One thing that experience brings is perspective — and as I've been doing these kinds of rankings for more than 20 years, I've seen some patterns emerge that run counter to what a more short-term outlook might hint at.
For example, there's a tendency to assume that a few years of high-level talent and quality basketball in a particular region is an indication that an area is and always will be a kind of girls' basketball nirvana, with national rankings and McDonald's All-Americans almost a birthright.
At one time, for example, people in Ohio said there was no reason for Ohio teams to play schools from other states because Ohio was so good. And Indiana folks have claimed that the Hoosier State's basketball legacy all but guarantees elite-level teams. And of course, big states like California and Texas claim they're always good no matter what, and any apparent dip in performance is merely a product of a lot of good teams beating up on each other.
Recently, of course, the DMV — District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia — have dominated, but even though the area is well-represented again this year, there are indications that the talent pipeline isn't flowing quite as strongly as in the past, and that there's an opening for another region to step forward. But which region would that be?
California and Texas are both down this year — California will likely only have one team in the final Top 25, and possibly could have none — and though Ohio is strong, it's unclear if it's sustainable. Georgia was a power for a while, but this year has barely sniffed the rankings, and though Florida's Miami Country Day tops the rankings, MCD is the only Sunshine State representative.
So as this year's state championships wind down, maybe some clarity about who's next will emerge – or maybe instead of clarity, next year's national picture will be about parity instead.
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MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings
After losing to Tampa Bay Tech — a team playing for the 8A Florida championship — by one back in early December, Miami Country Day has reeled off 22 straight wins against some of the best teams in the country. MCD rolled to the Florida 4A title, winning all four games by 30-plus, and now rests until the GEICO National High School Championships begin April 5.
It's simple, really: Just like last year, St. John's lost a head-to-head game against another elite team in the Nike TOC in Arizona, and thus its path to No. 1 is blocked. Miami Country Day's 44-41 win Dec. 20 settled this argument on the court — and since St. John's cannot go to the GEICO, there will be no rematch.
There are those who say the Bulldogs are the best team in the country, and with just one loss (at the Nike TOC when several players were benched for tardiness), a rumored berth in the GEICO Nationals may allow Nevada's best a chance to jump to No. 1.
Margaretta, at 24-2, is Wednesday's opponent, and Saturday, the winner of Liberty-Benton (24-1) and Delta (25-3) will face the survivor. Given the Nubians' elite talent level, and the fact that this is Ohio's Division III, look for Africentric to stay unbeaten.
Made it clear that the No. 5 ranking was more than justified by beating No. 6 Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) in the finals of the Bishop Walsh Girls' Invitational and taking care of No. 20 St. Frances (Baltimore) in the semis.
Four losses is a lot for a No. 6 team, but three were to No. 2 St. John's — and all three were competitive until at least late in the fourth quarter — and the fourth was to No. 5 New Hope. And a strong early schedule included many wins over high quality teams so Bishop Mac stays right here.
Pioneers should have little problem in the Division II District 59 playoffs this week, as only Chandler Park has won more than 10 games. After that, though, comes the District 15 Regionals, where the competition will be a little stiffer.
If you look back to early December, when the Cougars beat Mercy McAuley, Wednesday's opponent in the Division I Regional semifinals, by 21, there's nothing for the No. 8 team in the nation to worry about. But on Jan. 17, Mount Notre Dame only won by two — and the bracket gets tougher after that.
The Warriors finished an impressive 36-0 season by beating 34-3 Mother McAuley 48-36 in the Illinois 4A championship game. But with only one out-of-state opponent on the resume, it's hard to get much higher than this.
Hortonville, Beaver Dam's opponent in the Division 2 semifinals Friday, is just 18-7, so that looks like a win — but the likely opponent in Saturday's finals is 24-3 Whitefish Bay, which should be a higher mountain to climb.
Wednesday's opponent in the New York city playoffs is Monsignor Scanlon, which Christ the King has already disposed of once — by 29 points. Then again, Christ the King appears to be the best in the Empire State by a substantial margin this year.
Riverdale keeps playing teams it has already beaten in the Division I 3A playoffs, as Arlington, a 21-point victim in late December, is the first-round opponent. After that, though, 29-2 Houston is the likely matchup, and that will be a sterner test.
Round three of the Minnesota slugfest between Hopkins and Wayzata — which has lost only to Hopkins — is Thursday. But the last time Hopkins hosted Wayzata, the margin of victory was only three points, so the upset watchdogs are on alert.
Sierra Canyon finished its series against rival Windward by winning 49-36 in the Southern California Regional Open semifinals. The finals will put 31-3 Clovis West on the other side of the scorer's table, with the state title game Saturday night in Sacramento.
New Jersey divides its schools into public and non-public, and Franklin is working its way through the Group 4 playoff on the public side. The finals will be Sunday, but then the Tournament of Champions begins, which puts everyone back together. All will be decided on March 17.
Putnam City looks to be the prohibitive favorite in the 6A championships, which end Saturday at noon at Oral Roberts University, but many a member of the Top 25 has stumbled in postseason against supposedly inferior opposition.
Pickerington Central jumps to No. 17 because it has a chance to prove that loss to No. 19 Roland Park was a fluke. The reason? The opposition in the Ohio Division I playoffs will be fierce, starting with Westerville South on Tuesday and either Newark or Reynoldsburg on Friday, should Pickerington Central advance. And No. 8 Mount Notre Dame awaits on the other side of the bracket.
Which team is the best in Texas? That's a tough one to untangle, but even though Mansfield Timberview was upset in the 5A playoffs, the overall body of work is still deserving of a No. 18 ranking, three spots ahead of new entry Judson.
Finished the season by losing to No. 5 New Hope 42-37 in the finals of the Bishop Walsh Girls' Invitational, and the two losses in three tries to Roland Park keeps them at No. 20.
Judson is the Texas 6A champion, but five losses are a lot of losses for a team to make the Top 20. Still, Judson is the first San Antonio-area team to win a 6A title in 25 years, and that's saying something.
South Medford, Thursday's opponent in the Oregon 6A playoffs, has stumbled a bit lately, but has traveled and played quality opposition. But Southridge has one main goal: Avenging an early season loss to Tigard, and that can only happen in the championship game.
It would not be wise for Princess Anne to look past Highland Springs on Monday, as two of Highland Springs' losses were in overtime, and the other was by two points. And in the other Class 5 semifinal, Edison has lost only to No. 2 St. John's, and Freedom has lost only to Edison.
Thursday's opponent in the 6A playoffs is Cherry Creek, which has lost to Highlands Ranch by nine and six — and the other semifinalists are Regis Jesuit and Grandview, both national-level programs that have been battle-tested. In short, it's not going to be an easy road.Dropped out:
No. 16 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.).