Gratz, Roman In National Polls

Posted: March 21, 1991

Simon Gratz and Roman Catholic, the top two boys' basketball teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania, also can claim to be among the best in the country

because of the two best-known national high school polls.

Gratz (27-1) beat Franklin Learning Center, 47-43, March 1 for its second consecutive Public League championship and has been ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania all season. Roman (28-3) beat La Salle, 70-36, March 10 for its third consecutive Catholic League championship, then won two games in the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament before losing in the final to DeMatha, another nationally ranked team, Saturday.

The most widely published national poll is the one put together by Doug Huff, the sports editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer in West Virginia. Huff, who has covered sports in Wheeling for 24 years and has written for Street & Smith's for 15, started his poll four years ago. It now is distributed by the Associated Press to about 140 newspapers and also is carried on ESPN.

The other major poll is the one started by USA Today in 1982. It is compiled by Dave Krider, the sports editor of the Herald-Argus in La Porte, Ind. Krider has been a sportswriter for 30 years and has written for Street & Smith's and Basketball Weekly (where he started the national poll in 1975, the year before he crowned West Philadelphia the mythical national champion). He also helps run a summer basketball camp at the University of Cincinnati, an event that is expected to attract 600 players this year.

Huff ranks Gratz No. 2 in the country, behind Whites Creek of Tennessee. Oak Hill Academy of Virginia started the season at No. 1 and handed Gratz its only loss, but a 28-point loss to Dunbar of Fort Worth, Texas, at a post- Christmas tournament dropped Oak Hill (now No. 5) below Gratz. The Bulldogs moved into the No. 2 spot on Dec. 31, after they won the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Roman was ranked 13th by Huff before dropping out of the Top 25 after the loss to DeMatha (now No. 6). Roman's only other losses came against fourth- ranked St. Anthony of Jersey City, N.J., and No. 14 St. Joseph's of Alameda, Calif.

Huff, who consults a panel of 35 basketball experts around the country every week, says he has seen Gratz on film from two December tournaments: the Beach Ball and the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee, Fla., where the Bulldogs lost to Oak Hill. He said he saw Roman, which returned four starters this year, on tape last season.

Krider, who said he calls experts in virtually every state before compiling the ratings, ranked Gratz No. 5 this week and put Roman at No. 18. Oak Hill is No. 3.

St. Anthony is No. 2, St. Joseph's is No. 8 and DeMatha is 11th.

Krider saw Gratz in Florida and Roman in Pine Bluff, Ark., where the Cahillites lost to St. Joseph's.

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