As expected, the Nike TOC in Phoenix did a number on last week's Xcellent 25 – at least No. 1 and No. 2 both reached the finals.
But, in the spirit of the event, even that didn't play out as expected, as No. 2 St. Mary's beat No. 1 Riverdale Baptist, 79-69
, in a game that featured 84 free throws, a coach knocked unconscious by a flying player and more contact than a lot of high school football games.
After that, though, chaos reigned. Windward of California dropped out of the Xcellent 25 two weeks ago after losing to Brea-Olinda by four in the finals of the Ladycats' tournament, with coach Steve Smith not on the sidelines as his job as athletic director at Windward required him to be at a football playoff. When the two teams met again, Windward won by 25, which is one of the two ways teams can erase losses to unranked teams: The first is to beat a ranked team, and the second is to avenge the loss.
Windward did both of those, starting with the win over Brea, and then beating previous No. 5 MacArthur of Texas, previous No. 15 Marion County of Kentucky and upstart Cicero-North of New York.
And yes, that's Cicero-North, led by the best high school player in the country (6-foot-3 UConn-bound forward Breanna Stewart
) right there at No. 4. The Northstars knocked off previous No. 3 Bolingbrook at the TOC as well as previous No. 9 Dr. Phillips before falling to Riverdale Baptist and Windward.
The other unranked team to jump into the Top 10 was La Jolla Country Day of California, which won the second bracket at the TOC with ease, beating Holy Cross of Maryland in the finals. That adds even more fuel to the fire of the Southern California rivalry between Windward and Country Day, which could play each other as many as four times before the season is complete.
Missing from the Top 10 is Spring Valley of South Carolina, which lost to Norcross of Georgia by one in the Crescent Bank Invitational final, and since Hoover hammered Norcross a couple weeks ago, the Alabama team must go ahead of both Norcross and Spring Valley.
Two other notable results: Riverdale of Tennessee avenged an earlier loss to Memphis Central, and Twinsburg of Ohio slipped past Detroit Country Day to return to the Xcellent 25.
There are some good tournaments the week after Christmas, but not as titanic as the Nike TOC – and though they will affect the rankings, they won't run them through a food processor like the TOC did.MAXPREPS XCELLENT 25 NATIONAL GIRLS BASKETBALL RANKINGS PRESENTED BY THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD1. (2) St. Mary's (Phoenix), 10-02. (1) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 8-1 3. (nr) Windward (Los Angeles), 8-14. (nr) Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.), 4-2 5. (3) Bolingbrook (Ill.), 6-1 6. (6) McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), 9-07. (13) Whitney Young (Chicago), 9-08. (nr) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.), 8-09. (8) Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2-0 10. (10) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 7-1 11. (5) MacArthur (Irving, Texas), 20-212. (16) Shabazz (Newark, N.J.), 2-0
13. (19) Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), 7-214. (nr) Academy of the Holy Cross (Kensington, Md.), 6-115. (17) Marion County (Lebanon, Ky.), 8-2 16. (23) St. Joseph's Academy (St. Louis), 8-117. (18) Central Catholic (Portland, Ore.), 7-018. (nr) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 9-219. (nr) Hoover (Ala.), 10-220. (11) Norcross (Ga.), 6-221. (7) Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.), 9-122. (9) Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), 10-323. (24) Memphis Central (Tenn.), 4-324. (nr) Twinsburg (Ohio), 5-225. (15) Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), 4-1Dropped out:
No. 4 St. John's
No. 12 Buford
No. 14 Potter's House Christian
No. 20 Providence Day
No. 22 Konawaena
No. 23 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)
No. 25 Bishop O'Dowd