High school basketball: Sierra Canyon junior Amari Bailey scores 35 in 70-54 win over short-handed Windward - OFFICIAL
High school basketball: Sierra Canyon junior Amari Bailey scores 35 in 70-54 win over short-handed Windward
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) extended its league win streak to 58 games Tuesday night, defeating Windward (Los Angeles) 70-54 in a battle of short-handed California powers. Multiple scratches put a damper on the anticipated conference battle as Chance Westry and Shy Odom joined an injured Bronny James on the bench while Windward was without star duo Dylan Andrews and Kijani Wright.

UCLA commit Amari Bailey made up for the missing pieces in a big way, finishing with a game-high 35 in the lopsided victory that saw eight player suit up for Sierra Canyon (6-0).

The five-star junior helped the Trailblazers overcome a slow start, scoring the first 14 points of the contest for Sierra Canyon, including all nine first-quarter points for his side.
Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon
Photo by Nick Koza
Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon
After trailing by one heading to the second quarter, Sierra Canyon methodically stretched out its advantage with a 17-4 second quarter and 24-15 third quarter to lead 50-29 heading into the final frame.

Sierra Canyon returns to action on Friday night as they travel to Crossroads (Santa Monica).

Windward (7-3), which was paced by a team-high 21 points from Brandon Richard, faces Brentwood School (Los Angeles) on Friday.
Brandon Richard, Windward
Photo by Nick Koza
Brandon Richard, Windward
Sierra Canyon's Bronny James motions to his teammates on the court.
Photo by Nick Koza
Sierra Canyon's Bronny James motions to his teammates on the court.

High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman - OFFICIAL
High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman
Los Gatos (Calif.) senior Adam Garwood doesn't hide it. He just doesn't talk about it much. He doesn't need to.

The chiseled 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back and linebacker proudly wears No. 42 on his black and orange jersey and a small decal of the same number with an American flag that's pasted on his helmet.

It's to honor his uncle, Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety who — in the prime of his career — enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman was only 27.

Garwood was a baby at the time of his uncle's death but has worn Tillman's retired Arizona State number since starting youth football at age 8.

"I just try to represent and carry on his legacy," Garwood said. "He's the role model. He's everything."

By all accounts and every measure, Garwood has represented Tillman impeccably.

The third-year starter leads California's Central Coast Section in rushing (467 yards), yards per carry (13.7) and rushing touchdowns (10) for the section's third-ranked team during an abbreviated spring season due to the pandemic. The Wildcats (3-0) play their biggest game of the season Thursday at fifth-ranked Wilcox (Santa Clara).

His coach Mark Krail calls him the team's heartbeat for an unrelenting work ethic, authentic appreciation of teammates and desire to always be better.
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
"He's for sure the most dedicated player I've ever met," said junior linebacker Jake Ripp, a 6-3, 210-pound FBS prospect who Friday had 19 tackles. "He's a great leader. Very intense. He definitely leads by example."

Last week after practice, Krail was heading home but happened to glance out at the field. There was Garwood doing gassers. By himself. Again.

"He does them all the time," Ripp said. "Some of us will join him but he always outlasts us."

Said Krail: "He's always the last guy off the field. It's just him wanting to be great. He's the heart and soul of the team, but you'll never hear it from him."

Garwood doesn't talk much about his own accomplishments and rarely speaks about Tillman. Even though he plays the same positions, he didn't study Tillman's game film at Leland (San Jose, Calif.), Arizona State or with the Arizona Cardinals.

"Adam doesn't watch much," said his father Alex Garwood. "He's more of a doer."

A star football player himself at Leland and later at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Alex Garwood earned All-American and conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as a linebacker.

He and his wife Christine, a soccer player and competitive dancer, were high school sweethearts at Leland and Christine's sister Marie married Tillman. The four were extremely tight.

When Tillman was killed, Alex quit his day job as a Silicon Valley software salesman and co-founded the Pat Tillman Foundation, which according to its website was "born overnight in the wake of tremendous tragedy, and with determination to honor a man whose passion for life was contagious."

The foundation has raised more than $18 million to "unite and empower remarkable military service members, veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self."
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
Alex and Christine never pushed Tillman as a role model for Adam or their two other sons — Ryan, now 20, or Scott, 15. 

"How could they live up to that? How could anyone?" Alex said. "Obviously, we've struggled with Pat's passing. He was just an incredible human being and everything you've ever heard about him, he was better than that. He was the best conversationalist I ever met. Best friend. Simply, an awesome, awesome person."

With dad working daily on the foundation for four years — he's now back to selling software — Tillman's life was prominent among the boys. His traits and actions naturally permeated and penetrated.

Adam Garwood told Ripp about running in one of the foundation's 4.2-mile "Pat's Run," held annually in Tempe (Ariz.).

"He said he ran the entire way with a Navy Seal, and how cool he thought that was," Ripp said. "He told me all about that guy."

Alex Garwood said Tillman's influence was more off the field for his son than on the field. Offerings of hard work, being a good teammate and an example for others. Being well-rounded, interested, resilient, true to yourself and engaged. 

Tillman left behind a blue print to live. Not to mention a Purple Heart. And a Silver Star.

"In that way Pat never stops giving back," Alex Garwood said. "But Pat wasn't perfect and we don't hold him up as a Norse God. We just raised our sons to be the very best versions of who they are. And they have. And we're so grateful for that."

Turns out. Adam shares a lot in common with his uncle on the field as well.

Tillman was considered too small growing up to play football. Instead, he was a two-way terror at Leland, rushing for 34 touchdowns as a senior in addition to leading the team in tackles and to the school's first section title in 1993.

"He wasn't about glory," a former Tillman teammate Rudy Perez told the San Jose Mercury News in 2012. "He was the MVP of the championship game, but he never took the credit."

At 165 pounds, Adam Garwood was well undersized as a junior, but put up a team-best 1,260 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns to go along with 50 tackles and four fumble recoveries. He led the Wildcats to the program's 13th CCS title.

Since then, he's added 20 pounds of muscle, and utilizing a super speed treadmill at home, he's lowered his 40-yard time to 4.47 seconds while upping his top-end treadmill speed to 22 mph. Adam is getting FCS Division I recruiting looks, including Cal Poly, his dad's alma mater.

"Had he played in the fall, I think he'd have many more opportunities," Krail said. "He didn't complain about the time off or bemoan the pandemic. He made the most of the time away. He's considerably bigger and faster. Whoever gets him will be very pleased."

Not only for his talent or speed, Krail said, but also the impassioned, selfless intangibles that mirrors Tillman. Adam led the team in offseason workouts, for instance, and after every touchdown, he truly celebrates with the offensive linemen who paved the way. It's not simply a ritual.
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
File photo by Scott Dinn
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
"He'll sprint back to us and really let each of us know we did a great job," Ripp said. "He'll get to us as fast as he got in the end zone. And if you ask him how many touchdowns he's scored and it's always one less than he actually has."

Said Adam: "I definitely don't consider myself the heart and soul of the team. Every single person plays a role, senior or sophomore, two-way player or reserve. Every snap, 11 players have to do their job."

The entire Garwood family embraces that "all-for-one, one-for-all" football culture. Ryan, who graduated from Los Gatos in 2019, introduced it to Adam. And now, Adam displays it to Scott, who stars on the freshman team. The brothers are extremely close.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, we're a football family," Alex Garwood said.

Adam Garwood definitely shares that unbridled passion of football with his uncle. He's played with "intensity and fire" since he was 8, said Alex Garwood. It's the only area his dad would compare him to Tillman.

"Pat played like every play was his last," said Alex Garwood, who graduated from Leland in 1990, four years before Tillman. "He flew around and figured out a way to make a tackle or play. Adam does that, too."

And he does it with a joy that brings tears to his father's eyes. Before the team's first game this season, Adam led the team in warm-ups, then guided them to the sidelines, where he flailed his fists and roared to the skies, unleashing 15 months of pent up fury from no competition. 

Or perhaps he channeled his uncle's favorite quote: "To err on the side of passion is human and right and the only way I'll live."

Or perhaps he just expressed the glee of playing the game he loves with his best friends.

"Football means everything to me," Adam Garwood said. "The relationship you build with teammates is hard to describe. It's a feeling that only we share, under the lights. It's beautiful."
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.
Courtesy of Garwood family
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.

High school basketball rankings: Montverde Academy holds at No. 1 in Way-Too-Early 2021-22 OFFICIAL Top 25 - OFFICIAL
High school basketball rankings: Montverde Academy holds at No. 1 in Way-Too-Early 2021-22 MaxPreps Top 25
Looking into the crystal ball toward the next high school basketball season, two teams clearly sit above the rest: Montverde Academy and IMG Academy. The two-time defending national champion Eagles and 2018-19 national champion Asceenders each return elite talent to their rosters that should separate them from the pack to start the year.

Since Kevin Boyle's arrival prior to the 2011-12 season, Montverde has a 93.9 win percentage and produced NBA players R.J. Barrett, D'Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons as well as projected lottery picks Scottie Barnes of Florida State, Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State and Moses Moody of Arkansas.

Montverde has won MaxPreps National Championships in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020, and the Eagles' dominance should continue past this season where they outscored opponents by an averaged of 25.8 points and finished 11-1 against MaxPreps Top 25 teams. The program has won 49 of its past 50 games has Top 10 finishes each year for the past decade.

The Eagles return MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Jalen Duren along with top 100 Class of 2022 prospects Jalen Hood-Schifino, Malik Reneau, Dariq Whitehead and Justice Williams. The formidable Eagles rotation is also certain to be bolstered with key additions in the offseason.

The second-ranked Ascenders are expected to return top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Jaden Bradley, Eric Dailey, Jett Howard and Jarace Walker, all MaxPreps Junior-All-Americans.

The elite high school basketball landscape is always tough to define as the offseason transfer season can dramatically shift fortunes quickly. Today, we take a look ahead anyway to get people thinking about what will, hopefully, be a return to a "normal" schedule across the country.

While plenty is certain to change over the summer, here's an early look at what the Way-Too-Early 2021-22 MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
Montverde Academy looks to start the 2021-22 season where it ended the recently finished year - at No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
Photo by Pete Wright
Montverde Academy looks to start the 2021-22 season where it ended the recently finished year - at No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings.
1. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Coach: Kevin Boyle
2020-21 resume: (25-0) No. 1 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jalen Duren (6-10, Sr., C), Jalen Hood-Schifino (6-4, Sr., G), Malik Reneau (6-8, Sr., F), Dariq Whitehead (6-5, Sr., W/G), Justice Williams (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Captured their second consecutive national championship and third in the past four seasons in 2020-21. The Eagles will again be strong contenders next season behind MaxPreps National Junior of the Year Duren and All-American Whitehead.

Coach: Sean McAloon
2020-21 resume: (21-3) No. 5 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Noah Batchelor (6-6, Sr., W), Jaden Bradley (6-2, Sr., G), Eric Dailey (6-7, Sr., F), Anthony Gilkes (6-6, So., G), Jett Howard (6-4, Sr., G), Jarace Walker (6-8, Sr., W), Gus Yalden (6-8, Jr., F/C).
Outlook: The Ascenders have all the pieces on paper to compete for their second national title in the past four years next season behind a strong returning core that includes Junior MaxPreps All-Americans Bradley, Dailey, Howard and Walker.

3. Milton (Ga.)
Coach: Allen Whitehart
2020-21 resume: (29-3) No. 7 in final Top 25
Notable losses: Broc Bidwell
Notable returners: Kendall Campbell (6-7, Sr., W/F), Kanaan Carlyle (6-2, Jr., G), Lebbeus Overton (6-5, Jr., F), Bruce Thornton (6-2, Sr., G), Cam Walker (6-3, Sr., W)
Outlook: After capturing their first state championship since 2012 and earning a first GEICO Nationals berth, the Eagles return virtually all significant pieces from 2020-21 headlined by Campbell, Carlyle and Ohio State commit Thornton.

Coach: Mike Jones
2020-21 resume: (9-0) No. 4 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Jacoi Hutchinson (6-2, Jr., G), Jason Moore (6-6, Jr., W), Rodney Rice Jr. (6-4, Sr., G), Jerrell Roberson (6-8, Sr., W/F) AJ Swinton (6-6, So., W/F), Tyrell Ward (6-5, Sr., W), Ben Woodward (6-3, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Stags secured their fourth consecutive Top 10 finish in the final MaxPreps Top 25 after completing an abbreviated season unbeaten. Although DeMatha loses MaxPreps Maryland Player of the Year Hawkins to graduation, second team MaxPreps Junior All-American Ward headlines a strong returning cast.

Coach: Mark Phelps
2020-21 Resume: (31-4) No. 10 in final Top 25
Notable losses: Nathan Bittle, Fallou Cisse
Notable returners: Adem Bona (6-10, F/C), Mouhamed Gueye (7-0, Sr., F/C), Kamari Lands (6-8, Sr., W), Stefan Todorovic (6-7, Sr., G), Milos Uzan (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Coming off back-to-back top 10 finishes, the Crew are expected to return the majority of their rotation.

Coach: Rick Brunson
2020-21 resume: (13-0) No. 9 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Aaron Bradshaw (7-0, Jr., C), Rasheer Fleming (6-8, Sr., F), Desear Haskins (6-5, Jr. F/C), Cian Medley (5-10, Jr., G), Cornelius Robinson (6-1, Jr., G), D.J. Wagner (6-3, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Panthers have gone 42-1 over their past two seasons with consecutive Top 25 finishes. They havne't had an opportunity to cap their season with a Tournament of Champions title as postseason play has been canceled in each of the last two years. Next year, the public school will be favorites to win their first crown since 2000 behind top-ranked Class of 2023 prospect Wagner.

Coach: Steve Smith
2020-21 Resume: (20-9) No. 24 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Tybo Bailey (6-2, So., G), Xavier Brown (6-1, Sr., G), Caleb Foster (6-4, So., G), Justin McBride (6-7, So., W), Luke McEldon (6-9, So., F), Jalen Reed (6-8, Sr., F), M.J. Rice (6-5, Sr., W/G)
Outlook: Despite suffering the program's most losses since the 1978-79 season, the Warriors snuck into the final Top 25 with a play-in victory at GEICO Nationals. A strong returning core is expected to be led by MaxPreps Junior All-American selection Rice and Sophomore All-American Foster.

Coach: Kevin Lawson
2020-21 resume: (26-2) No. 20 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Rylan Griffen (6-5, Sr., G), Tre Howell (6-0, Sr., G), Cason Wallace (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: Following the program's first state semifinals appearance since 1987, the Eagles are early favorites to capture their first state title next season behind Co-District 7-6A MVP's Wallace and Griffen.

Coach: Patrick Holmes
2020-21 resume: (7-10) GEICO Nationals participant
Notable returners: Hunter Duncan (6-1, Jr., G), Jeremy Fears Jr. (6-1, Jr., G), Vincent Iwuchukwu (7-0, Sr., C), Kebba Njie (6-9, Sr., F), J.J. Starling (6-2, Sr., G), Chisom Okpara (6-7, Sr., W)
Outlook: A disappointing 2020-21 season saw the Lakers finish with a sub-.500 record, but a strong returning cast is expected to return this program to national prominence. Top returners include Top 60 Class of 2022 prospects Starling and Iwuchukwu along with MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Fears.

Coach: Andre Chevalier
2020-21 resume: Spring season in progress
Notable losses: Ryan Grande
Notable returners: Amari Bailey (6-4. Sr., G), Bronny James (6-3, Jr., G), Ramel Lloyd Jr. (6-6, Sr., G), Shy Odom (6-6, Sr., W/F) , Chance Westry (6-6, Sr., G)
Outlook: It is hard to predict how the Trailblazers current spring season will play out, but the high school basketball calendar should return to normal next season in the Golden State. Top 5 Class of 2022 prospect Bailey is expected to be the catalyst, while plenty of intrigue will surround James' return to the court after a knee injury.

Coach: Luke Barnwell
2020-21 resume: (21-4) No. 3 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Gradey Dick (6-7, Sr., W/F), Willie Lightfoot (6-0, Sr., G)
Outlook: Expect the Buffaloes to reload in the offseason after graduating four starters. The Sunflower State powerhouse has been a constant on the national prep scene in recent seasons and made their first GEICO Nationals title game appearance last season.

Coach: David Peavy
2020-21 resume: (29-1) No. 6 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Cameron Barnes (6-11, Jr., C), Aric Demings (6-0, Jr., G), C.J. Ford (6-1, Sr., G), Ronald Holland (6-8, Jr., F), Davion Sykes (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: The Panthers lose three of their top four scorers from last season, but MaxPreps 2020-21 National Coach of the Year Peavy has proven his ability to overcome those losses as the program has graduated its top scorer each of the previous two seasons.

Coach: Paul Peterson
2020-21 resume: (18-7) No. 12 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Roddy Gayle (6-5, Sr., G/W), Richard Isaacs (6-3, Sr., G), Keba Keita (6-9, Sr. C)
Outlook: The Tigers have some major holes to fill with the loss of three starters headlined by MaxPreps Utah Player of the Year Hickman. Top 50 Class of 2022 prospects Gayle and Isaacs are the cornerstones for Wasatch to retool its roster.

Coach: Nicholas Myles
2020-21 resume: (15-1) Baltimore Catholic League finalist
Notable returners: Daquan Davis (6-1, So., G), Cortez Johnson (6-5, Sr., G), Jahnathan Lamothe (6-4, Jr., G), Derik Queen (6-7, So., F)
Outlook: Finished their 2020-21 campaign almost unbeatean, losing their perfect mark in the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship game. MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year Queen headlines a talented returning core that includes Top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Lamothe.

Coach: Cilk McSweeney
2020-21 resume: (17-7) FHSAA Class 3A state champions
Notable losses: Dylan Canoville
Notable returners: Marvel Allen (6-5, Jr. G), Carl Cherenfant (6-5, Jr., G), Gregg Glenn (6-8, Sr., W/F), Taylor Hendricks (6-10, Sr., F/C), Tyler Hendricks (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: Reigning state champions return each of their top four scorers highlighted by MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Allen and talented post presences Glenn and Hendricks.

Coach: Jeff McInnis
2020-21 resume: (28-3) No. 15 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Robert Dillingham (6-1, Jr., G), Mekhi Grant (6-8, Jr., F), Antonio Hamlin (6-2, Sr., G), A.J Smith (6-3, Sr., G)
Outlook: The Goats look to build on their first national Top 25 finish behind top 10 Class of 2023 prospect Dillingham. Former NBA journeyman Jeff McInnis looks to continue to ascension of the Combine Academy basketball program.

Coach: David Green
2020-21 resume: (31-0) UIL Class 5A state champions
Notable losses: Kendris Henry
Notable returners: Terrance Arceneaux (6-7, So., W), Kayde Dotson (6-1, So., G), Clarence Payia (6-4, So., G/W), Trealyn Porchia (6-5, Jr., W), Wesley Yates III (6-4, Jr., G)
Outlook: This group loses one role player off its unbeaten state championship run. Leading scorer Arceneaux hit buzzer beaters at the end of regulation and overtime to help bring home the school's first high school basketball state championship last season.

 Coach: Tyrone Slaughter
2020-21 resume: (15-1)
Notable losses: Grant Newell, Jaehshon Thomas
Notable returners: Xavier Amos (6-8, Sr., F), A.J. Casey (6-8, Sr., F), Dalen Davis (5-11, Jr., G), Marcus Overstreet (6-7, Sr., F), Marcus Pigram (6-3, Sr., G), Jordan Streeter (6-5, Sr., W)
Outlook: The Dolphins have all the pieces to return to the national rankings for the first time since their 2013-14 campaign next season behind five-star Class of 2022 prospect Casey.

Coach: John Buck
2020-21 resume: (3-0)
Notable returners: Jaxon Koroll (6-11,Jr., C), Jayden Pierre (6-2, Sr., G), Jayden Reid (5-9, Sr., G)
Outlook: The Crusaders had one of the most abbreviated seasons playing three games, including two games against the same opponent. Looking ahead to next season, the Big Apple power looks to build around talented returning guards Pierre and Reid.

Coach: Glenn Farello
2020-21 resume: (7-4) No. 21 in final Top 25
Notable returners: Ben Hammond (5-11, So., G), Darren Harris (6-5, So., G/W), DeShawn Harris-Smith (6-4, Jr., G) Knasir McDaniel (6-0, Sr., G), Kris Mickens (6-5, Sr., G/W)
Outlook: Despite losing MaxPreps Virginia Player of the Year Keels to graduation, the Panthers return a strong group highlighted by top 100 Class of 2022 prospect McDaniel and top 50 Class of 2023 prospect Harris-Smith.

Coach: Rick Zych
2020-21 resume: (22-1) KSHSAA Class 4A state champions
Notable losses: Harrison Braudis
Notable returners: Christian Bowen-Webb (6-2, Sr., G), Xavier Hall (6-0, Sr., G), Taj Manning (6-6, Sr., F), Mark Mitchell (6-8, Sr., W/F), Aiden Wing (6-4, Jr., G)
Outlook: First team all-state performers Manning and Mitchell lead the heavy favorites to capture their fifth state title since 2015-16 next season.

Coach: Greg Phillips
2020-21 resume: (25-6) GHSA Class 7A state finalist
Notable losses: Ja'Ron Ford, Dara Olonade
Notable returnes: Malique Ewin (6-10, Sr., F/C), Jermahri Hill (6-4, Sr., G), Destin Logan (6-4, Sr., G), Jameel Rideout (6-2, Sr., G)
Outlook: After advancing to the state championship game last season, the Patriots are expected to be strong contenders to contend for their first state crown since 2001 next season behind a talented incoming senior classification.

Coach: Ed Gipson
2020-21 resume: (28-2) No. 2 in final Top 25
Notable returners: A.J. Storr (6-5, Sr., G), Sadraque Nganga (6-9, Sr., F)
Outlook: This program made a major statement last season, ascending to No. 2 in the national rankings and presenting national champion Montverde Academy with its stiffest test at GEICO Nationals. Despite losing the bulk of its production, AZ Compass Prep remains a budding prep powerhouse on the rise.

Coach: Corey Tucker
2020-21 resume: (9-3)
Notable losses: None
Notable returners: Marlon Barnes Jr. (6-6, Jr., G/W), Emoni Bates (6-9, Sr., W/F), Javaughn Hannah (6-4, Sr., G), Dillon Hunter (6-5, Sr., G), Shawn Phillips (6-10, Sr., C)
Outlook: Top-ranked Class of 2022 prospect Bates looks to lead a talented group of prospects into the national rankings next season after the Ball Boys struggled to field a significant schedule in 2020-21.

Coach: Mike Thomas
2020-21 resume: (14-2) Division I state champions
Notable returners: Amonte Allen-Johnson (6-1, Jr., G), Tae Boyd (6-3, Jr., G), Ty Rodgers (6-7, Sr., W), R.J. Taylor (6-0, Jr., G)
Outlook: The Bobcats made the most of their first state championship game appearance since 1952, capturing the school's first title with a 45-36 victory over previously unbeaten Huron. The return the majority of their rotation including four-star Class of 2022 prospect Rodgers and rising point guard prospect Taylor.
Best high school baseball team from all 50 states - OFFICIAL
Best high school baseball team from all 50 states
While the West Coast is beginning its football season and basketball is wrapping up in other portions of the country, high school baseball has also begun in a large section of the Deep South. And as winter turns to spring more and more states will begin action on the diamond.

As it did for football, boys and girls basketball, and volleyball, MaxPreps is identifying the top high school baseball team in each state as well as the District of Columbia.
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
Vestavia Hills

Alabama looks to be very competitive this year with no team among the expected favorites off to a strong start. The Rebels reached the quarterfinals in 2019 and are off to a 6-1 start in 2021.


The 2019 state champions return eight players from that team, including the state's top prospect in Clayton Boyett and 2019 tournament player of the game Eli Malave.

Hamilton (Chandler)

The Huskies finished the 2020 season with an 8-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the MaxPreps Top 25 when the season ended. Hamilton has won seven state titles under coach Mike Woods, including three in the past four seasons.


The Tigers return two of the state's top players in twins Keegan and Payton Allen. Both have committed to play at Big 12 schools next year with Keegan going to Oklahoma and Payton headed to Kansas.

JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano)

A strong senior class that includes potential first-round draft pick Gage Jump along with shortstop Cody Schrier and pitcher Eric Silva put the Lions at No. 3 in the MaxPreps Top 25 preseason rankings. They finished 11-1 last year, but will have an extremely tough Trinity League to navigate in order to finish high in the national rankings.

Fairview (Boulder)

The Knights won eight games in 2019, but they could have one of the top rosters in Colorado this year. Greysen Carter ranks as one of the state's top pitchers, according to Prep Baseball Report, while center fielder Adam Moser is one of the state's top outfielders.

Amity Regional (Woodbridge)

Amity has three players who saw substantial time on the varsity back in 2019, including first baseman Sebastian Holt and catcher Jacob Crow. The Spartans went 19-12 two years ago and didn't take the field in 2020.

Sussex Tech (Georgetown)

Sussex lost in the second round of the playoffs to Appoquinimink in 2019 and didn't play in 2020. Catcher Jason Shockley returns as one of the top players in the state after making the all-state team as a sophomore.

District of Columbia
St. John's

The Cadets went 30-3 in 2019 while winning the Washington Catholic League championship. Unfortunately the team will be without standout James Triantos, who has transferred to Madison (Va.)

Jesuit (Tampa)

The Tigers were ranked No. 2 in the nation with a 9-0 record when COVID hit last March and begin the 2021 season as the No. 1 team in the nation in the MaxPreps Top 25 baseball rankings. While the team doesn't have any superstars, it is has plenty of depth with the likes of catcher Cole Russo, pitcher Alden Segui, pitcher Dominic Castellano and outfielder BJ Graham.


An outstanding junior class, led by one of the top 2022 pitchers in the nation in Dylan Lesko, puts Buford at the top of the list in Georgia. Buford has nine players expected to play Division I ball at some point, led by Lesko who will play at Vanderbilt.

'Iolani (Honolulu)

The Raiders were 13-7 in 2019 and 2-2 in 2020 when their season ended. 'Iolani should have one of the top shortstops in the state in University of Hawaii commit Kody Watanabe.


Eagle went 16-13 in 2019, but it returns two of its top players from that team in Chase Hilde and Ben Ford. Both all-conference picks, Hilde batted .417 while Ford batted .378 with two home runs.

Brother Rice (Chicago)

Although the team never took the field last year, Brother Rice returns 20 players from that squad, including outfielder Cameron Hill, who is ranked by Prep Baseball Report as one of the state's top players.

Columbus East (Columbus)

During a 25-5 season in 2019, Columbus East had five sophomores finish among the team's top 11 hitters. Pitchers Kaden Wise and Clayton Wilder combined for 15 wins on the 2019 team as sophomores.


Johnston returns three all-district players from last summer's Class 4A state championship team. The top two include first team picks Gabe Swansen and Ben Wilmes.

Blue Valley (Stilwell)

Blue Valley has four of the state's top eight ranked players by Prep Baseball Report. Leading the way is pitcher Cameron Liggett, shortstop Jackson Nicklaus, outfielder Chase Jans and first baseman Jack Tinberg.


The pitching staff should be outstanding this year with Ethan Wood and Christian Howe on the mound. Wood is a former MaxPreps Underclass All-America and earned all-state honors as a sophomore in 2019.

Barbe (Lake Charles)

The Buccaneers expect Jack Walker, an all-state pitcher as a sophomore to be fully recovered from an arm injury that would have kept him out of action for the entire 2020 season. Speed in the outfield could be Barbe's best attribute with Kameron Edwards, Ethan Medlin and Donovan LaSalle all returning.


Ellsworth was the top team in Class B in 2019, going 19-1 with a win over Freeport in the championship game. A total of 10 players return from that squad, making Ellsworth one of the more experienced teams in the state.

DeMatha (Hyattsville)

Although it doesn't play in the Maryland state playoffs, DeMatha is annually one of the top programs in the state. The Stags lost to St. John's in 2019 in the District of Columbia area playoffs.

Phillips Academy (Andover)

Look for Phillips to have one of the top outfields in the Northeast with Duke commit Jonathan Santucci leading the way. The pitching staff should also be outstanding with one of the nation's top sophomores, Thomas White, anchoring a deep staff.

St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake)

The Eaglets have three of the state's top prospects in shortstop Alex Mooney, pitcher Brock Porter and outfielder Nolan Schubart. Mooney also ranks as one of the nation's top infielders and could go high in the 2021 MLB draft. St. Mary Prep went unbeaten in its final 29 games to win a state championship in 2019, but did not play at all in 2020.

Mounds View (Arden Hills)

Led by catcher Will Rogers, one of the top prospects in the Midwest, Mounds View went 16-9 in 2019 and won the consolation championship over Eden Prairie.

Jackson Prep (Jackson)

The Patriots have an All-America candidate in shortstop Riley Maddox and seven other starters are back from a team that was 12-4 when COVID hit. Jackson Prep won the MAIS state championship over Madison Ridgeland in 2019.

Westminster Christian (St. Louis)

The Wildcats reached the state finals of the Class 4 playoffs in 2019 and they return three of the top players from that team in pitchers Zach Dantuono and Nick Moten and shortstop Adam Ebling.


Drew Christo, possibly the state's top player, leads the way for Elkhorn on the mound, but he's not the team's only standout. Prep Baseball Report has three Elkhorn players ranked among the state's top eight players, including Kyler Randazzo at third base and Malakai Vetock at pitcher.

Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)

Two years ago the Gaels went 21-10 with six freshmen and sophomores seeing significant playing time. Those players, including catcher Gavin Mez, could put Bishop Gorman back in championship contention.

New Hampshire

Bedford reached the finals of the 2019 Division 1 playoffs, falling to Londonderry 1-0 in the championship game. One of the top players from that team, pitcher Michael Pratte, returns after earning second team all-district honors as a sophomore.

New Jersey
Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey)

One of the top programs in New Jersey the past decade, the Ironmen didn't take the field in 2020 and went 14-11 in 2019. Don Bosco Prep expects to have a deep lineup in 2021 with nine players headed to the Division I level over the next few seasons.

New Mexico
La Cueva (Albuquerque)

The Bears have won 10 state championships since 2003 and were a favorite in 2020 with a 5-0 record to start the season. A total of seven lettermen return from last year's squad.

New York
Poly Prep Country Day (Brooklyn)

Poly Prep is one of the premier programs in New York with 42 Ivy Prep League championships and 10 NYSAIS crowns. It has also been ranked among the top 100 teams in the country six of the past eight seasons. Greg Becil is one of the top players, recently signing a letter of intent to play at Lehigh.

North Carolina
Ronald Reagan (Pfafftown)

The presence of Josh Hartle, a potential MLB first day draft pick, makes Ronald Reagan a strong contender against any opponent. Reagan was expected to be a state contender in 2020 despite having a junior-dominated lineup. Those juniors are now seniors.

North Dakota
Sheyenne (West Fargo)

The West Fargo team finished sixth in the 2019 Class A state playoffs, but Sheyenne is expected to be the favorite this year thanks to the return of Alex Urlaub, who was on the all-tournament team in 2019 as a sophomore.

Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls)

Walsh Jesuit always seems to be knocking on the door of a championship in Ohio and this could be the year. Led by Michigan-bound shortstop Henry Kaczmar, son of coach Chris Kaczmar, and 2019 All-Ohio middle infielder Jake Armsey, Walsh Jesuit should be strong up the middle.

Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City)

With Jackson Jobe and Gray Thomas on the mound, Heritage Hall has perhaps the top 1-2 punch in the nation. Heritage Hall is a 4A school, but should be able to compete with 6A powerhouses like Owasso thanks to Jobe and Thomas, each of whom throw over 95 mph.

Lakeridge (Lake Oswego)

The Pacers have two of the top players in the state in 2020 in Cam Clayton and Derek Seneker. Clayton was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore in 2019 and has signed to play at the University of Washington.

Malvern Prep (Malvern)

Always one of the top programs in Pennsylvania, Malvern Prep went 32-7 two years ago and won the Inter-Academic Conference. Outfielder Lonnie White, the No. 2 player in the state according to Prep Baseball Report, leads the way.

Rhode Island
Bishop Hendricken (Warwick)

The last time the Hawks walked off the field they were the Division 1 champions, posting a 22-2 record in 2019. After not playing at all in 2020, Bishop Hendricken returns five players from the 2019 championship team.

South Carolina

Summerville has had one of the top baseball programs in the state over the past half-decade and this year they sport one of the state's best power hitters in catcher Cole Messina. He batted .434 with 12 home runs as a sophomore in 2019.

South Dakota
O'Gorman (Sioux Falls)

The Knights won the state championship in 2019 and they return one of the ace pitchers from that squad in all-state pick Reece Arbogast.

Baylor (Chattanooga)

The Red Raiders played one game last year before their season ended. Baylor sports one of the best infields in the nation in first baseman Vito Valincias, second baseman Cooper Kinney and shortstop Daniel Corona. Baylor had won two straight state championships prior to the incomplete 2020 season.

Lake Travis (Austin)

The Cavaliers have been a constant threat for the Class 6A championship for the past five seasons, winning over 30 games each season (except 2020). Lake Travis reached the semifinals in 2019 before falling to eventual champion Southlake Carroll. Coach Mike Rogers is one of the winningest coach in state history with over 700 wins. He has a pair of strong pitchers returning in Alec Grossman and Ethan Roark.

Maple Mountain (Spanish Fork)

The Golden Eagles field two of the top 5A pitchers in Tyler Nelson, an all-state pick as a sophomore, and Wally Averett, an honorable mention selection.

Champlain Valley Union (Hinesburg)

The Redhawks went 25-1 in 2019, winning a Division I state championship. Champlain Valley is 41-3 since the 2018 season. The Redhawks had nine players make the all-league team in 2019.

Hanover (Mechanicsville)

Hanover went 22-3 in 2019, losing to Great Bridge in the playoffs. Hanover has been one of the more successful teams in Virginia the past five seasons, going 21-3 in 2017 as well.

Bainbridge (Bainbridge Island)

Bainbridge got an invite to play in the National High School Invitational this year, but COVID has nixed the event for a second straight season. The Spartans have three pitchers throwing over 90 mph in seniors Nathan Deschryver and Kai Francis and junior Ian Ritchie Jr.

West Virginia
Jefferson (Shenandoah Junction)

Led by one of the winningest coaches in the nation in John Lowery, Jefferson won back-to-back state titles as recently as 2015-16. Lowery has won 12 state titles and was expected to coach his 50th season last year before COVID kept him from fielding a team. He'll take to the field this year for his 50th season that includes 1,313 career wins.

Sun Prairie

The left side of the infield may be unequaled in the state with Carson Shepard at shortstop and Liam Moreno at third base. Sun Prairie came within a run of winning a state title in 2019 and it returns all-state pick Josh Caron at catcher.
High school football: La Salle's schedule release includes games against national power IMG Academy - OFFICIAL
High school football: La Salle's schedule release includes games against national power IMG Academy
The National Football League is set to release its 2021 schedule Wednesday and were about 100 days from the start of the high school football fall season. Some teams, like La Salle (Cincinnati), are taking a cue from the NFL and releasing their schedule.

The Lancers play in the Greater Catholic League-South, one of the toughest in Ohio, and also face a difficult non-league schedule headlined by a showdown against 2020 MaxPreps National Champion, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.).

"We want our kids to play the best teams. So, here we go," La Salle head coach Pat McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin and the Lancers face three teams ranked in the final MaxPreps Top 25. La Salle hosts the Ascenders on Sept. 3 at Lancer Stadium. IMG went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country last fall.

The Lancers travel to Kentucky to face Trinity (Louisville) on Sept. 10. The Shamrocks won their eighth state title since 2010 and finished 10th nationally last fall, going 10-0 while outscoring the opposition 429-48.

Three weeks later, on Oct. 1, La Salle hosts Indiana 5A champion Cathedral (Indianapolis). The Fighting Irish finished at No. 19 in the MaxPreps Top 25 after going 13-1.

La Salle was 8-3 last season, falling 14-10 to Washington (Massillon) in the Ohio Division II semifinals. The Lancers won a state title in 2019, their fourth since 2014. The 2021 schedule they've compiled should prepare the Lancers for all-comers in the postseason.

MaxPreps starts releasing its preseason high school football content with the preseason MaxPreps Top 25 on June 23. Expect to see the Lancers featured in our Top 10 toughest schedules dropping later in July.
La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin, seen in 2019, has a tough schedule prepared for the Lancers this season, facing reigning MaxPreps National Champion IMG Academy as well as Trinity and Cathedral.
File photo by Jeff Harwell
La Salle coach Pat McLaughlin, seen in 2019, has a tough schedule prepared for the Lancers this season, facing reigning MaxPreps National Champion IMG Academy as well as Trinity and Cathedral.
2021 La Salle football schedule

Aug. 20 — vs. Colerain (Cincinnati)

Aug. 27 — vs. Winton Woods (Cincinnati)

Sept. 3 — vs. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

Sept. 10 — at Trinity (Louisville)

Sept. 17 — vs. DuPont Manual (Louisville)

*Sept. 24 — at Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)

Oct. 1 — vs. Cathedral (Indianapolis)

*Oct. 8 — at St. Xavier (Cincinnati)

Oct. 15 — at Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood)

*Oct. 22 — vs. Elder (Cincinnati)

*Indicates league game