So why are the Berkeley Yellowjackets, not even mentioned two weeks ago, now in the Top 10?
And are they a threat to become the top team in the nation?
Naturally, it's a somewhat convoluted tale, but we'll start last spring, when 6-3 center
began attending Berkeley High after playing basketball for nearby Rodriguez High in the winter. Hunter, who will play for San Diego State in the fall, had some paperwork issues and didn't get all her eligibility forms submitted until just before basketball practice started – and that paperwork was then ruled insufficient and she was declared ineligible.
Without Hunter, the 'Jackets – a Northern California power since the 1970s – were more than respectable. Though they lost to Carondelet of Concord by two points in late December, they beat everyone else they played, including Georgetown of Texas, which finished second in the 5A playoffs to No. 16 MacArthur. Georgetown, however, was the only non-Northern California team Berkeley played, so it was hard to justify moving the Yellowjackets into the rankings with that loss to Carondelet (which had lost to Windward in the Nike TOC).
But then Berkeley and Carondelet played a second time – and Berkeley won. Shortly after that win, Hunter's appeal of her ineligibility wound up in court, and Hunter was allowed to play. Now Brittany Boyd
(bound for Cal), Chairese Culberson
(San Diego State) and electric junior Elisha Davis
had a big-time post in the middle, and the 'Jackets were even more formidable than before.
Then Berkeley and Carondelet played a third time – and Berkeley won. A fourth time, in the NorCal championship game, with a chance to play No. 1 Mater Dei as a reward, and the Yellowjackets won by 11.
So factor in the addition of a 6-3 center; Georgetown's great run in Texas; three wins over the only team that beat them; and a game against No. 1 in the nation Saturday in Sacramento, and you've got a recipe for a Top 10 team.
And with Shabazz (previously No. 5) and Neptune (previously No. 11) both losing to Trenton Catholic Academy (N.J.)
, and Detroit Country Day (previously No. 13) getting shocked by Goodrich (Mich.)
in the Michigan semifinals, there was suddenly room at the top.
And since only Mater Dei and Berkeley have any games left to play among teams ranked that high, the outcome of that matchup will have a lot to say about who the national champion might be. If Berkeley wins, do the ‘Jackets vault to No. 1? Or does unbeaten Spring Valley, which has a couple nice wins and plenty of talent, slide to the top spot? Bolingbrook lost to both Brea-Olinda and Long Beach Poly, so it's hard to see the Raiders rising, and Potter's House has a bad loss and a controversial no-decision in a game stopped by the officials with Potter's House beating Riverdale Baptist by 19.
Twinsburg? Doesn't have a win to match Berkeley's over Georgetown. Princess Anne? If Berkeley beats Mater Dei, that trumps the win over Riverdale Baptist. Heights? Played no one of significance.
Of course, if Mater Dei holds on – and Jordan Adams
played last week despite a separated left shoulder, and Alexas Williamson
could return from an appendectomy by Saturday – there won't be any discussion. The Monarchs will be No. 1, and Berkeley may be out of the Top 10 as quickly as it got in.MAXPREPS XCELLENT 25 GIRLS BASKETBALL RANKINGS
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
2. (2) Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.)
3. (3) Bolingbrook (Ill.)
4. (4) Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)
5. (6) Twinsburg (Ohio)
6. (7) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
7. (8) Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
8. (21) Berkeley (Calif.)
9. (9) Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
10. (10) Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
11. (16) Westbury Christian (Houston)
12. (12) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
13. (15) St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
14. (14) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)
15. (17) Fayetteville (Ark.)
16. (19) MacArthur (Irving, Texas)
17. (18) Canyon (Texas)
18. (20) Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
19. (nr) Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
20. (nr) Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)
21. (23) Des Moines East (Iowa)
22. (22) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii)
23. (24) Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.)
24. (25) Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.)
25. (5) Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)
Dropped out: No. 11 Neptune (Neptune, N.J.), No. 13 Detroit Country Day.
^Not including no-contest March 19