It's going to be difficult to top 2008-09 in girls basketball.
The mythical national championship came down to a last-second basket before 14,000 frantic fans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where the home team Ben Davis scored a 71-69 win over Washington.
There were some landmark players including MaxPreps Player of the Year Skylar Diggins, who took home all three postseason All-Star game MVP trophies, and Brittney Griner, a 6-foot-8 post who promises to revlolutionize the game of women's basketball.
But the 2009-10 figures to be even more heated and competitive. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) holds down the top preseason spot, but with a national schedule and a slew of California teams chomping at its sneakers, going wire-to-wire will be a major feat.
The Golden State holds down three of the top five and four of the top eight spots, but defending champion Davis, and defending state champions from Illinois (Bolingbrook) and Florida power Dillard will likely also have a strong say in deciding who finishes No. 1.
PRESEASON XCELLENT 25 presented by the Army National Guard
1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Head coach: Kevin Kiernan
2008-09 record: 32-1.
Standouts: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (6-0, Jr., G, committed to Connecticut), Jordan Adams (6-1, So., G), Lauren Rock (5-8, Sr., G), Alexvz Vaioletama (6-1, Jr., F).
Scouting report: The Monarchs lost two seniors to graduation after dropping just one game all year, a crusher to eventual Div. II state champion Brea-Olinda in the Southern Section finals. Every piece of the puzzle is present here with arguably the nation’s best junior in Mosqueda-Lewis, one of the country’s top sophomore point guards in Adams, a rock in Rock, a superior low post player in Vaioletama and more depth than the Grand Canyon. Kiernan, in just his second season with the Monarchs, is a proven winner with three state crowns at Troy.
2. St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.)
Head coach: Tom Gonsalves
2008-09 record: 31-3, CIF State Division III champions
Standouts: Chelsea Gray (5-11, Sr., G, Duke signee), Afure Jemerigbe (5-11, Sr. F, Cal signee),Ali Gibson (5-10, Jr., F), Alle Moreno (5-4, Sr., G, Sacramento State signee), Onome Jemerigbe (5-6, Fr., G).
Scouting report: The Rams didn’t lose a single player to graduation and feature two of the top 20 players in the country in Gray and Afure Jemerigbe. With the additions of super freshmen Onome Jemerigbe, Afure’s younger sister, and Unique Coleman, the Rams don’t appear to have a flaw. They play a national schedule and with so much speed, experience and 3-point shooting it’s hard to imagine them not repeating as state champs.
3. Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Head coach: Anthony Smith
2008-09 record: 26-4, 4A state champions.
Standouts: Morgan Tuck (6-2, So., F), Ariel Massengale (5-6, Jr., G), Nicosia Henry (6-0, Sr., F), Mercedes Griffin (5-10, Sr., G).
Scouting report: Much of Bolingbrook’s fate rests on the health of leading scorer and rebounder Tuck, who tore her ACL in May but should be back at 100 percent by the start of the year. Massengale is one of the state’s best guards and Henry has signed to Seton Hall. Smith had one of the nation’s toughest schedules last year and this year is no exception.
4. Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Head coach: Marcia Pinder
2008-09 record: 27-2.
Standouts: Dawn Maye (5-8, Sr., G), T’Kevah Williams (6-2, Jr., C), Lauren McGraw (5-10, Jr., G), Candace Parson (6-2, Sr., F), Kianna Conner (5-9, Sr., G).
Scouting report: Besides the talented and Georgia Tech-bound Maye, a triple-double machine, the Panthers have two other Division I signees in Candace Parson (Tennessee Tech) and Conner (Delaware State). The addition of transfer Williams should give some relief to Parson and should help Pinder win her fifth state title.
5. Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
Head coach: Jeff Sink
2008-09 record: 33-2, state Div. II champion.
Standouts: Justine Hartman (6-2, Jr., C), Kelsey Harris (5-9, Sr., G), Jeanier Olukemi (5-9, So., F), Alexis Perry (5-7, Jr., G).
Scouting report: Sink is one of the nation’s best coaches and he led the Wildcats to their unprecedented eighth girls state crown last year. Sink has coached four of those teams. This team certainly can repeat with Hartman, a silky smooth post, and with rugged, skilled guard play. As always, Sink’s bench is extremely deep.
6. Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)Head coach:
Stan Benge. 2008-09 record:
30-0, Class 4A state champion, Xcellent 25 national champions.Standouts:
Bria Goss (5-10, Jr., G), Dorothy Williams (6-0, Sr., G), Shawnece Teague (6-2, So., C), Brionna Arnold (5-10, So. F). Scouting report:
It’s going to be tough to top 2008-09 when the Giants became the first-ever undefeated 30-win girls team in state history. Goss hit the game-winning shot in the closing seconds in a memorable state title-game win over Washington and national Player of the Year Skylar Diggins (now at Notre Dame). The team lost four college players but Goss is probably better than all of them and should lead them to another state-title drive.
7. MacArthur (Irving, Texas)
Head coach: Suzie Oelschlegel
2008-09 record: 35-4.
Standouts: Odyssey Sims (5-8, Sr. G.), Alexis Jones (5-9, So., G), Ayriel Anderson (5-5, So., G), Karmyn Jackson (6-1, Jr., C).
Scouting reports: Sims will no doubt be in consideration for National Player of the Year after averaging 18.3 points, 7.2 assists and 5.7 steals per game while leading the Cardinals to the regional semifinals. For MacArthur to reach its ultimate goal, it will need its talented young group of sophomores to step up, including the ultra-talented Jones (9.3 ppg, 7.2 apg, 5.7 spg) and Jackson (8.2).
8. Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
Head coach: Carl Buggs
2008-09 record: 32-3, CIF Div. I champion.
Standouts: Brittany Wilson (5-8, Sr., G), Ashley Wilson (5-8, Sr., G), Thaddesia Southall (6-3, Sr., F), Sheila Boykin (6-0, Jr. F), Ariya Crook-Williams (5-7, Jr., G).
Scouting report: It’s the same report every year with the Jackrabbits – pressure defense, balanced scoring, deep bench and teamwork. You’ll rarely find a 20-point scorer in any contest for Poly, which has won four consecutive state Div. I titles. With all the terrific guard play, Southall is a big force down low. The squad has at least five Division I caliber players on 16-person roster.
9. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.)
Head coach: Sherri Retif
2008-09 record: 31-0, AIS champions.
Standouts: Maggie Lucas (5-8, Sr., G), Tory Thierolf (6-0, Sr., F), Monica Schackler (5-6, Jr., G), Alexa Gallegher (6-1, Jr., F).
Scouting report: There’s loads of experience and talent here as Lucas has already signed to Penn State and Thierolf to Drexel. The duo has led the Patriots to a 76-7 record the last three seasons. Thierolf shot 54 percent from the field last year while averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game, while Lucas averaged 21.4 ppg last season and needs 690 points to become the school’s all-time points leader for boys or girls.
10. St. Michael Academy (New York, N.Y.)
Head coach: Apache Paschall
2008-09 record: 25-3, NYFAA state champions
Standouts: Brittany Webb (6-3, Sr., C), Allysia Rohlehr (5-10, Jr. G), Jennifer O’Neal (5-6, Sr., G),
Scouting report: After a mid-season slump, St. Michael rallied last year to unseat two-time defending champion Murry Bergtraum in the state finals. With the inside-outside game of Rohlehr and O’Neal feeding Webb, the Eagles will be hard to beat. Then again, New York basketball is highly competitive.
11. Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Head coach: Tony Bannister
2008-09 record: 37-4, NCSAA champion.
Standouts: Antionette Bannister (5-10, So., G), Loliya Briggs (5-11, Jr., G), Brittany Roundtree (5-8, Jr., G), Shalethia Stringfield (5-7, Jr., G).
Scouting report: There’s only one senior – 6-3 center Shaterra Mayo - on the 15-person squad that includes a seventh grader, Desha Royal, listed as a 5-7 guard. Bannister averaged 19.9 points last year on this high-scoring team that averaged 73.8 per game. Other double-digit scorers included Roundtree (14.6) and Stringfield (13.6).
12. Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas)Head coach:
Ann Robique2008-09 record:
Chiney Ogwumike (6-2, Sr., C), Cassie Peoples (5-6, Jr., G), Aarika Reyna (5-4, Sr., G). Scouting report:
The Stanford-bound Ogwumike may be the best player in the country, but she’ll have to largely carry this team all the way through a 40-game schedule, no minor feat in the state of Texas. The younger sister of Stanford pre-season All-American and former MaxPreps National Player of the year Chiney, Ogwumike averaged 21.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.4 steals per game last season, carrying the Bobcats to the 5A semifinals.
13. Whitney Young (Chicago)
Head coach: Corry Irvin
2008-09 record: 30-2, 4A state finalist.
Standouts: Janee Thompson (5-6, So., G), Chanise Jenkins (5-4, Jr., G),
Scouting report: Only losses last year were to top-10 teams Bolingbrook and Heritage Christian, but with added experience to extremely young and talented squad, the Dolphins should be back in the fray. Bolingbrook, also improved, could stand in their way again.
14. Elmhurst (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Head coach: Mark Redding.
2008-09 record: 25-2, 3A state champions.
Standouts: Lacia Gorman (5-7, Jr., G), Liza Clemons (6-2, Jr., F).
Scouting report: They aren’t particularly big and they play at a 3A level, but their performance is usually huge. Clemons controls the middle and Gorman and a brigade of guards run the count and shoot the 3. Redding’s team returns four starters and lost just one senior off last year’s roster. Look for a Nov. 21 date with defending 4A champion Davis.
15. Regina (South Euclid, Ohio)
Head coach: Patrick Diulus
2008-09 record: 27-0, Div. III state champions.
Standouts: Thernay Dunnigan (6-2, Jr., C), Pa’Sonna Hope (6-2, Sr., F), Tay’ler Mingo (5-7, Sr., G), .
Scouting report: It’s going to be tough to top last year’s dominant season for Regina, which closed the season with playoff wins by margins of 21, 29 and 15 points. Especially losing a trio of Division I players to graduation, but with the addition of Dunnigan’s freshman sister Chardell (6-1), one of three talented freshmen entering the fray, the Royals could continue their win streak.
16. Murry Bergtraum (New York City)
Head coach: Ed Grezinsky
2008-09 record: 24-2, NYFAA finalist.
Standouts: Cece Dixon (5-4, Sr., G), Shakurah Washington (5-11, Sr., F), Doris Ortega (5-10, Sr., G).
Scouting report: The Blazers have a chip on their shoulders after losing in the finals last year to St. Michael Academy. Washington is a beast on the boards and was the team’s leading scorer, but look for Dixon to take over that role this season.
17. Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)
Head coach: Vanessa Watson
2008-09 record: 30-2.
Standouts: Alyesha Lovett (6-0, Jr., F), Aliyvah Handford (5-9, So., G), Ka-Deidre Simmons (5-6, Sr., G), Desiree Simmons (5-6, Sr., G).
Scouting report: The Bulldogs lost seven seniors off last year’s squad, but with a talented trio of freshman including Handford getting a season’s worth of experience, it should pay off. The others include Rischar Benjamin (5-7) and Imani Spini (5-3). The only returner six-footer is junior Zantaya Davis (6-0), so, as usual, quickness and pressing will be coach Watson’s game. The Simmons twins Ka-Deidre (Seton Hall) and Desiree (Long Island) have already signed Division I scholarships.
18. Timberview (Mansfield, Texas)
Head coach: Candi Harvey
2008-09 record: 35-4, 4A state finalist.
Standouts: Camille Redmon (6-4, Sr., F), Keena Mays (5-7, Sr., G), Meagan Conwright (5-9, Sr., G).
Scouting report: With Mays signed for Kansas and Conwright going to Kentucky, expect another 30-win season for Harvey, a former WNBA coach. The team is off to a 4-0 start already with Redmon averaging 14.0 points and eight rebounds per game. Mays leads the squad at 15.8 per contest.
19. Midwest City (Okla.)
Head coach: Art Bode
2008-09 record: 26-1, 6A state finalist.
Standouts: Kaylon Williams (6-3, Jr., F), Richa Jackson (6-0, Sr., F), Tarrington Oakes (5-6, Sr., G).
Scouting report: Like their nickname, the Bombers were an up-tempo, high-scoring team throughout the year but Del City, a team it beat twice during the regular season, slowed the game to a snail’s pace in the state championship to win 29-27. Midwest City is all about finishing what it started during a brilliant 2008-09 campaign and with Oklahoma-bound Williams in the middle and Duke-bound Jackson at the wing, the Bombers look like the prohibitive favorites. Oakes is a Div. I prospect who missed last year with a knee injury.
20. Central Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Head coach: Bill Wolf
2008-09 record: 29-2.
Standouts: Alyssa Thomas (6-1, Sr., C), Karyn Purcell (5-6, Sr., G), Sarah Dowhower (5-7, Jr., G), Caitlyn Bassett (6-1, Sr., F).
Scouting report: The Rams will need to make up for the loss of graduated senior co-captains Gabby Singer and Shelby Etter, but with Maryland-bound Thomas (19.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.7 steals per game) returning, the team has a rock in the middle. Purcell (6.6 ppg), Bassett (8.5) and Dowhower (6.5) will need to pick up some scoring slack. The addition of Middletown forward Sam Noss (5-10) she help.
21. Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Head coach: Jerry Jackson
2008-09 record: 25-0, 5A state champions.
Standouts: Nia Evans (6-0, Sr., F), Kierra Page (5-6, Jr., G).
Scouting report: New coach Jackson, a former football player at Arizona State who was the team’s JV coach the last two seasons, inherits a talented group led by the Evans, who has signed to Virginia Tech. Evans averaged 16 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.0 steals a game last season.
22. Sacramento (Calif.)Head coach:
Michele Massari2008-09 record:
Erica Barnes (6-2, Sr., F), Brittany Shine (5-10, Sr., G), Kyra Dunn (6-3, Sr., F), Katrina Salinas (5-7, Sr., G).Scouting report:
With three college-bound players, Barnes to Arizona, Shine to Florida and Dunn to Pittsburgh the Dragons are truly a top 25 team. Problem is, they play in the same playoff division as St. Mary’s-Stockton, which beat Sacramento three times last year. Shine and Barnes averaged just under 15 points per game last year and Dunn picked off 12 rebounds a game. Salinas stretches defenses with fantastic 3-point shooting.
23. Hillsboro (Nashville, Tenn.)
Head coach: Katrina Carter
2008-09 record: 36-1, 3A state champions.
Standouts: Isabelle Harrison (6-4, Jr., C), Lakeisha Crouch (6-0, Sr., F), Kearra Holt (5-4, So., G), Jemilah Leonard (5-7, Fr., G).
Scouting report: Crouch averaged 14.9 points and 3.1 steals a game last year and Harrison added 11.6 per contest. The Burros lost three key seniors, but with the improvement of Holt and addition of Leonard, they should repeat as state champions.
24. Neptune (N.J.)
Head coach: John Brown
2008-09 record: 30-1.
Standouts: Shakeena Richardson (5-4, Jr., G), Chyna Golden (6-2, Sr., C), Syessence Davis (5-6, Jr., G).
Scouting report: Brown’s team lost in the state finals to Shabazz but that’s only after Richardson fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Davis picked up the slack with 29 points but it wasn’t enough as Neptune lost 71-63. With four starters back, the Fliers figure to come back with fire. It will help to get a transfer in Golden.
25. Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.)
Head coach: Annie Basic
2008-09 record: 30-6.
Standouts: Valerie Finnin (5-9, Sr., G), Jasmine Matthews (5-11, Jr., G), Emily Kobel (6-0, Sr., F), Simone Law (5-11, Jr., F).
Scouting report: A terrific backcourt led by Matthews should lead to another 30-win plus season but this time the Spartans are after an elusive state title. They lost a bitter 78-76 playoff game to Young to end their season. That should help to light a fire under the Spartans.
26. Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 26-1
27. Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) 27-1
28. Butler (Matheews, NC.) 30-2
29. Start (Toledo, Ohio) 22-4
30. Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
31. Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) 28-6
32. Mount Lebanon (Pittsburgh) 31-0
33. Norcross (Ga.) 23-7
34. ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 22-4
35. Memphis Central (Memphis, Tenn.) 35-2
36. North Little Rock (Ark.) 24-4
37. Vincent (Milwaukee) 25-1
38. Leflore (Mobile, Ala.) 23-2
39. University (Newark, N.J.) 20-5
40. East Lansing (Mich.) 26-1
41. Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.) 31-1
42. Hoover (Ala.) 29-6
43. Highland (Gilbert, Ariz.) 35-1
44. St. Mary’s (Phoenix, Ariz.) 26-3
45. Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.) 27-1
46. Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 22-4
47. Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) 31-1
48. Fayetteville (Ark.) 32-0
49. Hanford (Calif.) 26-5
50. Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.) 24-2