Here's what it comes down to: Miami Country Day 44, St. John's 41. On a neutral court at the Nike TOC in Arizona.
Yes, St. John's (Washington, D.C.) just outlasted previous No. 1 Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) 67-65 in overtime at a packed Bishop McNamara gym, and yes, Miami Country Day (Miami) has a loss to an unranked team (Tampa Bay Tech).
But when the two teams played, Miami Country Day got the win. And then Miami Country Day went on to win the most competitive tournament in the country.
Aside from that, there's really little to choose between these two quality teams. Though the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is still strong, it's not nearly as good as it was a couple years ago, so St. John's isn't being tested as often as in the past. And Miami Country Day is doing what it can, including a trip to Pennsylvania to play two quality teams in their home gyms this past weekend.
And of course, Bishop McNamara isn't out of the No. 1-in-the-nation picture either, as there are very likely two more rounds left in the McNamara-St. John's slugfest (though the next one will be at St. John's).
That means, barring a huge upset, that the national champion will be one of those three teams, leaving potentially unbeaten teams like No. 4 Africentric Early College (Columbus, Ohio) and No. 5 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) on the outside looking in. In Africentric's case, there are travel and financial limitations, and though Sierra Canyon did travel, California's top team did not go to the Nike TOC — making the bottom line the fact that neither has faced the same level of competition as the top four.
Of course, if history is any guide, all of this will fall apart down the stretch and some unexpected candidate — like Central Valley (Spokane Valley, Wash.) last year — will wind up at No. 1. Then again, that's what makes it fun ...
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MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings presented by the Army National Guard
Continued its tour of the United States by flying to Pennsylvania to beat No. 24. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) by 18 — in its home gym — and talented Neumann-Goretti 63-43, also in its home gym. And there are still more quality opponents to come.
may only be a sophomore, but many consider her to be the best player in the country — and all she did against Bishop McNamara was score the last four points of regulation and the final six for St. John's in overtime in a 67-55 win.
As someone once pointed out, it's a make-it-or-miss-it game, and Bishop McNamara didn't hit its first 3-pointer until late in the second half. So despite an effective press and a little more depth, Bishop McNamara is left looking for revenge.
Had to pull out of the Classic in the Country due to the school administration's concern about traveling in bad weather, so a chance to play now-No. 16 Hamilton Heights went by the wayside. And lacking that quality game, and given St. John's win, Africentric drops a spot.
Usually California has several entries in the Top 25, but as of now, unbeaten Sierra Canyon is the only one. But Redondo Union, Saturday's opponent, has only lost twice and could conceivably erase the Golden State from this list completely.
Traveled to Northern California for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, and laid waste to three quality California teams. That one loss came at the Nike TOC when three starters did not play due to repeated tardiness.
Please note that the MaxPreps' record includes a win and a loss for a second varsity team that plays for Edison. The actual mark for the top team is 11-1, with the only defeat at the hands of No. 4 Africentric.
New Hope hasn't ducked anyone all year, and after disposing of Colorado's top-rated team, previously ranked Regis Jesuit, 57-32, the next three games — South Shore, St. Laurent and Riverdale Baptist — are all quality opponents as well.
The DMV has been the center of high school girls' basketball for the last several years, and Roland Park is the third team from that area in this week's Top 10. But with another local power, McDonogh, on the schedule next Monday, the stay could be brief.
Should coast through the rest of the regular season, and as a Division 2 team, will not face Milwaukee King and the other Division 1 powers in postseason. Still, once-beaten Monona Grove will be a D-2 challenge, along with New Berlin Eisenhower.
It doesn't appear that the league opponents — which are all Mansfield Timberview has left before playoffs begin — will be much of a challenge, but the long road of the Texas postseason will not be an easy one.
As no other team in Maine West's league has single-digit losses, and its only challenging non-league game, Marist, isn't until Feb. 7, the anxiety meter should stay pretty low for the next couple weeks.
Over the years, Arkansas basketball has been noteworthy for the number of times that what appear to be simple league games have derailed nationally ranked teams. Northside will work hard to avoid that fate, but then again, so have the others before it.
A major win over No. 16 Hamilton Heights balances out a loss to unranked Centerville, so Mount Notre Dame hangs on to the No. 14 spot. Any loss from here on out, however, will not be treated so kindly.
Looks to be the best in a somewhat down New York state this season, though the fact that National Christian Academy — which beat Christ the King — has dropped out of the Xcellent 25 is cause for some concern about this ranking.
On the one hand, Hamilton Heights got lucky that snow kept No. 4 Africentric from getting to the Classic in the Country, so Hamilton Heights got a play a quality opponent. On the other hand, that quality opponent — No. 14 Mount Notre Dame — beat Hamilton Heights 59-52.
Faces another major challenge Sunday when once-beaten, and very talented, Saddle River Day shows up on the schedule. And the rescheduled game with No. 15 Christ the King is Jan. 31.
Though Riverdale will travel to Kentucky to play Mercy on Sunday, Mercy isn't quite at the level it was a few years ago — and the rest of the regular season should pose few problems.
Yes, we know Cedar Hill lost to Duncanville twice, and so there's a case to be made that Duncanville should be in this spot instead of Cedar Hill. But Cedar Hill has a stronger strength of schedule, won Duncanville's own tournament and has one fewer loss.
Becker has just two losses, and is coming to Hopkins next Tuesday, but the big game — the first of two, actually — will be against Wayzata on Feb. 1.
Putnam City West jumps four spots after edging previously unbeaten Classen, and is unlikely to drop until postseason — but at that point Edmond North and Norman North come into the picture, and wins will be much harder to come by.
So far, so good — but a trip to Kentucky this weekend, and games against two teams that each spent some time in the Xcellent 25 (National Christian Academy and Riverdale Baptist) are on the schedule the week after. St. Joseph Central will definitely have to work to keep this ranking.
Southridge returns to the Top 25, as two of its three losses were to No. 2 St. John's and No. 15 Christ the King. The other, to Tigard, is harder to explain, but wins over Northern California's top team, Archbishop Mitty, and San Diego's best, La Jolla Country Day, speak to Southridge's level of play.
It's no disgrace to lose to the No. 1 team in the country, though Germantown had most likely hoped to do better than lose to Miami Country Day by 18 (74-56) on its home court.
Princess Anne has ravaged its Virginia opponents, and the only loss is to No. 8 New Hope, so its weak schedule isn't as damaging as it might be. Still, a couple more quality opponents would have been nice.Dropped out:
No. 16 Windward (Los Angeles), No. 17 National Christian Academy (Fort Washington, Md.), No. 21 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.), No. 22 Heritage (Wake Forest, N.C.)