More big holiday tournaments, more Xcellent 25 collateral damage.
The biggest surprise was previous No. 4 Shabazz losing to Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) in the first round of the West Coast Jamboree in Livermore, Calif. It might have been the long trip, but more likely it was Salesian's Mariya Moore
, a Louisville signee, who led the team in what coach Steve Pezzola called the school's best game in four years.
Shabazz rebounded to beat two solid NorCal teams in Berkeley and Sacred Heart Cathedral, but the defeat at the hands of four-loss Salesian dropped the Bulldogs from No. 4 to not in the rankings.
In case you hadn't noticed, there's not a lot of mercy when it comes to the Xcellent 25.
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (1) Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis), 9-0
The Red Knights rolled over one of Kentucky's best teams, previously ranked Elizabethtown, in the first round of the Naples Holiday Classic. No. 3 Blackman, though, is on the other side of the bracket.2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 11-0
The Monarchs visited Northern California, hoping to go against previous No. 4 Shabazz of New Jersey, but the East Coast team lost in the first round – so Mater Dei settled for knocking off No. 17 St. Mary's of Stockton to win the West Coast Jamboree.3. (3) Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 13-0
There's only one senior on Blackman's roster, which could lead to some inconsistency. But if the Blaze beats No. 1 Incarnate Word at the Naples Holiday Classic, youth will be served in the next Xcellent 25.
4. (5) Duncanville (Texas), 14-0
The Panthers disposed of No. 11 Whitney Young in the finals of the Sandra Meadows Classic, running their winning streak to an amazing 89. If only they would play out of state …5. (6) Long Beach Poly (Calif.), 9-1
The Jackrabbits struggled a bit with Bishop O'Dowd in the finals of the Hardwood Classic, but held the Dragons scoreless for the final 4:11 before winning by 10. Canyon Springs also made Poly work, but eventually lost 49-45.6. (7) Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.), 6-1
Colorado goes quiet between Christmas and New Year's – no teams can play or practice – so Regis Jesuit will have to wait to get back on the court.7. (8) Bedford North Lawrence (Bedford, Ind.), 11-0
Bedford North Lawrence will play two games Saturday, but the teams with the best shot at an upset – Castle and Seymour – are still very long shots.8. (9) New Hope Christian Academy (Thomasville, N.C.), 14-0
The Phoenix had no trouble winning the Title IX Classic in Washington, D.C., knocking off five-loss Life Center Academy in the final by 15 – and there don't appear to be many challenges left on the schedule.9. (11) Homewood-Flossmoor (Flossmoor, Ill.), 8-2
The Vikings had to come from eight down in the fourth quarter to beat Winton Woods. Faith Suggs
hit both her 3-point attempts and was 6-for-8 from the field to move Homewood-Flossmoor into the top 10.10. (12) Fairmont (Kettering, Ohio), 10-1
Beavercreek, Fairmont's next opponent, once finished the season as the top-ranked girls' basketball team in the country. That was a while ago, however, and the Firebirds should have no trouble Saturday in their first league game.11. (13) Whitney Young (Chicago), 12-1
The Dolphins jumped all over previous No. 10 Manvel, winning 63-31, but couldn't get past host and No. 4 Duncanville in the finals of the Sandra Meadows Classic. Still a 60-46 loss to Duncanville in Duncanville's home gym is far from a bad showing. 12. (16) Saint Mary's (Albany, Calif.), 6-2
Saint Mary's will get another shot at No. 2 Mater Dei Friday at Long Beach City College, but the Panthers better not sleep on Centennial, their opponent Saturday. Southern California is loaded with good teams this year.13. (18) Lawrence North (Indianapolis), 11-0
Roncalli will be a bit more of a challenge Thursday and then Lawrence North takes a week off to get ready for Pike Jan. 9 and No. 7 Bedford North Lawrence Jan. 10.14. (19) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), 6-0
The Saints beat two traditionally strong Pennsylvania teams – Villa Maria and Cardinal O'Hara – by an average of 29 points. Next up is Archbishop Ryan, followed by the school with perhaps the least-intimidating athletic name in the country: Little Flower Catholic for Girls.15. (15) Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.), 7-2
The Bruins started the season with two losses in Tennessee, but are in high gear now. Of course, that could change when they play Indiana power Columbus North Jan. 9.16. (17) Joliet Catholic Academy (Ill.), 11-0
had 25 points and five assists for Joliet Catholic as the Angels won the Hillcrest Holiday Classic. League play begins Saturday, but Joliet Catholic will be the heavy favorite in every game.17. (20) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.), 8-3
How can a three-loss team be in the Xcellent 25? When the three losses are to No. 2 Mater Dei, No. 5 Long Beach Poly and No. 12 Saint Mary's. And the Rams beat Salesian by 16, which handled previous No. 4 Shabazz in the first round of the West Coast Jamboree.18. (24) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 8-2
The Crusaders face one of New Jersey's best this weekend, Blair Academy, as coach Sam Crawford continues to challenge his very good team with a top-flight schedule.19. (NR) Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.), 10-0
The Mustangs jump into the rankings thanks to 10 straight wins and a youthful roster topped by junior guard Aliyah Mazyck
.20. (22) Horn Lake (Miss.), 11-0
Horn Lake outscored two opponents 152-59 in the Coldwater tournament. Next up is Friday's Germantown Shootout, and until Olive Branch shows up on the schedule, it looks like smooth sailing.21. (23) Northside (Fort Smith, Ark.), 10-1
The Grizzlies had little trouble at the Pink and White Classic, winning the championship game by 23 over Parkview of Missouri. Conference play in Arkansas is next.22. (25) Desert Vista (Phoenix), 12-0
The Thunder must try to keep their momentum despite a 17-day gap between games. After beating Arizona power Dobson on Dec. 21, Desert Vista went on hiatus and doesn't play again until Jan. 7.23. (NR) Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.), 13-2
Sparkman's only two losses are to No. 3 Blackman, and look to be the best in Alabama – but the competition is always tough in that state.24. (10) Manvel (Texas), 20-2
Whitney Young put a serious dent in Manvel's reputation – and that of Texas overall – by more than doubling up the team many consider the second-best in the Lone Star State. But the Mavericks bounced back to beat Plano West, and hang on to their place in the Xcellent 25.25. (NR) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.), 9-0
There are a host of candidates lurking just outside the Xcellent 25, but Princess Anne gets the call thanks to a win over one of the many strong D.C. teams, including St. John's.Dropped out:
No. 4 Shabazz, No. 14 Riverdale, No. 21 Miami