With us now three weeks into the private school season, teams are separating into different categories: Contenders, Pretenders, and TBD. In the triangle, there are a lot more teams in the TBD category than anything else as a half dozen teams have given a lot of mixed signals in regard to what kind of team they’re going to be. This is the first week that a team’s resume begins to enter consideration as the ten teams ranked have played an average of 7.4 games, equating to just under one-third of a season. Even still, the eye test and SOS remain the key determining factors in my rankings as November results only get less and less valuable as we get deeper into the season.

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Game of the Week

The Week 3 Game of the Week was between Trinity Academy and Wake Christian in a game where the Bulldogs recovered from a 14-point halftime deficit to steal the game in the final minute. The Tigers had two starters foul out early in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs took full advantage. 2026 Beckett Coon had 28 points and shot 5/10 from three in the win. Since there are only eight games in CCC play, Wake Christian stealing one on the road against one of the better teams in the conference will be vital later down the line.

The Week 4 Game of the Week is between Cary Academy and Trinity Academy in a game of conflicting styles and a lot at stake. The Chargers have the size advantage and it’ll be interesting to see how and if they can exploit it. The Tigers have a deep stable of talented guards that should challenge the Chargers’ backcourt. Both teams need a signature win in the early part of the season and this is the perfect opportunity to get one.

Tier One

  1. GRACE Christian (6-3)

Since our last article, the Eagles are 4-1, dominating their opponents and only dropping to an uber-talented Victory Christian team. Of the private schools in the triangle, they have far and away the best chances to win a state title which is why they’re the lone team in Tier One. They continue to suffocate teams on defense while seeing a noticeable uptick in offensive efficiency since Quasim Oden returned to the lineup. Michael Phillips II is shooting a ridiculous 46% from three on over six attempts per game. While he’s one of the best shooters around, what really stands out (and often goes unnoticed with him) is his willingness to defend and his toughness and value on that end of the floor. He’s shown time and again that he’s not afraid to jump with anyone or take on a high-level matchup, evidenced by his 3.2 stocks per game. He’s truly one of the most underrated defensive weapons in the area. Around him, McLeod and Oden have continued to live up to the preseason hype as well, being the main initiators and the main reasons the offense has taken a step up in weeks two and three. Moving forward, they have a huge matchup with Forsyth Country Day in week four that will go a long way in determining how legitimate their state title hopes are.

Week 4: @ St. Thomas More, vs. Forsyth Country Day

Tier Two

  1. Cary Academy (3-3)

The Chargers showed their humanity against Covenant Day and Carmel Christian, losing by 2 and 23 respectively. They’re still searching for their second quality win after beating Southern Wake in their season opener and that lack of quality wins is what keeps them from the top tier right now. The good news is that they have multiple really good teams on their schedule this week with home games against Wesleyan Christian and Trinity Academy, both of which would be considered a quality win. The key to this team still lies in their frontcourt and getting consistent dominance out of Aidan Rousseau and Wyatt DeGraaf. Both of them have shown real flashes this season but finding a way to get both of them rolling at the same time is critical to this team’s success. The guard play is in a similar spot, with only freshman Preston Moore showing consistency right now. Regardless, they still have a talent advantage over almost every team on this list and they’re just a couple of good wins away from breaking back into Tier One.

Week 4: vs. Wesleyan Christian, vs. Trinity Academy

  1. Durham Academy (4-4)

Despite their 0.500 record, the Cavaliers are showing as many reasons to be optimistic as anyone right now. Amare Burrus made his debut and has been a real difference maker, PJ Jeffries rolled his hot start into a hot first three weeks, and JJ Wilcox is one of the most reliable players in the triangle. On top of that, their depth is better than pretty much every team on this list, with Josh Dorsette, Quin Frasher, and Nathan Bullock all excelling within their roles right now. They have a huge week ahead of them with games against Northern, Voyager, and TDACH, all of which are winnable and would see them raise their stock considerably should they go 3-0. Right now, they feel like a team that, at worst, isn’t going to beat themselves. With that, they’re a safe bet to win the games they’re supposed to win and hang around with teams that are supposed to put them away.

Week 4: @ Northern, vs. Voyager, @ TDACH

  1. Wake Christian (6-1)

No one had a better week two and three than the Wake Christian Bulldogs. They beat Ravenscroft by 14, TDACH by 16, and overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to beat Trinity Academy by 3. Their guard trio has been incredible to start the season, with Coon, Coon, and Williams averaging 47.2p, 13.1r, 10.2a, & 4.6s per game while shooting 36% from three on 128a (98% of the teams total 3pa come from these three). It’s proven to be difficult to contain them as shutting down all three on the same night is very unlikely. Outside of their three guards, big man Sully Caruso has quietly been very good, averaging 11p & 8r while playing his role at a high level. He’s slowly becoming one of the most under-recognized players in the triangle. Looking forward they have three winnable games this week and a 9-1 start is appearing very feasible.

Week 4: @ Thales Apex, vs. Thales Rolesville, vs. TBA

  1. Trinity Academy (4-2)

The Tigers took extremely close losses to Knightdale and Wake Christian, knocking them out of the top three and nearly out of Tier Two. The biggest thing to take away from these two losses was that there were multiple stretches where their lack of experience showed. They need their few upperclassmen to step up in important moments, something that we’ve only seen flashes of so far. Regardless, this is still a very talented team, and their week four schedule puts them in all the right spots to make a big move back into Tier One. Kam Prince and Parker Bye have been good to start the year, both of them trending as 1st Team All-Conference level performers so far. Look for their freshmen, Wesley Hillsdale and DJ West, to continue to impact the game in big ways as both of them have shown real flashes thus far.

Week 4: @ Wayne Country Day, vs. Thales Apex, @ Cary Academy

Tier Three

  1. Ravenscroft (4-3)

Ravenscroft still appears to have the same problems we talked about in week one, the lack of support around their two stars. However, they’ve still found good success without that extra production and whenever it comes around this will be a new-look team that can compete with anyone. They took quality wins over Voyager, Grace Sanford, and Charlotte Latin in weeks two and three. If it weren’t for their loss to Wake Christian, they would be comfortably in the top five still but the way they were dismantled in that game keeps them in Tier Three for now. Looking forward, they have Cardinal Gibbons and Greensboro Day this week. Winning both would vault them into the top three while losing both would see them drop even further than they already have.

Week 4: @ Cardinal Gibbons, @ Greensboro Day

  1. North Raleigh Christian (4-3)

The Knights continue to be a fun team in the early season, really leaning into their youth and playing some competitive games against good teams. Freshmen Caiden Jenkins and Brennen Jefferson have been their best two players so far while junior Tristan Thompson is quietly boosting his stock through the early part of the season. There hasn’t been anything so far that makes me think this won’t be the best NRCA team in recent memory and they’ll be exciting to continue tracking this year. Looking forward, they have a game against John Paul II Catholic this week that kicks off a relatively favorable stretch of schedule leading into the new year.

Week 4: @ John Paul II Catholic

Tier Four

  1. Cary Christian (5-0)

Cary Christian is the lone undefeated team remaining on the private school side and holds the longest winning streak in the triangle at five. Andrew Neal has surpassed the high preseason expectations put upon him thus far, averaging 25p, 7r, 4a, & 3s while shooting 38% from three on over seven attempts per game. Next to him, David Wisniewski has been dominating the interior, averaging 17p and 13r per game while simply outworking his opponents on a nightly basis. These two, combined with solid role players and a clearly high level of team chemistry, make for one of the more fun teams to watch in the triangle. They have had a favorable schedule so far and have week four off before a very intriguing matchup with St. David’s in week five.

Week 4: None

  1. St. David’s (2-5)

Coming off a 0-2 week two and three, the Warriors are in search of consistency. Their shooting woes have continued and they’re averaging over 17 turnovers per game. Cleaning both of these areas up would see them return to top-5 contention as they have the talent to beat a lot of good teams. AK Proctor is still out with injury and his return will do a lot to help them find some structure within the offense. Cooper Berkoff, Kazim Oladipo, and George Coleman have all had some intriguing flashes in the backcourt and I still believe it’s only a matter of time before they start finding their groove offensively. They have two winnable games against Friendship Christian and Raleigh Charter this week, making it a good time for them to work some of their early season kinks out.

Week 4: vs. Friendship Christian, @ Raleigh Charter

Tier Five

  1. Thales Apex (4-8)

The Titans are a couple of good wins away from getting off the ranking bubble, with games against Wake Christian, Trinity Academy, and Grace Sanford scheduled for week four. On the court, they have shown some good flashes. Nathan Purvis has been prolific as a scorer while Zach Rachmuth and Daniel Cannon have stepped up more than expected. Justin Brown is the most important cog in their system right now, averaging 10p, 9r, 3a, & 5b while still not playing his best basketball. If he can get going, there’s a real chance for him and his team to emerge in a big way.

Week 4: vs. Wake Christian, @ Trinity Academy, @ Grace Sanford

Outside Teams to Monitor

Trinity of Durham & Chapel Hill (3-3)

TDACH came in at 11 in this week’s rankings. With games against Hillside and Durham Academy this week, it’s very possible for them to make a jump back into the top 10 if they can sneak a game or two. Kyren Smith has been dominant so far, averaging 23p, 7r, & 3a while both Zach Powery and Noah Kim have been more productive than anticipated in the early season. If they can continue to get valuable production from their support pieces, there’s no reason why they can’t return to the rankings and even steal some wins from higher-ranked teams.

Week 4: @ Hillside, vs. Durham Academy