Video: Final Top 25 girls basketball rankingsLa Jolla Country Day is crowned National Champion.
In the end, it came down to strength of schedule — and the only way to compare teams from thousands of miles away is by using the MaxPreps SOS algorithm.
First, no algorithm is perfect, so there's certainly room for debate — but then again, the eye test gives different results in different games. A team can look wonderful one night, and it's easy to think "Oh, that's a No. 1 team." But another person, watching the same team miss shots a few nights later, could easily think, "Please – they're not even top five."
Add in the geographical uncertainty about whether Southern California is really better than Texas or the DMV, or if some of those Minnesota teams Hopkins beat could compete nationally, and there's another reason to fall back to something objective, like a computer ranking, even if it does have some flaws.
So in the end, despite the incomplete postseason play, La Jolla Country Day winds up as the 2019-20 MaxPreps National Champion behind the coaching of Terri Bamford and wonderful play of Te-Hina Paopao
Hamilton Heights did what it could in preseason, but when 2020 arrived, top-shelf opponents were just too hard to find, and when the GEICO National High School Championship was canceled, there was no way to make up any ground.
The two unbeaten teams with high-level talent — Mount Notre Dame and Hopkins — had limited opportunities due to state travel rules, and though nothing would have been better than to see both in the same bracket with other Top 10 teams in an out-of-state tournament, it just couldn't happen.
All that said, La Jolla Country Day is a worthy national champion, having traveled to play elite competition, won a major tournament (the Nike TOC, still the most prestigious in the country) and battled through the Southern California Regional Open before the season was stopped. There was little else the Torreys could have done, except gone unbeaten, but even one loss can't dim the brilliance of a spectacular season for San Diego's finest.
Past MaxPreps National Champions
MaxPreps Top 25 national high school basketball rankings
The Torreys didn't get to play the California Open title game against Archbishop Mitty, so maybe there's some doubt. But then again, maybe there isn't, because the two teams played at the Nike TOC in Phoenix and LJCD won 62-54 — case closed?
The key to the season was a committee decision that prevented California teams from playing schools like Hamilton Heights, which isn't an "official" Tennessee-sanctioned high school. So instead of being in the same bracket with No. 1 La Jolla Country Day at the Nike TOC, Hamilton Heights was in a separate bracket with schools in similar situations. And in the end, Hamilton Heights just didn't quite play as tough a schedule as California's best.
Strength of schedule is a computer-generated formula, and thus there are always questions — but No. 1 La Jolla Country Day had a SOS of 29.4, second-best in the country to Rosary's 31.4. Mount Notre Dame, travel-restricted by state rules, was at 22.8.
Hopkins could have done a little more, but chose not to — and despite loads of talent and another dominant season, a strength of schedule of 21.1 can't be set aside. Just a couple games against elite teams might have been enough.
A change in coaches couldn't derail the Panthers' train, and 40 wins is an exceptional achievement, especially with one of them over No. 7 Bishop McNamara. Someday, though, we're hoping Duncanville will play a game outside the state of Texas.
A four-point home loss to No. 19 Riverdale Baptist was all that stood between Long Island Lutheran and unbeaten season as LuHi bounced back from a disappointing 2018-19 to put together the school's best season.
Five losses is a lot for a Top 10 team, but Bishop McNamara balanced those losses with some impressive wins, most notably over No. 10 Trenton Catholic Academy and No. 11 Paul VI.
Edison Academy remains a mystery, though clearly a very talented one. Like Hamilton Heights, Edison was denied an opportunity to play in a major showcase and had to settle for rolling through Michigan once again. We can only speculate how good they would've been otherwise.
Though Tennessee was down a bit this year, it still has plenty of quality teams, and Ensworth beat them all. Add to that wins over one of Alabama's best (Madison Academy), one of Florida's best (Miami Country Day) and one of Pennsylvania's best (Germantown Academy), and you come up with a very impressive season.
The moment of truth for Trenton Catholic was going to come in New Jersey's Tournament of Champions, which never took place — but with the only loss at the hands of No. 7 Bishop McNamara, and plenty of wins against quality New Jersey competition, the Top 10 makes sense.
The only hiccup was the loss to Bishop O'Connell, a team Paul VI wound up beating three other times. Defeats at the hands of No. 6 Long Island Lutheran and No. 7 Bishop McNamara (twice, against one win) are understandable. Still, another great year for PVI.
Of the 41 wins, only eight were by fewer than 16 points, which is a simply incredible achievement, even in a down year for the Houston area. The only loss, in the Texas 6A final, was to No. 5 Duncanville.
St. Joseph Central spent the vast majority of the season outside the state of West Virginia, and lost only to No. 3 Mount Notre Dame, 80-72. In fact, St. Joseph Central played only four home games all season, which makes that 22-1 record even more impressive.
Though Westlake didn't have any wins against teams that wound up in the Top 25, Georgia's best did have quality wins in Nevada and Florida en route to the AAAAAAA state title.
Who says it's all about offense? As it turned out, holding No. 16 Lake Highland Prep to 43 points and No. 17 Southeast Raleigh to 31 points were the keys to the season, as they offset a couple of local losses and kept a very talented Panthers team in the Top 15.
Lake Highland Prep proved itself to be the best in Florida by beating Miami Country Day, Tampa Bay Tech, St. Thomas Aquinas and Montverde (to avenge a loss), and added a few quality intersectional wins to earn the No. 16 slot.
Southeast Raleigh dominated North Carolina but went ice cold against No. 15 St. Frances Academy, losing 34-31. Some solid out-of-state wins kept Southeast Raleigh in the Top 20 despite not much competition in the Tar Heel State.
In the cutthroat world of Southern California basketball, Windward came on strong late to get the Southern California Regional Open final, only to run into No. 1 La Jolla Country Day.
As it turned out, St. John-Vianney's only top-shelf win, against Riverdale Baptist, was enough for a No. 19 ranking. Like No. 10 Trenton Catholic, St. John-Vianney's big test was never taken, as the New Jersey TOC was never played.
It all came crashing down in the first round of the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament, when last year's national champion New Hope Academy not only squashed Riverdale Baptist's hopes on getting invited to the GEICO National High School Championships, but knocked them off their perch at No. 5 in the nation.
The quest for 60 straight wins and a second straight Pennsylvania title was stopped by the coronavirus, but back-to-back unbeaten seasons is certainly some consolation.
If not for Fairmont, No. 2 Hamilton Heights would be celebrating a national championship right now, but way back in December, Fairmont pulled off a 53-46 upset. Fairmont then beat two of the teams that managed to knock the Kettering school off, but couldn't get past No. 3 Mount Notre Dame in the Division I title game.
DeSoto is young and talented, and though next year might be the one fans are excited about, this year wasn't half bad either. Two of the losses were to No. 5 Duncanville (DeSoto also had a win over the state champ) and another was to 31-5 South Grand Prairie, which DeSoto disposed of the second time around.
Norman never got another shot at Deer Park, which gave Norman its only loss on Dec. 3, but did finish the season on a 23-game winning streak that included an overtime win against Arkansas power Northside.
There are those who will claim that three Southern California teams in the Top 25 are one too many; and then there are those who will claim that most of the teams ranked above Mater Dei would lose at least five times if they tried to run the SoCal gantlet.Dropped out: