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March 22, 2010

Top teams tumble over tough weekend

MORE: VIDEO: Dunk breaks backboard | Latest RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings

It's hard to compete for the title of best in the country when you come up short in your own state.

Two top teams in the RivalsHigh Top 100 boys basketball rankings learned that lesson the hard way this weekend.

On Saturday, No. 4 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei fell to No. 13 Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester.

On Sunday, No. 2 Columbus (Ohio) Northland lost to previously unranked Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln in one of the biggest stunners of the season.

The outcome clinches the No. 1 overall spot for Houston (Texas) Yates, which won a Texas state title earlier this month.

It wasn't just that Northland lost - it was how it lost, getting demolished in a 71-45 loss.

(Read the Columbus Dispatch's game story here.)

The team that some argued was the best in the land - one that beat previous No. 1 and current No. 9 Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep and current No. 8 Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill - was overmatched in this one.

"It just wasn't in the cards tonight," Northland coach Satch Sullinger told the Dispatch. "This wasn't the team I coached all year, but a lot has to do with Gahanna. I just don't know. All it takes is one hiccup. We lost to a quality team that just shot the lights out. That's nothing to be ashamed about."

Jared Sullinger, an Ohio State recruit and the coach's son, had a game-high 24 points and 15 rebounds, but he and his teammates weren't able to do it on defense. Lincoln shot 61 percent from the field in the game.

In contrast, Mater Dei's problem was offense. It never recovered from a 3-for-13 second quarter in what became a 71-63 loss.

No. 3 Philadelphia (Pa.) Neumann-Goretti was the only top team to advance, reaching the Pennsylvania Class 3A semifinals with a 53-38 victory on Friday night.

Neumann-Goretti has no claim to the top spot in the country, however. It lost to Yates by a single point in the final of a holiday tournament in Hawaii.

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