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There's a two-part process to becoming a member of the Xcellent 25: 1) Play good teams; 2) Beat them.
Our new No. 1, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, has followed that recipe to perfection. Even though Northern California (aside from Mitty and St. Mary's of Stockton) is not as strong as in the past, the San Jose Catholic school first played the best teams it could find in the area.
Then coach Sue Phillips, a gold-medal winner with USA Basketball, scheduled a trip to the usually loaded Nike TOC in Arizona, and hit the jackpot. Six of the top ten teams in the Xcellent 25 were in Gilbert, just south of Phoenix, including the three teams ranked ahead of previous No. 4 Mitty.
And then Archbishop Mitty beat all three, on consecutive nights.
That makes it pretty hard to argue with Mitty's No. 1 ranking, especially since No. 2 St. Mary's of Stockton will likely get a second shot at San Jose's finest in the Northern California playoffs in March. And though Mitty's schedule doesn't contain any more Xcellent 25 members, its league — the West Catholic Athletic League — is one of the strongest in the state and will provide challenges (if not major ones) pretty much every night.
Though the post-Christmas tournament schedule lacks the concentrated firepower of the Nike TOC, there are several major events that will presumably wind up matching members of the Xcellent 25, so there's still an opportunity for teams to do what Mitty did — that is, schedule good teams, and then beat them. And then watch their ranking rise.
(Note: Teams that wish to be recognized either locally or nationally should make sure their information – schedule, results, roster, coach, etc. – is up to date on MaxPreps. If you have any issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (Last week 4) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 9-0
Next up for Mitty is the West Coast Jamboree in Northern California, and though No. 2 St. Mary's of Stockton won't be there, challenges could come from teams such as Salesian of Richmond and Folsom.2. (2) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.), 9-1
St. Mary's had an easier road to the Nike TOC finals than Mitty, but its path at the Title IX Classic this week is filled with land mines — starting with No. 16 Long Island Lutheran on the opening day, and then, if form holds, No. 9 Riverdale Baptist in the semifinals. Oddly, there are no ranked teams on the other side of the bracket.3. (3) St. John's (Washington, D.C.), 8-1
After losing to Mitty by eight, St. John's responded by hammering No. 22 Sacred Heart and No. 23 Centennial by an average of 35 points. Though St. John's doesn't play again until Jan. 3, that game is a league matchup against No. 6 Paul VI.4. (1) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 13-1
After weather kept Riverdale from last year's TOC, this year there were no issues — except for the 64-50 loss to Mitty. Thumping No. 8 Riverdale Baptist the next day was an impressive bounceback, though Riverdale would be wise not to look past Collins Hill this Friday.5. (5) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 8-0
Christ the King has returned to national relevance with wins over No. 6 Paul VI and No. 16 Long Island Lutheran — and can enjoy its top-five status at least until Jan. 7, which is the date of its next game.6. (6) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 8-1
Paul VI should have little trouble at the Chris Sole Holiday Hoops Classic this weekend, but then will jump right into the brutal Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule with a Jan. 3 game against No. 3 St. John's.7. (7) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 11-1
Indiana may be the heart of American basketball but last Friday, it was where dreams of Indiana domination went to die. Hamilton Heights cruised into town and thumped No. 24 North Central, which was coming off a big win over previous No. 13 Carmel. The final was 62-34, in front of some very disappointed Indianapolis fans.8. (10) DeSoto (Texas), 15-0
We get complaints — yes, folks do actually disagree with us, hard as that may be to imagine — that DeSoto isn't the best team in Texas, and that No. 15 Duncanville should be in this spot. Note the "0" in the loss column for DeSoto — when that changes, let's talk again.9. (8) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 7-3
So how does a three-loss team stay in the Top 10? When the losses are to No. 2, No. 4 and No. 7, and there's a win over No. 22. And should Riverdale Baptist meet and beat No. 2 St. Mary's in the Title IX Classic, there will likely be a three-loss team in the top five.10. (11) Mercer County (Harrodsburg, Ky.), 9-1
Having lost only to No. 4 Riverdale, Mercer County can up its reputation even more by winning the Naples Holiday Shootout, which features some top teams from Florida and Georgia, including No. 25 Westlake. Oddly, though, most of those top teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from host Gulf Coast. Or maybe it isn't so odd …11. (12) Winter Haven (Fla.), 9-0
Though Winter Haven doesn't have any wins against Xcellent 25 members, it has zero losses overall – and has beaten some quality competition from up and down the East Coast. Winter Haven will continue playing tough competition, though unfortunately, no teams that are also ranked.12. (16) Southeast Raleigh (N.C.), 10-0
Southeast Raleigh jumps four spots, primarily because teams above them stumbled, but the opening game against 10-0 Neuse Christian in the John Wall Classic on Wednesday will be a chance to advance by winning rather than watching others lose.13. (17) Hoover (Ala.),15-0
It's been smooth sailing so far for Hoover. Aside from the Alabama competition that Hoover has already beaten, the biggest challenge will be Holy Innocents Episcopal on Jan. 13.14. (14) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.), 9-0
Like Hoover, Hopkins has rolled along this year, but unbeaten Eastview, a long-time rival, is on the schedule Friday on a neutral court.15. (NR) Duncanville (Texas), 18-1
Duncanville jumps into the rankings — belatedly, according to some — but still has that loss to an unranked team. The Sandra Meadows Classic will bring some top teams into Duncanville's gym, including No. 8 DeSoto, so the chance to move up the ladder is certainly there.16. (15) Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.), 3-2
Losses to No. 5 Christ the King and No. 6 Paul VI aren't exactly a badge of shame, but if redemption is on the wish list, a win over No. 2 St. Mary's of Stockton in the first round of the Title IX Classic would certainly be a nice post-Christmas present.17. (24) Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 6-0
Yes, this is the third team from the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference in the top 17 members of the Xcellent 25, but staying ranked will pretty much require winning the Ronald Curry/Boo Williams Christmas Classic, which also includes No. 19 Princess Anne.18. (18) Baldwin (N.Y.), 2-1
New Jersey teams start their season late, but that doesn't mean the teams aren't good. Baldwin, which lost to No. 3 St. John's in its first game of the season, will earn its place the rest of the way against a host of quality Garden State teams. 19. (20) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.), 8-1
The loss is to No. 16 Long Island Lutheran by three, but a win over No. 17 Bishop McNamara in the Ronald Curry/Boo Williams Christmas Classic would erase some of the sting.20. (NR) Edison Academy (Detroit), 3-0
Michigan's best jumps into the Xcellent 25 after just three games (another late-start state) in part because it managed to navigate the Michigan rules that make it hard to play out-of-state teams. The matchup against Africentric of Ohio in late January will be special.21. (NR) Roland Park Country (Baltimore), 10-1
The Nike TOC is so tough that even winning the second bracket can result in a national ranking — and Roland Park is proof. The only loss is to No. 7 Hamilton Heights, and slipping past Omaha Westside, 60-58, in the John Anderson title game gets Roland Park into the Xcellent 25.22. (21) Sacred Heart (Louisville, Ky.), 7-3
Another three-loss team finds a home in the Xcellent 25, and not surprisingly, the losses — No. 3 St. John's, No. 9 Riverdale Baptist and No. 10 Mercer County — are "good." But 7-1 Brentwood Academy is next, so the challenges are far from over.23. (22) Centennial (Las Vegas), 9-2
It's the same story for Centennial, which lost to No. 3 St. John's and No. 4 Riverdale, but Nevada won't be as difficult a landscape to navigate as Kentucky.24. (NR) North Central (Indianapolis), 14-1
It was all going so well for North Central after a home win over previous No. 13 Carmel, but then the girls from Tennessee showed up — and the 62-34 Hamilton Heights win was pretty definitive. Still, North Central's a good team, though the Indiana gauntlet won't be an easy one to run.25. (NR) Westlake (Atlanta), 9-0
Georgia lands a representative in the Xcellent 25, but the opening game in the Naples Holiday Shootout is against always tough Miami Country Day, so Westlake may learn the classic lesson: It's easier to get there than it is to stay there.Dropped Out:
No. 9 North Little Rock, No. 13 Carmel, No. 19 Franklin, No. 23 Mesquite, No. 25 Mater Dei.