Video: Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings
Top four can make their case for a national title.
Right now, there are four leading candidates to be the No. 1 team in the country when the last ball has bounced in the 2019-20 season — and not surprisingly they are the top four teams in this week's MaxPreps Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings. Let's look at what each needs to do to get that coveted title.
La Jolla Country Day: California's playoffs begin in its 10 sections (and 1,300 schools), and it would be a massive shock if La Jolla Country Day didn't win the San Diego Section with ease. Then, however, comes the Southern California Open Regionals, which will put nationally ranked teams Mater Dei (15) and Sierra Canyon (16) in the same eight-team bracket. Also a likely contestant is Long Beach Poly, the only team to beat the Torreys this year. And then, should they survive, NorCal powerhouse Archbishop Mitty — which just returned its best player to the roster after missing the whole season — will most likely lie in wait. In short, if La Jolla Country Day wins out, it will have earned its spot.
Hamilton Heights: First, La Jolla Country Day must lose. Then Hamilton Heights must win the National Association of Christian Athletes title, likely having to deal with preseason No. 1 New Hope — which is playing much better lately — along the way. Then comes the GEICO National High School Championships in New York, which include three other elite teams. Again, if Hamilton Heights survives, the top ranking will have been well-earned.
Mount Notre Dame: First, both La Jolla Country Day and Hamilton Heights must lose. Then Mount Notre Dame must win the Ohio state title, which means that No. 24 Fairmont and powerful Newark must be dealt with. Though Mount Notre Dame hasn't played the schedule of the top two teams, the win over Winston Salem Christian is a major plus.
Hopkins: Hopkins may be the most talented team but has played the weakest schedule — and should have no trouble in the Minnesota playoffs. So of the four, its path to winning the rest of its games is easiest, but to be No. 1, the top three must all find a way to lose. Stranger things have happened, though …
MaxPreps Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings
1. (Last week 1) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.), 26-1
After one more game the Torreys will have until Feb. 22 before the San Diego Section Open playoffs begin. Though San Diego has been strong in years past, this is not one of those years.
Hamilton Heights will have plenty of time to get healthy — or go stale — before the National Association of Christian Athletes championships begin Feb. 25. Once there, though, the field should be strong.
Withrow failed to win a league game, so Mount Notre Dame's Thursday opponent in the first round of the Ohio playoffs should not be a stern test. Should the No. 3 team in the nation survive that, winless Northwest is up next on Feb. 18.
Valentine's Day will be special in suburban Minneapolis, but not because of candygrams — instead, it's Hopkins vs. Wayzata, at Wayzata, in what should be one of the biggest challenges of the year for Hopkins. The Royals won by 10 the first time around, but that was in the friendly confines.
The Crusaders jump back into the Top 10 with three losses, but quality wins over No. 9 Long Island Lutheran, No. 19 St. Frances, Long Beach Poly, New Hope and Archbishop Mitty more than balance the scales. But Monday's 51-50 squeaker over National Christian Academy might be cause for concern.
The Panthers begin their quest for state title number 11 this week, and after the pretenders are quickly eliminated, the depth of talent in Texas will make every game in the 6A bracket a potential landmine.
Only one of the two Texas teams in the Top 10 right now will be there at season's end. DeSoto and No. 6 Duncanville have split the two games they've played so far, which is why they are so close in the rankings, but don't overlook No. 25 Cypress Creek, which has yet to lose this season.
The Pioneers play less than any top team in the country — and less than most teams, good or bad. The next game isn't until Feb. 17, but it is against a solid Michigan opponent, Lenawee Tech.
The Crusaders jump into the Top 10, having lost only No. 5 Riverdale Baptist, and has only to get by a good Hudson Catholic team Feb. 17 before advancing straight into the New York state semifinals. How can a team get to the semis without playing a game? Ask a New Yorker to explain.
The Tigers should conclude the regular season unbeaten, though the surprisingly close 55-52 win over Brentwood Academy's should give the last two opponents — St. Cecilia Academy and Father Ryan — some hope. Ensworth is a Division II (tuition-charging) school so it will not meet Arlington or Macon, the top public schools, in postseason.
The Mustangs managed eight points in the first half of a 59-24 beatdown at the hands of Paul VI, but is ranked ahead of PVI? First, Bishop McNamara beat Paul VI earlier in the year, so now both teams have won at home. Second, Bishop McNamara's overall body of work is stronger, but third and most important, the two teams will most likely settle it on the court in the Washington Catholic Athletic League playoffs.
On one hand, the Panthers beat Bishop McNamara by 35. On the other, Bishop McNamara beat PVI by 17 — still, edge to PVI. On one hand, Paul VI lost to Bishop O'Connell 45-39. On the other, Bishop McNamara beat Bishop O'Connell 71-44 and 74-44 — edge to Bishop Mac. The playoffs will decide.
The Tigers haven't played a close game in a month; 23-1 Fishers has played one pretty much every week all season. Is that an advantage to the underdog in the 4A bracket? And should Northwestern survive that, once-beaten Homestead is likely the next obstacle.
Rutgers Prep looked like just another solid opponent, but after Rutgers Prep demolished previous No. 5 Sierra Canyon by 21 last weekend, the game this Saturday looks a lot more competitive. Especially since Trenton Catholic barely slipped past Immaculate Heart, 50-48, on Monday.
California's Southern Section Open Division playoffs are unique: The eight teams are divided into two four-team pools, which play a round-robin. Then the winner of each pool meets for the Open title. Mater Dei's pool contains No. 16 Sierra Canyon, and the two play Feb. 22.
The Trailblazers' ambitious travel schedule apparently caught up to the top seed in the Southern Section Open playoffs, as Rutgers Prep put the hammer down, 65-44, one night after Sierra Canyon beat Blair Academy 61-53. And since Mater Dei beat Sierra Canyon head-to-head, Sierra Canyon slots behind the Monarchs.
Here's an interesting note: St. Joseph Central is a West Virginia team but hasn't played a West Virginia opponent since Dec. 7. The Mountain State's best has its last regular season game against a Kentucky team, and will be a heavy favorite in the A classification postseason, so the one loss — to No. 3 Mount Notre Dame — could easily be the only blemish.
The 32-team 4A playoffs (there are seven divisions in Florida) begin Thursday, but Lake Highland Prep shouldn't have too much trouble until Feb. 21, when the likely opponent is 24-3 Wesley Chapel. The real threat, though, is 26-1 Raines.
The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's Class A playoffs (A is the highest division in what is essentially a private/parochial league association) are under way, and though one would expect St. Frances to be the heavy favorite, 18-6 McDonogh has already beaten the No. 19 team in the country. So we'll see …
The Bulldogs continue to roll along, and should have no problems with Sanderson on Friday. Conference playoffs are next week, and only Leesville Road and Millbrook seem capable of pushing Southeast Raleigh very hard.
Etowah, which is below .500, is the last regular season game before Westlake begins the AAAAAAA playoffs. Pebblebrook and Campbell are the toughest District 2 opponents, but Westlake is 4-0 against them with the closest game a 23-point win.
One regular season game remains for the Lancers before the romantically named Non-Public South A playoffs begin. And though the name may not cause chills, the presence of Red Bank Catholic and St. Rose mean it won't be an easy road.
Mercy is a traditionally tough out in Kentucky, and that's Sunday's opponent for Sacred Heart. After that, though, there's just one easy game before the one-class Kentucky playoffs begin.
The Firebirds' first two opponents in the Division I playoffs have a combined record of 5-32, so there's little to be concerned about until Feb. 24, when Beavercreek (which once won a national title) is the likely opponent.
The dominoes just keep falling for the Cougars, but they are going to get a lot harder to tip over very soon, as every step deeper into the Texas 6A playoffs will deliver a more talented and more dangerous opponent.Dropped out: