Late in the second half of the California Division I title game, these final national rankings were looking a little shaky.
No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana (not to be confused with Mater Dei of Chula Vista) had overcome an early 13-3 deficit to No. 9 Berkeley, and early in the fourth quarter, the Monarchs had what seemed to be a very comfortable 47-34 lead. But the Yellowjackets suddenly found the magic against Mater Dei's zone, and behind the 3-point shooting of Elisha Davis
, came storming back. When Khristina Hunter
, playing with four fouls (as were two other Berkeley starters), converted a layup with 2:50 left, it was 49-46, and Southern California's hold on the state and national championship wasn't quite as firm as it had been.
But then Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
took over. She drew a foul and buried two free throws to extend the lead to five, and finally, with 48 seconds left, she executed the coup de grace. With sophomore Rachel Howard trying to defend, Mosqueda-Lewis used the forearm Michael Jordan used on Byron Russell back in the day, and deposited Howard on the ground. She then deposited the ball in the basket for a 3-pointer that ensured a Mater Dei victory — and a national title.
Berkeley stayed in the Top 10, though, as losing only to No. 1 Mater Dei and local rival Carondelet (which the ‘Jackets beat three other times) is a pretty strong resume.
One team did move up in the final rankings, as Nazareth of New York knocked off two traditional powers, Christ the King and Murry Bergtraum, to win the state's Federation title. With the crown, the Kingsmen pushed themselves to No. 15, which is quite an achievement considering the school didn't have a girls' team last year.
The backstory: When St. Michael's closed its doors, coach Apache Paschall and many of his players moved over to Nazareth, so it's not as if the Kingsmen came from nowhere. They did come from controversy, though, as Paschall had to fend off accusations of illegal recruiting, which were finally rejected by New York officials, making for a grand finish for Nazareth.
The final change was inserting Hopkins of Minnesota at No. 25. Hopkins won the state title and avenged both its losses, so slid into the final spot at season's end.FINAL MAXPREPS XCELLENT 25 NATIONAL 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. (5) Twinsburg (Ohio)
6. (6) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
7. (7) Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
8. (8) Berkeley (Calif.)
9. (9) Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
10. (10) Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
11. (11) Westbury Christian (Houston)
12. (12) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
13. (13) St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
14. (14) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)
15. (19) Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
16. (15) Fayetteville (Ark.)
17. (16) MacArthur (Irving, Texas)
18. (17) Canyon (Texas)
19. (18) Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
20. (20) Jesuit (Portland, Ore.)
21. (21) Des Moines East (Iowa)
22. (22) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii)
23. (23) Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.)
24. (24) Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.)
25. (nr) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
Dropped out: No. 25 Shabazz.
^ = suspended game