Video: Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings
See which two teams entered this week's rankings.
Fireworks are for July Fourth, so we shouldn't be surprised that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was bereft of that kind of excitement on the girls basketball front. There were several key matchups, but the favorites won almost all of them, so this week's rankings look much like last week's.
In fact, the first 13 spots are the same, and only two newcomers — St. John-Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.) and St. Joseph Central (Huntington, W.Va.) — landed in the MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings.
And from here on out, it should get even quieter, though as always, there are some big games on the schedule. Still, most teams are getting ready for state tournaments, which generally take three weeks or so to play out, and are always home to some stunning upsets. It's one thing to travel to a far-away city and play another good team on a neutral court, knowing the season still has a long way to go. It's quite another to play a local rival in a packed gym in full knowledge that a loss ends what was supposed to be a dream season.
Of course, there's the GEICO National High School Championships after all of the other games have been played, but only a few states allow their teams to participate, so redemption is available to only a few. Which means once the playoffs begin, it's mostly one-and-done, so even though the opposition may seem less challenging, the pressure is a lot greater. And the upset loss is much more painful.
MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings
La Jolla Country Day had little trouble with two of Northern California's best teams this past weekend and shouldn't have much to worry about in its home San Diego Section. To stay No. 1, LJCD needs to win two or three very difficult games against Southern California opponents and live up to the favorite's role in the state title game.
Hamilton Heights does not have a state playoff to contend with, but its postseason will include National Association of Christian Athletes championship and likely GEICO Nationals in New York. First, though, they have two quality opponents in the Raatz Fence O'Shea's Basketball Classic this weekend.
Mount Notre Dame outlasted supremely talented Winston-Salem Christian this past weekend to cement the third spot in the rankings. To go higher, they of course must win Ohio's Division I championship and hope that Nos. 1 and 2 both find a way to lose.
Long Island Lutheran has two big tests upcoming: No. 16 Riverdale Baptist on Friday and No. 15 St. John-Vianney on Jan. 31. Due to the complexity of New York's state playoffs, LuHi's path to an Empire State championship is easier than one would expect.
Hopkins continues to dominate Minnesota, and barring an act of God on the scale of an 80-degree day in Minnetonka in January, an unbeaten season is pretty much all but in the books.
Friday's opponent is Pallotti, which beat No. 16 Riverdale Baptist earlier this year. But styles make fights, as boxing fans say, and Pallotti doesn't match up as well with St. Frances as it did with Riverdale Baptist.
Sierra Canyon took care of business against No. 17 Long Beach Poly and might have sent a message to a likely Southern California Open postseason opponent. But Sierra Canyon's ambitious schedule still includes an early February trip to New Jersey.
The Panthers outscored their last two opponents by a combined score of 196-23, and there was a 98-6 win earlier in January. Duncanville plays each of those teams again.
Talented Bishop Ireton lost to Bishop McNamara by seven back in December, and is playing much better now — but the first go-round was at Bishop Ireton, and this time a different bishop will host.
Edison Academy draws 8-1 Marian on Friday at home, but it's hard to see how any Michigan team can get past uber-talented Edison. And note that Edison plays in Division 2 in postseason, not Division 1.
Cedar Hill might prove to a challenge for DeSoto, but really, the focus now is on the always tough Texas postseason — and yes, both Duncanville and 28-0 Cypress Creek are in the same division.
There was some sense that Millbrook would give Southeast Raleigh some competition last week, but the No. 12 team in the country showed why it's earned that ranking, doubling up Millbrook 74-37.
There are some who say Ensworth is just as good as, and maybe better than, the other Tennessee power this year, No. 2 Hamilton Heights. But because Hamilton Heights isn't a full member of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, we won't ever really know for sure.
Here in the rankings' biz, there's a category of team called an "Exterminator." Due to several losses, the Exterminator isn't going to make the Top 25, but has the talent to eliminate others. South Shore gets the classic exterminator this Sunday in New Hope Academy, so stay tuned.
Our first newcomer, St. John-Vianney jumps into the rankings thanks to its unbeaten record and a 40-38 win over Riverdale Baptist. New Jersey competition is challenging, no doubt, but the big one will against No. 4 Long Island Lutheran on Jan. 31.
Riverdale Baptist's loss to Pallotti is the main blot on the record, but losses to No. 15 St. John-Vianney and No. 7 Sierra Canyon are excusable. Much will be revealed, however, in Friday's matchup at No. 4 Long Island Lutheran.
If the rankings mean anything, then it should come as no surprise — and come with no punishment — when a lower-ranked team loses to a higher-ranked one. Which would explain why Long Beach Poly stays at No. 17 despite losing to No. 7 Sierra Canyon.
A young Mater Dei team hasn't been tested as extensively as some others, but a quality win over No. 7 Sierra Canyon and the daunting task of navigating the Southern California postseason keep Mater Dei right here.
Northwestern gets a bump thanks to a three-point win over Maine West, one of Illinois' top teams. Of course, that's the only out-of-state win for Northwestern, which means its margin for error in Indiana is non-existent.
Wayne's only loss was to No. 3 Mount Notre Dame, by four, but its only really quality win was over Fairmont, by two. Next week, though, the rematch is in Kettering, not Huber Heights.
St. Joseph Central has plenty of talent and going 15-0 against an ambitious schedule vaults the Mountain State's best into the Top 25. But a trip this weekend to Missouri power Incarnate Word and a Feb. 1 date with No. 3 Mount Notre Dame will determine if St. Joseph Central enjoys being ranked for long.
Lake Highland Prep has played a difficult schedule, and has only two losses, one of which was to No. 6 St. Frances. The Tampa Bay Tech game Saturday, though, could burst the bubble.
Two of the losses are to ranked teams, and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is full of quality opponents — so a loss to one of them, Bishop O'Connell, wasn't quite enough to knock Paul VI out of the rankings. Luckily, there's a win over Westlake on the other side of the ledger.
Westlake's win over No. 25 Sacred Heart is crucial, as the loss to No. 23 Paul VI means Westlake can't rise much higher, especially given Georgia's watered-down postseason.
Sacred Heart Academy drops three spots because Westlake, a team it could not beat, dropped five. This Saturday's game against 14-3 Montini Catholic from Illinois in the Raatz Fence O'Shea's Basketball Classic could make it easier to overlook that misstep.Dropped out:
No. 21 Lovejoy (Ga.), No. 25 Jefferson City (Mo.).