Video: Top 25 high school girls basketball rankingsSee which teams joined this week's rankings.
It's that time of year, when nationally ranked teams (for the most part) start to prepare for postseason by pounding on their friends and neighbors in league play. Of course, the opponents are hoping for that miracle upset of their arch rival — and one or two will happen — but the ranked teams are focused on two things: Winning and avoiding injury. The last thing a Top 10 team wants to see is a star go down with a badly sprained ankle in the third quarter of a 35-point blowout.
And sometimes, depending on the state, even the playoffs aren't that intriguing. Florida had nine state champions in 2019, and has cut that down to seven this year — but the best teams are still in different divisions. Georgia also has seven divisions, and we won't even try to explain the convoluted system that New York has come up with. For no apparent reason, the title game is played in Glen Falls rather than in one of the best basketball cities in the world, which is another thing that defies description.
California (full disclosure: my home state) is moving away from enrollment-based playoffs by skimming off the best teams, regardless of size, and placing them in Open division playoffs. So at the end of the regular season, all the major sections (except one) hold a meeting, and pull the six to eight best teams out of the divisional format, regardless of enrollment, and put them in an Open Division where they fight it out among themselves.
The top Open teams are then placed in the Southern California or Northern California Regional Opens in an even more competitive environment. The others are returned to the divisional playoffs, which are also based on competitive equity, not enrollment, so that a school of 800 might play a school of 3,500 for the state title if both have equal resumes
MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball .rankings
La Jolla Country Day will roll into postseason as befits a No. 1 team: with ease. There doesn't appear to be a serious obstacle until the Southern California Regional playoffs begin in March.
Hamilton Heights just beat Legacy Early College 72-46 on Saturday. Next Saturday, Heights plays Legacy again, but this time at Legacy. We're not seeing the home court advantage making that big a difference.
Mount Notre Dame handled No. 16 St. Joseph Central by eight, a good outcome for both teams, and now will rest until the Division I playoffs begin Feb. 13. In fact, the rest is really until Feb. 24, the next time Mount Notre Dame could face a team with a winning record.
The average margin of victory is 34.2 points, and only one game all year has been closer than 10 points. Don't expect much change this week, as Hopkins beat its next two opponents by an average of 39.5 points the first time around.
No one can claim Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki has taken the easy road to a Top 10 ranking. After trips to Texas, Arizona and Northern California, this weekend Sierra Canyon is off to New Jersey to play two quality teams, Blair Academy and Rutgers Prep.
Pearce and White are left on a schedule that included only one non-Texas team — but that was No. 7 Bishop McNamara, and it's that 77-70 win that has Duncanville at No. 6. The biggest issue for Duncanville in postseason might be the lack of close games in 2020, as the smallest margin of victory has been 19 points.
The trip to Elizabeth Seton on Valentine's Day may not be the box of chocolates Bishop McNamara was hoping for, as Seton has played a brutal schedule and battled elite teams toe-to-toe for four quarters.
Edison Academy is loaded with talent, but the talent struggled while holding off Renaissance 54-52, nearly blowing a nine-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Edison now takes a break until Feb. 17.
Nothing to see here — at least until the Texas playoffs begin. Two easy wins will polish off the regular season, barring divine intervention.
As with most teams in the Top 25, the weakness of league opponents requires coaches to get excited over every little thing in order to maintain interest. For Ensworth's staff, that's going to be a lot of nitpicking, as playoffs don't begin until late February.
If Riverdale Baptist were just another very good team, their upcoming opponents — TPLS Academy, Oxon Hill and National Christian Academy — would be a challenge. But Riverdale Baptist isn't, and they aren't.
Thanks to a 26-point beat-down of previous No. 11 St. John-Vianney — though it was in the friendly confines — Long Island Lutheran jumps four spots to No. 12. Since the only loss was to No. 11 Riverdale Baptist, going any higher at this point would take Simone Biles-like vaulting skills.
Northwestern also takes a jump, but it's more about what the teams ahead of them didn't do rather than what Northwestern did. It really comes down to this: Northwestern needs to win out to get to the Top 10, and any loss could result in eviction.
Like Northwestern, Trenton Catholic rises because others have fallen. Two regular-season games remain, but the only one that will pose any kind of threat isn't until Feb. 15, when Rutgers Prep comes calling.
There was a time when a 61-46 win over Nevada's Bishop Gorman would have been a statement win, but now is not that time. Bishop Gorman is a good team and has played a difficult schedule, but there's a reason Mater Dei is No. 18 and Bishop Gorman isn't.
St. Joseph Central proved it belonged in the rankings by giving No. 3 Mount Notre Dame a battle — in Cincinnati no less — before losing 80-72. But in-state rival Greenbrier, 13-1, is Friday's opponent, at Greenbrier.
In the 4A district tournament — and note that Florida has seven divisions — the No. 2 seed has 10 losses. That should prove to be no problem but Raines is riding a 21-game win streak and could be a challenge later.
St. Frances plummeted five spots thanks to its second loss in as many weeks to an unranked local opponent. Is this just a stumble, or a sign that the St. Frances early season juggernaut has somehow gone off the rails?
The only thing Southeast Raleigh has done wrong is lose to No. 18 St. Frances. The problem is they haven't done enough right — as in beat a ranked team — to overcome that loss.
After beating St. John's, Paul VI now only has Elizabeth Seton — at Elizabeth Seton — to deal with before the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs begin. And two of PVI's three losses have come to WCAC teams.
Like Florida, Georgia has seven divisions, so Westlake will not see Lovejoy, considered the second best team in the Peach State, again. Still, postseason is never easy, and AAAAAAA playoffs will begin soon.
St. John-Vianney's strength of schedule is not that great, but they do have a big win over No. 11 Riverdale Baptist. They also, however, have a 26-point loss at the hands of No. 12 Long Island Lutheran. We won't know who the real St. John-Vianney is until the New Jersey playoffs begin.
After hanging on to beat Ryle 59-57, Sacred Heart has three games in seven days, including ones against Central and Notre Dame Academy. If fatigue or lack of focus set in, Sacred Heart could be dealing with another nail biter — or two.
After whomping on previous No. 20 Wayne, Fairmont jumps into the Top 25 thanks not only to that win, but an early season upset of No. 2 Hamilton Heights. Those make the memory of the loss to Mercy McAuley fade into the background.
Thirty-two up and none down is awfully impressive, even if the Houston area is down this year. And of course, sooner or later Cypress Creek is likely to run into No. 6 Duncanville or No. 9 DeSoto into the Texas postseason, and much will be learned.Dropped out:
No. 15 Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), No. 20 Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio).