espn boston’s top 25 high school basketball teams

1. Central Catholic (16-1) 1 The Raiders travel across the river to Andover on Thursday night, where the Golden Warriors await in tow. The rubber match of this heated series should be no less than thrilling.
2. St. John’s (Shrewsbury) (13-3) 2 The rematch with St. Bernard’s for Central Mass Conference supremacy goes down Monday in Fitchburg. We don’t expect the Bernardians to go down so lightly this time around.
3. Cambridge (16-0) 3 The Falcons smothered Somerville on Friday by 30 to wrap up the Greater Boston League title and keep the perfect season intact. Now, it’s hurry up and wait for Brockton on Feb. 21.
4. Charlestown (17-1) 4 The Townies’ next big test comes Tuesday night in Roxbury, when the always-formidable Madison Park hosts.
5. New Mission (12-3) 5 Down Kachi Nzerem (hip pointer) and with two starters battling the flu, the Titans put together one of their gutsiest wins of the year Wednesday over Brighton. Nzerem should be back before the City championships.
6. St. John’s Prep (14-1) 6 The Eagles should be the favorite headed into this weekend’s Comcast Tournament, but there are plenty of formidable foes in BC High, Andover and Newton North. It’s also memory lane Wednesday for head coach Sean Connolly, when he faces the program where he first became a legend, Bishop Fenwick.
7. Lynn English (16-1) 9 The Bulldogs have been clicking on fifth gear for the last month and half, but we’ll see what they’re made of Tuesday night when they face the lone team to beat them this season, Salem.
8. Acton-Boxborough (16-2) 7 The Colonials drop a spot after the loss to Lincoln-Sudbury a week ago, but they looked like one of the North’s most complete (if not most fundamental) squads in the win over Westford on Friday.
9. Mansfield (16-2) 10 Fitting that the Hornets, a town over from Foxborough, are on a mid-2000s Patriots-like run through their schedule. They’ll look to extend their win streak to a baker’s dozen Tuesday night against Franklin.
10. Westfield (14-1) 16 The Bombers debut in the top 10 after a thrilling 66-62 win over Northampton on Friday night. Western Mass Division 1 should be an exciting sectional.
11. Andover (12-3) 12 Gut check this week for the Warriors — ho-hum? — who battle two top 10 teams in a span of three days.
12. Westford (15-2) 8 The Grey Ghosts drop four spots following the loss to A-B, but could endanger a lot of defenses later this month if they continue to shoot as well as they do.
13. Northampton (15-2) 11 Can’t drop the Blue Devils too far after the Westfield loss. This is still one of the state’s best trapping defenses.
14. Newton North (14-4) 15 It’s taken two months, but following wins over Brockton and Weymouth last week, the Tigers are finally putting everything together. Freshman Aaron Falzon’s maturation in such a relatively short amount of time is remarkable.
15. Brockton (12-4) 17 The Boxers could come out tomorrow night and blow the doors off New Bedford. Or not. Rinse and repeat for Cambridge next week.
16. Lincoln-Sudbury (15-3) 20 One could make a great case for placing the Warriors higher in this poll, the way Mitch Perez and 7-footer John Swords have stepped up the last few weeks.
17. Brighton (10-2) 13 A poor start doomed the Bengals against New Mission last week at the Tobin Center. But this is a program built for the long haul.
18. Weymouth (15-3) 14 When the Wildcats charge their athletic wings right into the heart of the defense, they’re one of the toughest teams in the South to stall. Such wasn’t the case in the first half against Newton North.
19. Marshfield (13-2) 25 The Rams jump six spots into the top 20 following wins last week over Dennis-Yarmouth (77-75) and Plymouth North (61-47) that put them at 10-0 in the Atlantic Coast League.
20. New Bedford (10-3) 18 It’s been an emotional two weeks for the Whalers off the court, but they battled in a win over Taunton (65-57). Tuesday night’s affair with Brockton is going to be anyone’s guess, though.
21. Whitinsville Christian (14-2) 24 The Crusaders eagerly await Friday, when St. Bernard’s comes to their gym. Bernardians won the first meeting at the buzzer on a John Henault three.
22. Salem (15-2) NR Another program with a great case to be placed higher, the Witches can make it a clean sweep of Lynn English on Tuesday night in a crucial NEC tilt. That’s no small task, though.
23. West Roxbury (11-5) NR The Raiders make their debut this season in the Top 25, and it might be a head-scratcher to some. But consider their five losses (Cambridge by one, BC High, Catholic Memorial, New Mission twice), and their highly-regarded underclass led by freshmen Darien Smith and Mike Rodriguez.
24. West Springfield (12-3) 19 The Terriers drop five spots following their heartbreaking 58-56 loss to Chicopee last week. They can get back on track this week against Minnechaug and Sci-Tech.
25. Watertown (14-3) 21 The Raiders put together their gutsiest win of the season Sunday with a 60-58 thriller over Lexington.

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