningham and sophomore post players Darwin Agyei and Khalil Bryan-Robinson.
Best of the West: Two Western Mass. squads sit in the Top 10 of our poll for the first time in our three-year history. Springfield Putnam slides two spots up to No. 8 this week, as one of two WMass squads still unbeaten alongside Greenfield. Meanwhile Springfield Central -- the defending MIAA Division 1 state champ, and our preseason No. 1 -- moves back into the Top 10 for the first time since week two, at No. 10, following a 56-55 overtime thriller over city rival Sci-Tech.
Notable newcomers, returns: Catholic Memorial makes a return to the poll this week for the first time since getting upset by St. Peter-Marian nearly four weeks ago. The Knights are in at No. 24 following wins over Xaverian and Malden Catholic, and a narrow loss to St. John's Prep, but face a tall task Tuesday night in archrival BC High. The lone debut this week is three-time defending Division 3 Central champ Whitinsville Christian, which makes its first appearance since the final poll 2011-12. The Crusaders scored a 55-51 overtime win over Charlestown last Friday, their first over the Townies since the annual series began in 2010.
Here's how the poll breaks down this week by league affiliation:
Merrimack Valley - 4
Boston City League - 3
Catholic Conference - 3
Hockomock - 3
Bay State - 1
Big Three - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Dual Valley - 1
Inter-High - 1
Mid-Wach A - 1
Middlesex - 1
Northeastern - 1
South Coast - 1
South Shore - 1
Valley League - 1
Valley Wheel - 1