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It's baaaaaaaaack! The Liberty Tribune's annual Suburban Conference Basketball Power Poll has returned by popular demand.

I started this feature several years ago, and the reputation continues to grow. Many readers have told me over the years this is one of their favorite pieces to read that NEVER appears in the print edition of the Liberty Tribune. It's a special web feature that will appear from the first week of the year until the end of the high school season.

At first, this weekly supplement became a hit among local basketball fans. Now it draws interest from coaches, players and fans from around the metropolitan area, and in some cases beyond when basketball fanatics want to check in on Kansas City hoops.

Every week, I'll provide a short breakdown of every team (boys and girls) in the Suburban Red Conference – the league both Liberty and Liberty North call home. Also will be included the updated standings for the other divisions: Gold, White and Blue.

So without further ado, I'll get right to it! Here's the first installment of the 2017 edition of the Suburban Conference Basketball Power Poll, and know you can enjoy this piece every week for the next two months. Cheers!

All records include games through Tuesday, Jan. 3:

Suburban Red Boys

1.St. Joseph Central (0-0 conference, 10-1 overall): Most people expected the Indians to have a solid club this season, but they have been even better than advertised thus far. Central has knocked off several quality teams – Hogan Prep and Shawnee Mission North early in the season and Grandview and North Kansas City during last week's run to the Cardinal Division Championship at the William Jewell Holiday Classic. The hot start puts the Indians on top of the poll.

2. Raytown (0-0, 7-2): For the past few seasons, the Bluejays have been among the top teams in the Kansas City area. This year is no different. Raytown advanced to the Patterson Division title game at Jewell last week and nearly knocked off undefeated Park Hill. All indications point toward Raytown being a serious contender in conference and district later in the season.

3. Liberty (0-0, 8-2): After starting the season with eight straight wins, the Blue Jays suffered back-to-back losses in the last two games of the William Jewell tournament. Both defeats came at the hands of good teams (NKC and Grandview) and keep in mind Liberty led both games in the second half. The Jays look like they're for real, despite last week's slipups.

4. Park Hill South (0-0, 8-3): All three of the Panthers' losses have been by five points or less. One came against Liberty at the Leavenworth Tournament, one against Blue Springs in the semifinals at Jewell, and the other against rival Park Hill. South could be as dangerous as anyone in the conference.

5. Liberty North (0-0, 7-3): If you're starting to notice, the Suburban Red Conference in LOADED. The always prepared Eagles rank only fifth in the first poll this season, and this is a program that plays for league and district championships every year. I'm guessing North will likely climb the ranks in upcoming weeks.

6. Truman (0-0, 2-9): It's been a rough start for the Patriots and their new head coach. Truman started the season 1-7 and then mustered only a consolation semifinal victory at Jewell. Early signs point toward a long season this year.

Suburban Red Girls

1. Truman (0-0, 7-2): With Kierra Collier, one of the best players in the Kansas City area this season – and perhaps the best – leading the way, the Patriots looked like a final four caliber team this season as they started 6-0. She ripped the nets for a program-record 44 points in an 86-25 blowout of Grandview back in mid-December. But here's the deal. Collier reportedly graduated a semester early and has left for college to start her basketball career at the next level at the University of Washington. Truman still has some quality players and will hold the top spot for now, but the outlook is much more uncertain now.

2. Liberty (0-0, 6-4): In the middle of December, the Blue Jays looked like a young, inexperienced team trying to find itself. Consider it found. After losing four of their last five games before Christmas break, Liberty has now rattled off a four-game win streak and looks like the solid team many people expected coming into the season.

3. St. Joseph Central (0-0, 7-3): A shocking 20-point loss against Smithville in the semifinals of the Liberty North Invitational aside, the Indians have been really good this season, which includes knocking off perennial Class 4 powerhouse St. Joseph Benton. However, they cooled off over the holidays when they dropped two games at the Neosho Tournament.

4. Liberty North (0-0, 2-5): With several returning players in the fold for the Eagles this season, they had hope to take their game to the next level. We've seen some flashes at times, but only time will tell if they can reach their ultimate goal.

5. Park Hill South (0-0, 3-6): The Panthers have taken major strides in the right direction the past few seasons, but I haven't seen that continue so far this year. Injuries may have held them back so far, so we'll have to wait and see what happens.

6. Raytown (0-0, 1-7): I saw the Bluejays get blown out three times at the Liberty North Invitational back in early December, and things have not gotten any better since then. They have played a couple competitive games though, so they may be some hope for improvement.

Other Suburban Conference Standings:

Gold Boys

Lee’s Summit West.........2-0, 8-0

Park Hill..........................1-0, 10-0

Blue Springs...................1-0, 5-4

Lee’s Summit North........1-1, 3-4

Blue Springs South.........0-1, 5-3

Raymore-Peculiar............0-1, 2-7

Lee’s Summit…...............0-2, 3-6

Gold Girls

Blue Springs South........2-0, 7-2

Lee’s Summit North.......1-0, 8-0

Lee’s Summit West .......2-1, 4-6

Lee’s Summit.................2-1, 4-6

Blue Springs..................1-2, 3-6

Park Hill.........................0-1, 5-3

Raymore-Peculiar...........0-3, 5-5

White Boys

North Kansas City.........2-0, 9-2

Ruskin...........................1-1, 5-7

Staley............................0-0, 6-2

Oak Park.......................0-0, 5-4

William Chrisman ….......0-1, 2-5

Fort Osage....................0-1, 0-8

White Girls

Staley ...........................1-0, 6-3

William Chrisman...........1-1, 6-3

North Kansas City.........0-0, 4-3

Ruskin...........................0-0, 3-5

Oak Park.......................0-0, 2-5

Fort Osage....................0-1, 2-7

Blue Boys

Grandview....................1-0, 8-2

Belton...........................0-0, 5-2

Kearney........................0-0, 4-3

Raytown South..............0-0, 4-7

Winnetonka...................0-0, 2-8

Platte County.................0-1, 3-6

Blue Girls

Kearney........................2-0, 4-5

Platte County................0-0, 6-4

Winnetonka..................0-0, 3-5

Belton..........................0-0, 1-6

Grandview....................0-1, 3-6

Raytown South.............0-1, 1-9

Liberty Sports Editor Chris Geinosky can be reached at 389-6654 or chris.geinosky@libertytribune.com.

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