Video: Game winner at the buzzer in Ohio
See Kennedy Schlabach nail a game-winning, 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Ohio Division IV semifinals.
The high school basketball season winds down like a semi truck downshifting on a steep hill – the momentum slows in fits and starts, but does not stop until the last few miles per hour are bled away.
At this point in the season, there are only a few state championships left to decide, followed by the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Championships in New York City on March 31 and April 1.
The biggest game this weekend is in California, where the Open Division championship will be settled Saturday night by No. 5 Archbishop Mitty and No. 7 Clovis West. The Open Division is a recent addition to the California playoffs, and it's a welcome one. If the old enrollment-based divisions were in place, Mitty would've been playing for the Division II title and Clovis West would be playing for the Division I crown. Instead, the state is trying to promote competitive equity by placing teams in divisions according to their performance on the court rather than the number of students who clog up the parking lot.
Unfortunately for Dick's Sporting Goods, few states will allow their teams to compete in the national event because it just comes too late in the season. Many high school state championships are complete by the second week in March, and some are even done at the end of February. This means that teams would have to stay in basketball mode for several extra weeks, delaying the transition to spring sports, as well as extending a season that for many schools begins with September practices.
Still, this year's event will feature four teams in the top 15 – Miami Country Day, St. Francis, Hamilton Heights and Seton Catholic – and though not exactly a national championship, it's still a high-quality event that will most likely shuffle the final version of the Xcellent 25. And so will Saturday's Mitty-Clovis West game, which by the way will be televised by Comcast along with all the other California title matchups.
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (1) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 34-0
Despite missing out on the Nike TOC, Riverdale's claim to the top spot is well supported – no losses, tough schedule, lots of talent.2. (2) St. John's (Washington, D.C.), 30-2
A puzzling loss to No. 7 Clovis West in the Nike TOC is all that kept St. John's from having a serious shot at the No. 1 ranking.3. (3) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 32-2
Two losses in three tries to St. John's puts them this low; a win over No. 4 Centennial keeps them this high.4. (4) Centennial (Las Vegas), 30-2
Centennial traveled all over the country and proved that the perennial Nevada power is also a legitimate national power.5. (5) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 28-2
Archbishop Mitty got a little help with an upset in the NorCal Open semifinals, and then took care of business. Next up is the rematch of the Iolani tournament final against No. 7 Clovis West, which Mitty won by one – in overtime.6. (6) Monacan (Richmond, Va.), 30-0Megan Walker
and company went unbeaten against a solid schedule, and if you notice, there aren't that many unbeaten teams left, regardless of strength of schedule.7. (7) Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.), 33-2
Clovis West has a case to make – its overall record should offset the one-point loss to No. 5 Archbishop Mitty – but since the two meet on the court in Saturday's California Open final, no verbiage really matters.8. (8) Miami Country Day (Miami), 29-1
Miami Country Day will put this ranking on the line in the Dick's National High School Championships in New York City on March 31 and April 1. First up is No. 14 Seton Catholic.9. (9) Grandview (Aurora, Colo.), 27-1
An overtime loss to Miami Country Day in the Nike TOC is all that keeps from Grandview from being considered for No. 1 in the nation.10. (10) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.), 30-0
St. Frances opted to play in the second bracket of the Title IX tournament, but will get a chance to prove just how good it really is in the Dick's National High School Championships. No. 11 Hamilton Heights is the first opponent.11. (11) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 28-1
Hamilton Heights would have loved a shot at No. 1 Riverdale, but arrangements could not be made. Instead, the No. 11 team will take on No. 10 St. Frances in the first round of the Dick's National High School Championships.12. (13) Fayetteville (Ark.), 30-2
That win over Duncanville at Duncanville is an impressive one – and so is winning Arkansas against plenty of quality opposition.13. (15) Duncanville (Texas), 39-2
The best in Texas … as usual.14. (19) Seton Catholic (Chandler, Ariz.), 29-3
Seton Catholic is the lowest ranked of the four teams at the Dick's National High School Championships March 31 and April 1 – and thus has the most to gain. No. 8 Miami Country Day is first on the agenda.15. (16) Ursuline Academy (Wilmington, Del.), 22-1
Ursuline is the class of the Northeast, but its loss came to Wisconsin runner up King.16. (21) Canyon (Texas), 31-3
It's no shame to be the second-best team in Texas, which is one of the toughest states in the country. 17. (23) Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.), 28-2
Homestead got a boost when Notre Dame Academy – a team it beat – was the runnerup in Ohio's largest-school bracket.18. (14) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), 27-4
Yes, four losses is a lot, but Poly traveled from Hawaii to Washington, D.C., to Arizona to Massachusetts and lost only to No. 5 Clovis West (twice), No. 8 Miami Country Day and No. 14 Seton Catholic.19. (NR) Elk River (Minn.), 32-0
Elk River jumps into the rankings thanks to a 64-60 win over previous No. 17, and previously unbeaten, Hopkins. Five seniors started for the first Elk River team ever to win a state championship.20. (20) Destrehan (La.), 35-0
A top 20 ranking and a 35-0 season made for a satisfying season in the Pelican State.21. (NR) Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), 26-1
Detroit Country Day returns to the Xcellent 25 after winning its 12th straight Michigan title – in coach Frank Orlando's 50th season as coach.22. (22) Norcross (Ga.), 29-3
Despite losing the state title game to McEachern, the overall body of work for Norcross justifies a spot in the Xcellent 25.23. (24) Appleton North (Wis.), 28-0
Appleton North beat King, which handed No. 15 Ursuline its only loss. Too bad Appleton North didn't get to play a team of Ursuline's caliber.24. (25) Northwest Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.), 29-2
North Carolina had a group of quality teams that duked it out during the season, and Northwest Guilford was the one left standing at the end.25. (NR) North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.), 28-1
North Allegheny joins the fun after advancing to the Pennsylvania 6A finals. Boyertown is the final hurdle for North Allegheny, which lost only to Pine-Richland, but later avenged that loss. Dropped out:
No. 13 Rutgers Prep, No. 17 Hopkins, No. 18 Newark OH