Top teams face looming tests

Editor's note: The ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings are compiled by Christopher Lawlor, Ronnie Flores, Ryan Canner-O'Mealy and Doug Huff. They will be released each Tuesday throughout the season.

Click here for regional rankings.

The postseason is on the horizon for teams in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 boys' basketball rankings. Florida and Washington tip off the playoffs with district tournaments next week while other states come aboard in the coming weeks.

The power teams from the ESPN RISE rankings will be tested this week as top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) hosts No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) Saturday (ESPNU, midnight ET). No. 5 St. Patrick gets the first crack at St. Benedict's on Wednesday in a highly anticipated game. No. 10 Westchester (Los Angeles) and No. 14 Fairfax (Los Angeles) tangle for the second time this season. Two schools could meet twice more in the postseason.

Texas schools, No. 6 Madison (San Antonio) and No. 8 Strake Jesuit (Houston), continue their winning ways. The biggest mover and shaker this week is No. 24 Thornton (Harvey, Ill.), which leaps 19 spots. Thornton is Illinois' top-ranked Class 4A team and carries a 20-game win streak into the week.

The most intriguing matchup amongst the ESPN RISE teams will be No. 11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and No. 25 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) on Saturday (ESPNU, 10 p.m. ET). The game will be a contrast in styles, with DLS employing a Princeton-like offense and the Dons unleashing a free-wheeling approach. DLS Coach Frank Allocco, one of the brightest minds in the game, won't look past Dominguez.

In the Midwest, No. 13 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) plays Arthur Hill (Saginaw) Saturday. No. 28 Holmes (Covington, Ky.) is rounding into form after beating Scott County (Georgetown). Both teams are favorites to reach Kentucky's Sweet Sixteen State Tournament in March.

So expect a new look among the Top 10 team in the rankings next week after the dust settles.

Three-point play
Game Ball: Center Josh Smith of Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) had a monster week, scoring 101 points in three games, earning him player of the week honors. Smith, a 6-9 junior, had 43 points and 21 rebounds in a 62-60 win over Kentridge (Kent). He also scored 18 points against Auburn and began the week with 40 points against Jefferson (Auburn). Smith, an ESPNU Super 60 player, is averaging a Seattle-area best 27.1 points per game. He is considered one of the top players in the Class of 2010.

Games of the week: New Jersey basketball supremacy will be decided Wednesday at the Hoop Group Showcase Series when No. 5 St. Patrick (Elizabeth) meets No. 3 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.) at the Rutgers Athletic Center (7:30 p.m. ET) in Piscataway. Last year St. Benedict's won, 68-62, halting a five-game losing skein in the all-time series. St. Patrick is energized with the addition of Kyree Irving, who became eligible three weeks ago after sitting out 30 days under state transfer guidelines. St. Benedict's week gets more hectic Saturday when it travels to top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) at the Nike Extravaganza. The game tips midnight ET on ESPNU.

The 2009 Nike Extravaganza tips off Friday for a two-day run at Mater Dei's Meruelo Center with five games (four of which are girls) at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday's morning session serves up five games beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

However it's the evening session that will pack the gymnasium. The lineup includes No. 10 Westchester (Los Angeles)-Rainier Beach (Seattle); No. 14 Fairfax (Los Angeles)-Whitney Young (Chicago); No. 25 Dominguez (Compton, Calif.)-No. 11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and No. 1 Mater Dei-No. 3 St. Benedict's. The latter two games will be shown on ESPNU.

Award winners: Ralph Tasker, most notably of Hobbs High in New Mexico, is the recipient of the 2009 Morgan Wootten Award: For Lifetime Achievement in Coaching High School Basketball. The award honors a boys' basketball coach who has achieved extraordinary results in and made a significant contribution to the game of basketball at the high school level. Wootten will present the award in March at the McDonald's High School All-America Game. Tasker passed away in 1999 at the age of 80.

"Ralph was a true pioneer of the game at the high school level and his lasting impact of the thousands of lives he touched over his 53 years will never be forgotten," Wootten said.

Tasker coached for 53 seasons at Sulphur Springs (Ohio), Lovington (N.M.) and Hobbs, where he compiled a 1,122-291 record.. His teams qualified for postseason play 48 times, winning 12 state championships. He was a two-time National High School Coach of the Year and was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Dorothy Gaters of Marshall (Chicago) is the girls' award recipient, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday.

Records are through Feb. 1.

Dropped out: No. 40 Mountain State Academy (Beckley, W.Va.); No. 42 Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.); and No. 48 Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.); and No. 49 Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.).