Video: Top 25 girls basketball rankings
See the movement as the season nears its end.
In a surprisingly stable season, there are three hurdles facing those teams with games left to play — and only one is in their control. In ascending order:
1) State championships: There are two major factors in any game — talent and confidence. Most teams in the MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings have a significant talent advantage over opponents (which is why they're in the rankings), and during the regular season they have a huge edge in confidence as well. If a team has dominated local play for years, then most opponents come into a game already expecting to lose — which makes it even easier for the ranked team to win.
But the deeper teams get in postseason, the greater the confidence of the opposition. After all, just getting to the state semifinals or finals is a major achievement, and those teams that have advanced that far have a justified belief in their ability to find a way to win — and will not just roll over if they fall behind early. Yes, the talent disparity remains, but any team that has reached the state semis has some talent as well, and plenty of confidence to go along with it.
2) GEICO National High School Championship: The four-team event in New York City is an invitational, so whether the invite comes is up to the GEICO organizers and no one else. In addition, only a few states allow teams to participate, notably Maryland, Florida, Georgia and Washington, where the majority of participants have come from. Most high school sports associations won't allow teams to play after the state season has ended, and it's also unclear if the GEICO organizers have aggressively pushed associations to allow participation.
Those teams that do get invited, however, have a great opportunity to prove themselves on a national stage — which happened two years ago, when Central Valley of Washington came to the GEICO, upset two higher-ranked teams and wound up No. 1 in the nation.
3) Coronavirus: As the pandemic spreads, games are more and more likely to be canceled. It's already happened in California, and there are some questions as to whether this weekend's state title games will be played. (Several teams have already forfeited playoff games.)
The New York state championships are scheduled for March 27-29, with the GEICO a week later, and though it's hard to say what might happen, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise if both were cancelled.
All of this means that this week's games are even more important than usual, and it could well be they are the last that will have an impact on the final rankings — which means a season of stability may end with even less late movement than usual.
MaxPreps Top 25 national high school basketball rankings
1. (Last week 1) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.), 31-1
As this is written, the California state basketball championships are still scheduled to be played this weekend, and if so the Torreys will have an opportunity to add an Open championship to the resume. Likely opponent Archbishop Mitty, however, is playing very well lately and will present yet another stiff challenge.
Hamilton Heights is expecting a GEICO bid, and with a pair of wins there, could make it hard to deny Tennessee's best the No. 1 ranking. But neither win will come easily.
After disposing of No. 22 Fairmont — the only team to beat No. 2 Hamilton Heights — Mount Notre Dame must get by 22-3 Notre Dame Academy on Friday, and the winner of Newark vs. Glen Oak on Saturday. If that mission is accomplished, and both No. 1 La Jolla Country Day and Hamilton Heights lose, then Mount Notre Dame will be the national champion.
Hopkins, not surprisingly, is the top seed in the AAAA playoffs. Hopkins has beaten the No. 2 seed (Farmington) by 25 and the No. 4 seed (Park Center) by 28. But No. 3 seed St. Michael-Albertville has lost by eight and 12 in two tries, so clearly can hang with Hopkins.
For a lot of high school teams, it takes two really good seasons to accumulate 40 wins, but Duncanville reached that mark by outlasting No. 12 Cypress Creek in the 6A finals. That title, by the way, was the 11th for Duncanville, which sounds good until you consider that Nazareth has won 24.
For the first time, the New York State Federation will hold its championships in New York City (at Fordham) March 27 through 29, and Long Island Lutheran will finally get to play a game after more than a month without one.
Bishop McNamara is hoping for a bid to the GEICO National High School Championship, and though a No. 1 ranking might be out of reach for a five-loss team, winning two games in New York would definitely cap off the season in style.
After a pair of forfeit wins against overmatched opponents, Edison moves on and likely face 21-3 Flat Rock on Thursday. A win there, and the eight-team Division 2 championship, which begins March 17, is next.
Rutgers Prep lost to Trenton Catholic by 20 on Feb. 18, but before conceding the rematch in the Non-Public B semifinals to Trenton Catholic, recall that Rutgers Prep pounded California power Sierra Canyon earlier this year. And also note that likely finals opponent Saddle River Day is 22-3 and talented.
Ensworth won its second straight Division II-AA championship — and sixth Tennessee title overall — by thumping Briarcrest Christian, 73-53, in the finale. But this year was special in its own way, as it was the first undefeated season for the girls' team.
Cypress Creek was missing one of its top players for the final weekend of the season, but still managed to get to the finals before losing to No. 5 Duncanville. And 41 wins to just one loss — and the loss to the fifth best team in the country — is deserving of a No. 12 ranking.
St. Joseph Central is the heavy favorite in the Class A playoffs, which begin Thursday, but since St. Joseph Central has only played four other West Virginia teams all season, there might be some surprises in store.
Westlake hammered previously unbeaten Collins Hill 72-53 in the AAAAAAA final, and will now hope for an invitation to the GEICO National High School Championship, where it could make enough noise to be looking at a Top 10 finish.
Lake Highland Prep is another GEICO hopeful with big dreams — and a shot at a Top 10 ranking. That one-point loss to Montverde, though, will make rising really high a problem.
At the beginning of the year, there was talk that Vance was the best team in North Carolina, but some early stumbles knocked them out of the conversation. Now, however, Vance is rolling, and Southeast Raleigh will face its toughest in-state test in the 4A final Saturday.
Windward survived what might be politely called a physical game with Long Beach Poly in the Southern Regional Open Saturday, and has hopes of winning a state title Saturday.
After coming from behind in the fourth quarter to beat St. Thomas Aquinas in the Non-Public A tournament, St. John-Vianney now draws St. Rose, a team it beat by seven on Feb. 25. Down the road, No. 9 Trenton Catholic is an even bigger threat.
Chartiers Valley is four games away from a second straight 5A title and a second straight 30-0 season. Battle-tested Archbishop Wood might be the highest hurdle.
Fairmont had an 11-point lead over No. 3 Mount Notre Dame after one quarter, but finally wore down before losing 47-41. Still, losing to No. 3 is no disgrace, and beating No. 2 — which Fairmont did — is an achievement, so Fairmont stays No. 22.
The 6A tournament, which begins Thursday, has no gimmes in the bracket, but if Norman can get to the finals, there's no team it would rather see than Deer Creek, the only team that beat Norman this year. So far.
Mater Dei lost to Long Beach Poly for the second time, ending its season, but a host of quality wins over top-shelf competition keeps the Southern California school in the Top 25.Dropped out: