With previous No. 21 Miami getting knocked off by Fremont of Utah in the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Tournament, the last spot in the Xcellent 25 now belongs to Pius VI from the always strong DMV area.
Now players and coaches move on to the club season, which has already started for many — and the main focus of high schools is setting up next year's schedule. And for those with dreams of national rankings, finding those out-of-state opportunities should be at the top of the list.
As the saying goes: If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Final MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (1) Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 34-1
Blackman lost only to No. 2 Incarnate Word, and returns almost everyone. The biggest issue for the Blaze will be that huge target on their backs, as they are almost guaranteed to start next year as No. 1 in the nation.2. (2) Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis) 31-1
A great, great year for MaxPreps Coach of the Year candidate Dan Rolfes and IWA. Though there are losses to graduation, Napheesa Collier
returns and the drop-off may not be as steep as many expect.3. (3) Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 26-2
Carl Mattei had his best team — out of many very good ones — this past year, and a No. 3 ranking is something to be more than a little proud of. Next year will be harder, though ...4. (4) Long Beach Poly (Calif.) 27-3
Long Beach Poly is always loaded with talent, and there's no reason to expect that to change. Carl Buggs just wins and wins and wins, and look for the Jackrabbits to be in the top 10 next year as well.5. (5) Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) 27-3
Lots coming back for Rock Bridge, and if the past is any guide, the schedule will be ambitious and the results impressive. Too bad Rock Bridge and Incarnate Word are in different divisions in Missouri.
6. (6) Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) 30-1
With Aliyah Mazyck
and Rydeiah Rogers
both back next year, veteran coach Barbara Nelson should be right back in the mix.7. (7) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 29-3
Riverdale Baptist came from 19 down in the second half to beat Edgewater at the buzzer in the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Tournament and then rolled over Fremont in Madison Square Garden to complete another top 10 season.8. (8) Whitney Young (Chicago) 29-3
Corry Irvin has established Whitney Young as the most consistent program in Illinois, as year in and year out, the Dolphins swim with the big fish. Don't expect a letdown in 2014-15.9. (9) Bedford North Lawrence (Bedford, Ind.) 27-1
Though six seniors graduate, the big guns are back for Bedford North Lawrence. Here's hoping every effort is made to schedule elite out-of-state competition.10. (10) Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 33-1
Senior-dominated Shabazz rolled through New Jersey, but don't expect coach Vanessa Watson to settle for a big drop-off. Shabazz will still be a tough out.11. (11) Manvel (Texas) 38-2
Knocking off No. 12 Duncanville in the game that really mattered was sweet indeed for Manvel — but a lot of talent will get their diplomas this spring.12. (12) Duncanville (Texas) 33-1
There is nothing at all for Duncanville to be depressed about. Winning 105 games in a row at the highest level in Texas is an incredible accomplishment, and should be justly celebrated for years to come.13. (13) Windward (Los Angeles) 24-3
It was fun while it lasted …
and Kristen Simon
fueled a great three-year run at Windward, but with those two graduating, it's going to be hard for a small school like this one to run with the big dogs in Southern California.14. (14) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 26-3
That 26-3 record and this No. 14 ranking would seem to be the emblems of a very good year, but the standards are high in Santa Ana. With Katie Lou Samuelson
and lots of supporting talent back next year, coach Kevin Kiernan will expect better.15. (15) McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) 28-2
With Te'a Cooper
and Caliya Robinson
both back next year, McEachern should be the class of the Southeast — and with proper scheduling and a couple big wins, could be top 10 material.16. (16) New Hope Christian Academy (Thomasville, N.C.) 32-1
New Hope's schedule didn't match its talent this year. We'll see if Delaney Rudd upgrades in 2014-15, even though a lot of talented players graduated.17. (17) Salmen (Slidell, La.) 32-1Megan Brown
graduates but Kalani Brown
returns, so look for Salmen to be strong again. Hopefully, there will be some strong out-of-state teams on the schedule next year.18. (18) Princeton (Cincinnati) 28-2Kelsey Mitchell
had a spectacular season, but she and her twin sister are graduating — which means the door is open in Ohio.19. (19) Cosby (Midlothian, Va.) 27-0
Cosby came out of nowhere to finish in the top 20, but with its top players moving on, it will be tough to return to the Xcellent 25.20. (20) Montini (Lombard, Ill.) 34-2
Many states are moving to a system that moves teams up and out of the divisions their enrollment would dictate if they are exceptionally successful. That applies to Montini, which will be a 4A team next year, and compete with Whitney Young and Homewood-Flossmoor.21. (22) Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 26-0
This young team will bring almost everyone back, so an upgrade in the schedule would seem mandatory. Beating up on Maryland opposition would simply get boring.
22. (23) Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) 30-7Mariya Moore
took this program on a great ride, and though Salesian will still be good, a return visit to the Xcellent 25 is unlikely.23. (24) South (Wichita, Kan.) 24-1
South has won two straight state titles, and returns three starters, so the dynasty could continue. Getting an out-of-state game or two would seem like a good idea.24. (25) Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 28-4
All but one player returns for a team that was right up there with the best in Southern California — and the nation. But as always, Southern California will be loaded, so gaudy records are hard to come by.25. (NR) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 29-5
Paul VI ran off 17 straight wins to conclude the season, and every one of its losses was to a quality team. It would have been great if Paul VI and No. 21 Eleanor Roosevelt would have played, though.Dropped out:
No. 21 Miami (Fla.)