The cycle of the high school season is on the downswing this week, as teams settle into league play and take a weekend to relax before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day shootouts begin.
Still, there are some crucial games — and there will likely be local upsets — so any member of the Top 25 that takes it too easy this week could wind up filling in the blank in the "Dropped out" section. And yes, that was a blank this week, and there was only minimal movement. Centennial (Las Vegas) moved to No. 5 by knocking off previous No. 4 Windward (Los Angeles), but its strength of schedule doesn't quite match that of new No. 4 St. John's (Washington, D.C.).
Maine West (Del Plaines, Ill.), now at No. 18, took advantage of No. 19 St. John-Vianney's loss to St. John's by rolling over traditional Illinois power Montini Catholic, but otherwise, the pot didn't get stirred too much last week.
But as the old movie cliché goes, it's quiet out there — too quiet.
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MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings presented by the Army National Guard
After getting by dangerous Paul VI and Manchester Township, Bishop McNamara's schedule finally gets a little less daunting — but in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play, which is what McNamara is dealing with now, there are no easy games.
Now that MCD has survived one of the most grueling preseasons in recent memory, it gets a bit of a breather before heading to Pennsylvania for two tough games over Martin Luther King Day Jr. weekend.
Africentric handled Chicago's Kenwood last week, and now settles into league play for a couple weeks — which basically means the clock will run in the fourth quarter.
The Cadets took care of business against No. 19 St. John-Vianney over the weekend, but like Bishop McNamara, testing will continue in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
Centennial traveled to Arizona for the Nike TOC, then traveled to Southern California for a one-off with previous No. 4 Windward — which turned into a 61-49 victory — and in two weeks, heads to Northern California for some more quality competition. In between, the Silver State's best will beat up on the locals.
Edison went to Illinois and handled Benet (once ranked in the Top 25) and Bolingbrook. Back in Michigan, things won't be quite as challenging.
Yes, three losses are a lot for a No. 7 team at this point in the season, but losing to No. 2 and No. 4 hardly count — and the other loss was avenged. Next Tuesday, however, No. 16 Sierra Canyon shows up on the schedule.
New Hope hasn't ducked anyone, anywhere, all season — once-ranked Long Island Lutheran was the latest victim, and on Jan. 18, No. 21 Regis Jesuit is the opponent.
There's just not much left on the Hamilton Heights' schedule — at least in terms of national-level opponents — so even winning out won't move the Tennessee team much higher.
Monona Grove is 15-1 and could well be Beaver Dam's toughest test until postseason. Every once in a while, Wisconsin has a bunch of good teams, but this isn't one of those whiles.
Tuesday, the Reds draw rival St. Frances, which has spent some time in the Top 25 this year, but looking past Frederick on Saturday could be a major mistake.
The Wolves keep rolling along, and though there are plenty of good players and good teams in Texas, it will be serious upset if Timberview loses before postseason.
There are several teams that are always good in Arkansas — Northside is certainly one, and so is 14-2 Conway. The two teams meet Tuesday, at Conway, and Northside's ranking will be in peril.
Pikesville, Saturday's opponent, is pretty good, and Riverdale Baptist, Tuesday's opponent, is even better — and note that a four-loss team's hold on a spot in the Top 25 is very tenuous.
There was a time that New York City girls' basketball was a minefield, but that time has passed. Christ the King, though, will play California's Mater Dei (ranked early in the year) and No. 19 St. John-Vianney of New Jersey over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
Some question whether Sierra Canyon's 17-0 record was amassed by playing less-than-stellar opposition. That question will be answered when Sierra Canyon takes that perfect record to No. 7 Windward's home gym Tuesday.
Mount Notre Dame will earn its spot in the Top 25 this week, hosting once-ranked Ryle on Thursday and 14-2 Centerville on Saturday.
Sometimes you sit down for that big test and the answers just come — even the essay questions roll right onto the page. Maine West 61, Montini Catholic 34 would be an example of just such an experience.
By season's end, St. John-Vianney will have logged plenty of games, but because of New Jersey's very late start, it's still catch-up time. But by Jan. 18, when No. 15 Christ the King is the opponent, there will be no excuses.
Riverdale's schedule has not been arduous — the best win was a 14-pointer over Lovejoy, a strong Georgia team. But in the only matchup with a Top 25 opponent, Riverdale lost by 41. Thus the drop to No. 20.
Regis Jesuit plays the two toughest teams in its league — Legend and Highlands Ranch — late in the season, so what better way to spice up the chilly Colorado winter than flying to New York to play No. 14 New Hope over MLK weekend?
Heritage earned its spot with a 50-49 win over previously ranked St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), but will have to work hard to keep it as North Carolina has its fair share of quality teams.
Pinewood will put its ranking on the line with a visit to Northern California power Carondelet, which has a lot more size than Pinewood, and a 12-2 record against much-more-than-token opposition. Oh, and the gym is tiny, so the home-court advantage will be real.
Hopkins travels to once-beaten Eden Prairie next Tuesday in one of its more challenging games before postseason play. But note that Eden Prairie's one loss was to a 4-8 team.
Germantown went to Louisiana and laid waste to the Bayou State's best to maintain its ranking. But Archbishop Wood has played a brutal intersectional schedule and would like nothing more than to redeem its season with an upset on Sunday.Dropped out: