Well, it’s official: Lone Peak’s boys’ basketball program is now ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps.com.
The Knights, at 7-0, topped the Xcellent 25 National Basketball Rankings Monday morning after Simeon Career Academy, the former No. 1 team in the country, lost to DeSoto (Texas) last Thursday 67-57. According to the rankings, it is the first time any Utah high school has been ranked No. 1 overall in the Xcellent 25 nationally in basketball, baseball or football.
Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said his Knights are proud to carry the flag for Utah basketball on a national level.
“We certainly feel that,” he said Thursday. “It’s not so much pressure as we’re proud to be able to represent schools and the state. There is good basketball here.”
Now that the No. 1 team in America resides in Highland, Utah, it won’t have to wait long to have its first thorough test as top dog. The Knights are going to be at the 40th State Farm City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., starting Wednesday and are scheduled to face Callaway High School out of Jackson, Miss. Callaway won the Mississippi Class 5A title in 2011 and has a couple of star athletes in 6-foot-7 forward TreShawn Bolden and 6-foot-4 guard Malik Newman.
If the Knights advance past Callaway Wednesday evening, they’ll face the winner of Chester (Pa)-Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) Thursday at 3:15 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. Chester is currently riding a 60-game win streak after two victories over the weekend.
Lone Peak junior guard T.J. Haws addressed the spike in the level of talent his Knights will face in Florida this week, but said the team does not prepare any different for a national powerhouse than it does a preseason opponent in Utah.
“I’m very confident going into that tournament with the guys that we have,” he said. “If we play our game, we’re going to do really well.”
The City of Palms Classic will feature the top five teams ranked in the MaxPreps.com Xcellent 25 this week: No. 1 Lone Peak, No. 2 Long Beach Poly (Calif.), No. 3 Chester (Pa.), No. 4 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) and No. 5 Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.). The tournament will also showcase Montverde Academy (Fla.), a team that features prep stars Dakari Johnson, Kasey Hill and Justin Bibbs.
While this could be the most stacked tournament Lone Peak has competed in to date, Lewis said the Knights worry about themselves going into each and every game, no matter the opponent.
“Our focus is always on us,” he said.