Posted: 6:09 pm Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Boys’ hoops: Inside the top 10 

By Jeff Greer

Now that the new year is here and district play is heating up, we’ll take weekly looks at the boys’ hoops top 10s, which are printed every Tuesday in the Post.

The hoops scene has largely maintained the same shape all season, with Lakes emerging as the most surprising climber and Dwyer being the hardest drop (though coach Fred Ross argues his team will be a lot better by February). Everyone else has held court, with Summit Christian and Grandview Prep staying atop the area’s best teams.

Here’s this week’s top 10, which you can also view here. I’ve listed each team’s upcoming games. All tips are 7:30, unless noted.

1. Summit Christian (15-1): at Village (Tue.), at Jupiter Christian (Fri.)
2. Grandview Prep (14-1): vs. Wellington Christian (Thu.), vs. Champagnat Catholic (Fri.)
3. Spanish River (12-2): at Boca (Fri.)
4. Palm Beach Lakes (10-2): at Santaluces (Tue.), at Suncoast (Sat.)
5. St. Andrew’s (12-2): at Inlet Grove (Tue.), vs. Lincoln Park (Fri.)
6. Martin County (15-2): vs. Okeechobee (Tue.), at Vero Beach (Wed.), at Fort Pierce Central (Fri.)
7. Jupiter (12-6): at Atlantic (Wed.), vs. Palm Beach Central (Fri.), at Dwyer (Sat.)
8. John I. Leonard (10-4): at Seminole Ridge (Tue.), vs. Olympic Heights (Thu.)
9. Jensen Beach (14-3): at Fort Pierce Westwood (Wed.), vs. Boynton Beach (Fri.)
10. Suncoast (11-5): vs. Cardinal Newman (Fri.), vs. Palm Beach Lakes (Sat.)
Also considered: Santaluces, Lake Worth Christian, Atlantic, Fort Pierce Central, Dwyer.

Instead of breaking down the entire poll, I’ll take the temperature of area hoops as I see ‘em. We may disagree, so let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. (As always, keep it respectful.)

Stock up

Start with Martin County. The Tigers have won 15 in a row, with their 18-point rout of Jensen Beach serving as the capstone of a streak that started Dec. 1. They’ll have challenges against Fort Pierce Central and Vero Beach in the coming weeks, but it’s been amazing watching them pull so many wins in a row. Last year, Martin County made a region semifinal run. There’s a good chance they could do the same, and maybe more, with the way the Tigers are playing.

Also, Lakes is on the rise after taking two losses before the holiday break to Atlantic and Suncoast. The Rams responded with four wins after the Suncoast loss, including victories against Leonard, Atlantic and Royal Palm, all good Ws. Lakes has Santaluces and Suncoast on the schedule this week, and both games will be tough. I’ll be at Santaluces on Tuesday night to watch the Chiefs (10-4) make their argument for a top-10 spot.

Can’t forget Leonard, which went down to Boca and did work at Spanish River, beating the Sharks 77-73. That’s tough, especially considering how big River’s frontcourt is (6-6, 6-4). The Lancers also beat an experienced Boca team. Leonard should handle Seminole Ridge, Olympic Heights and Park Vista over the next week or so, but Spanish River will visit Greenacres for a must-see rematch on Jan. 27.

Wait ‘n’ see

When Fred Ross talks, people listen. It’s that simple. So when Fred says Dwyer will be a lot better in February than it has been so far, I believe him. The Panthers are young all over the place, aside from their 6-foot-11, UNC-bound center Joel James, who told us last week that he’s embracing his new role as a villain and the area’s most recognizable star. So while James holds court, his teammates are starting to jell. It’ll take time, Ross says, but stay tuned.

Another thing Ross and I talked about was Jupiter, which Ross says is the toughest large-school team in the area. The Warriors lost a 17-point lead against Gardens on Friday and then plunged in overtime. Didn’t expect that. Especially when you look at the numbers: Bobby Hain did 24 and 17 and big fella Grant Pelchen muscled 13 and 16, swatted six shots. If you told coach John Andersen that his two Twin Towers rocked those digits, he’d say Jupiter won. No dice. Perimeter defense and turnovers killed ‘em. Then on Saturday, they took it on the chin against Coral Springs Christian. But I’m holding firm: This team has a lot of talent and can win some postseason games.

Stock falling

I certainly caught the gaudy record Jensen Beach posted when the Falcons were riding high. They put a strangehold on their district with a five-point W over Suncoast last week, but I wanted to see more earlier that week against Martin County. Granted, the Tigers are hot right now, but 18 points? Gotta be more competitive, especially in a rivalry game. Keep an eye on Jensen, though. Stocks fluctuate, and so do high school sports teams.

Remember when Lake Worth Christian shot up the rankings? Well, the Defenders have lost three of four and haven’t done well against challenging opponents this season. Sure, they have 6-6 forward Paul Jones, who is one of the best players in the area, but it’d be nice for them to get a W against a quality opponent.