There's no doubt Breanna Stewart is the best prep player in the country this season, but there's also an argument to be made that she had one of the best years ever at the high school level.
Stewart, who is 6-foot-3 (reportedly with a wingspan of someone 6-10), led Cicero-North Syracuse to the New York Federation title and a 21-3 overall record, but that hardly tells the story of the team's No. 10 position in the Xcellent 25. Taking nothing away from her hard-working and skilled teammates, Stewart is still the lone elite player on Cicero-North Syracuse, while most teams in the rankings have multiple players who will go on to earn Division I scholarships.
Stewart pretty much did everything for the Northstars, who without her would have been a nice local team that would have competed for the league title. With her, though, they were on a level with the best teams in the country, teams with five or more Division I players or teams with McDonald's All-Americans (like her) who were surrounded by future collegians.
Not surprisingly, Stewart will take her skills - offensive and defensive - to Connecticut, where it's likely she will become yet another in the long line of stars to play for the Huskies. But regardless of what happens there, no one who saw her and Cicero-North Syracuse play will forget her transcendent 2011-12 season.MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (1 last week) St. Mary's (Phoenix) (30-0)*
Season complete.2. (2) Whitney Young (Chicago) (34-0)*
Season complete.3. (3) McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) (33-0)*
Season complete.4. (4) Duncanville (Texas) (39-1)*
Season complete.5. (5) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) (36-2)
The fourth-annual ESPN National High School Invitational will most likely lose some of its luster this weekend as both Riverdale's Jonquel Jones
and Edgewater of Florida's Alexis Prince may miss the event due to the McDonald's All-American game. But the Crusaders' impressive depth still marks them as the favorites.
6. (6) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) (34-3)*Nirra Fields
had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Monarchs rolled over Berkeley, 57-40, in California's Division I championship. But equal credit should go to Alexas Williamson
, who shut down Berkeley star Elisha Davis.7. (8) Bolingbrook (Ill.) (26-2)*
Season complete.8. (7) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) (34-3)*
Bolingbrook beat Riverdale head-to-head, and an early-season loss to Memphis Central led to this slight adjustment.9. (9) La Jolla Country Day (Calif.) (33-1)
The Torreys simply overmatched Salesian in the California Division IV title game as Kelsey Plum
poured in 32 points. The 31-point win capped perhaps the best season ever for San Diego's preeminent program.10. (15) Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.) (21-3)*
Against previous No. 20 Nazareth, Stewart had 42 points and 22 rebounds as the Northstars overwhelmed the Kingsmen, 80-55. It wasn't necessarily a surprise that Cicero-North Syracuse won the semifinal game, but the margin of victory certainly was. And then Stewart topped off her season with 22 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks in the title game victory over Murry Bergtraum.11. (10) Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) (30-4)*
Cicero-North Syracuse's lopsided win over Nazareth bumped the Northstars up to No. 10, which meant several teams moved down even though they didn't play.
12. (11) DuPont Manual (Louisville, Ky.) (37-2)*
Season complete.13. (12) Hoover (Ala.) (31-3)*
Season complete.14. (13) Twinsburg (Ohio) (25-3)*
Season complete.15. (14) MacArthur (Irving, Texas) (35-3)*
Season complete.16. (16) South Medford (Ore.) (30-0)*
Season complete.17. (17) Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) (29-3)
The Panthers will be challenged by H.D. Woodson, which has done very well against teams without size in the paint - and Dr. Phillips fits that description.18. (19) Science Hill (Johnson City, Tenn.) (38-1)*
Season complete.19. (22) Heights (Wichita, Kan.) (25-0)*
Season complete.20. (23) Goodrich (Mich.) (28-0)*
Season complete.21. (23) Edmond Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) (28-0)*
Season complete.22. (24) Oakton (Vienna, Va.) (31-0)*
Season complete.23. (21) Seton LaSalle (Pittsburgh) (30-0)
It took 28 years, but the Rebels finally recorded their second PIAA state title, this time beating York Catholic. But the team's best win, over Oakland Catholic, lost some of its luster when Archbishop Carroll beat the Eagles badly in the AAAA finals.24. (25) Reynoldsburg (Ohio) (26-1)*
Season complete.25. (nr) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.) (31-1)*
Hopkins returns to the rankings after avenging its only loss (the Royals wound up beating Wayzata twice) and winning their three playoff games by an average of 22.7 points.Dropped out:
No. 20 Nazareth*Season complete