Video: Xcellent 25 Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
The long season finally wound down at the Dick's Invitational, which brought four ranked teams to New York City. And at the end of the championship game at Madison Square Garden, the lowest ranked of that quartet wound up as the winner.
Two wins vaulted previous No. 17 Ribault to No. 5, and dropped Riverdale Baptist three spots to No. 6. The cruelest blow was to previous No. 13 Seton Catholic, which dropped all the way out of the Xcellent 25 after losing to Ribault. The reason? The other loss was to no-longer-ranked Archbishop Mitty of California, and there were no quality wins to offset that defeat.
Strength of schedule and traveling to elite tournaments are two keys to finding a home in the Xcellent 25, but playing good teams isn't enough -- you have to beat them as well. And that's what all the teams in the rankings did. Some, of course, did it more than others, starting with our national champions.
2015-16 MAXPREPS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSPast MaxPreps National Champions
2015 – Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia)
2014 – Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
2013 – Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
2012 – St. Mary's (Phoenix)
2011 – Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Final 2015-16 MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (1 last week) Duncanville (Texas), 39-0
Cathy Self-Morgan did another masterful job running the program, and this year's iteration of the perennial Texas powerhouse maximized its potential. By dominating Texas, and not incidentally posting 39 up and none down, Duncanville clearly earned the No. 1 ranking.2. (2) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.), 28-1
St. Mary's started the season No. 1, and played like No. 1 all the way until mid-March -- but maybe St. Mary's peaked a little too soon. The one close loss, to a quality team that made 16 3-pointers in that game, can't dim the luster of another brilliant season.3. (5) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 33-1
Though Paul VI didn't play any of the other top 10 teams, wins over two state champions (Miami Country Day and McEachern) plus a win over a state runner-up (Fremd) added emphasis to the always-tough Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.4. (8) Bellevue (Wash.), 29-0
Bellevue is Exhibit A in why teams with national aspirations should go to the Nike TOC. Even playing in a lower bracket, Bellevue beat two state champions (Mountain View of Idaho and Brentwood Academy of Tennessee) and No. 23 Highlands Ranch. The win over Lynnwood in the Washington state playoffs was the clincher for the top 10.5. (17) Ribault (Jacksonville, Fla.), 30-1
In contrast to No. 2 St. Mary's, Ribault peaked at just the right time, knocking off two ranked teams -- including then-No. 3 Riverdale Baptist -- at the Dick's Invitational this past weekend. And though the overall schedule wasn't great, a convincing win over Miami Country Day added to the luster. 6. (3) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 36-4
All credit to Sam Caldwell and Riverdale Baptist. They traveled, ducked nobody, played anyone and beat many quality teams. Losing four times, considering the competition, is a tremendous performance, and there's no doubt this is a top 10 team.7. (4) Centennial (Las Vegas), 31-1
Centennial didn't get much run in Nevada, and the only loss was to Riverdale Baptist -- but that two-point win over California Open Division champion and No. 9 Chaminade looks a lot better now than it did then.8. (6) Forestville (Md.), 25-2
In the last year before the school will close, Forestville had wins over No. 13 St. Francis and No. 21 Konawaena. The losses? To No. 2 St. Mary's and No. 6 Riverdale Baptist.9. (9) Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.), 31-4
When both Valerie Higgins
and Leaonna Odom
were healthy, a case could be made Chaminade was the best team in the country. But a loss is a loss, and the two-pointer to Fairmont Prep was a rankings killer.10. (10) St. John-Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.), 31-1
The overall New Jersey state champion lost just once, in triple overtime to a state runner-up, Pennsylvania's Villa Maria. It wasn't a banner year in the northeast, but St. John-Vianney is a legit top 10 team.11. (11) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), 29-1
It was another very good year for Neumann-Goretti, but the schedule could have been tougher. The defeat was at the hands of six-loss Pennsylvania state champion Archbishop Wood, and there were no wins against elite teams to offset it.12. (12) Miramonte (Orinda, Calif.), 32-1
Miramonte got all the way to the California Open Division final, a great achievement for a Division III (out of five) suburban public school. Miramonte also could lay claim to bragging rights in Oregon, after beating many of that state's best teams in the Nike Interstate Tournament over Christmas.13. (7) St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.), 31-2
St. Francis couldn't hang on to a late lead against No. 6 Riverdale Baptist at the Dick's Invitatonal, but that could be attributed to inexperience. After all, the six projected Division I college players all return next year.14. (14) Dekaney (Houston), 37-2
Dekaney handled North Shore to prove it was the best in the Houston area, but Duncanville made it clear where the basketball power rested in the state.15. (15) ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), 25-3
ThunderRidge is another advertisement for the Nike TOC: Its four opponents there had a combined record of 104-21 -- all of them reached their respective states' final four.16. (16) Argyle (Texas), 35-1
Argyle lost just once, in early December, and then just kept rolling all the way to the Texas 4A title. Though there was plenty of talent, Argyle also got the most out of that talent with a well-executed system.17. (18) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.), 29-2
Princess Anne lost to No. 6 Riverdale Baptist, and by one to Salem -- and turned around and beat Salem by 15, 30, 24, 29 and 33. Not much question there.18. (NR) Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), 30-3
Cumberland Valley didn't get out much, but won its third-straight Pennsylvania championship by kicking into high gear late. The 23-point win over Cardinal O'Hara in the title game was impressive.19. (19) South (Wichita, Kan.), 25-0
Kansas is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to limiting competition (no Christmas tournaments, for example), so Wichita South is a bit of an unknown. But four straight big-school championships is a pretty strong statement.20. (20) Wadsworth (Ohio), 28-1
Though Ohio wasn't as strong as in recent years, there were still plenty of quality teams. One of them was Mason, which beat Wadsworth early in the year, but was a nine-point victim in the state title game.21. (21) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii), 27-1
Konawaena took the challenge of leaving the islands and though its only loss came in Washington D.C.'s Title IX tournament, Konawaena defended its state championship and proved it deserved a spot in the Xcellent 25.22. (22) LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.), 35-0
Winning 35 in a row isn't easy, no matter where you are or what game you're playing. LeFlore did just that en route to the Alabama crown. The win over Georgia state champion Southwest DeKalb was an added bonus.
23. (23) Highlands Ranch (Colo.), 26-2
Highlands Ranch is the definition of perennial power, and lost only to No. 4 Bellevue and No. 15 ThunderRidge -- which by the way it beat in the first go-round. 24. (24) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 32-4
After struggling a bit during the season, Riverdale came on late and won the Tennessee 3A title, which is always an accomplishment in a state that takes its girls basketball very seriously.25. (25) Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.), 32-3
Illinois wasn't up to its usual elite standard, but there were still a lot of very good, very talented teams, and Benet wound up winning the large-school state championship for the second-straight year. Dropped out:
No. 13 Seton Catholic.