Video: CA Girls Open Division Basketball Championship 2015See what No. 1 St. Mary's accomplished last season in the California Open Division final.
As playoffs stutter into action across the country, the pressure ratchets up.
It's one thing to play a league rival in a familiar gym, but quite another to face a team that's had a really good season halfway across the state. That's one reason teams that travel and play quality opposition from out of state, or outside their region, have an advantage in the postseason -- and those teams that content themselves with just beating up on their neighbors often stumble.
Regardless, though, mental toughness becomes more and more important as the games get more and more important. It's a long, grueling season and survival goes not only to the talented, but to the strong.
Note: The rankings are more accurate when all the results are on MaxPreps, so we encourage everyone to make sure their schedules and scores are up to date. If you have any issues, contact MaxPreps Coach Support at email@example.com, and you'll be taken care of.
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (1 last week) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 24-0
Note that St. Mary's has played 24 games -- teams in that part of California can play 26, but few want to take on a team that presses, shoots 3-pointers and scores a lot of points. But the playoffs start Friday, and no one can duck St. Mary's then.2. (2) Duncanville (Texas) 33-0
The playoffs have begun, and Duncanville will most likely take on one of the nation's best players in Lauren Cox this weekend. But Cox's Flower Mound teammates are unlikely to be able to carry enough of the load for an upset to occur.3. (3) National Christian Academy (Fort Washington, Md.) 24-0
Life Center proved to be more than just pesky, forcing National Christian into overtime before finally falling away. Next up is another challenge in a weekend tournament.4. (4) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia) 23-0
Neumann-Goretti will draw six-loss Archbishop Wood in the league championship next, but all of those losses were prior to Jan. 4. And Neumann-Goretti only beat Archbishop Wood by seven back in December, and that was on its home floor.5. (5) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 27-3
Life Center didn't go down without a fight, but Riverdale Baptist avenged an earlier loss with a 57-51 win. And Riverdale Baptist will continue its very tough schedule this weekend at the NACA championships and then conclude at the Bishop Walsh tournament in early March.6. (6) Centennial (Las Vegas) 27-1
All signs point to a Friday night meeting with 27-1 Bishop Gorman, which lost only to Bishop's of San Diego in overtime, the day after Christmas. The two Las Vegas rivals will battle it out, assuming both get through the next round, on a neutral court, and the winner will be the favorite to win the state title.7. (7) Miramonte (Orinda, Calif.) 24-0
Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler helped Jeremy Lin turn Linsanity into a $26 million contract by rebuilding his 3-point shot -- and his high school team is noted for its long-range accuracy. Miramonte plays its final game before the postseason at Scheppler's Pinewood team Saturday, and if enough 3's fall for the hosts, an upset is not out of the question.8. (8) Forestville (Md.) 16-2
The two toughest teams in Forestville's league remain on the schedule, followed by the Maryland 1A playoffs. It would be a major surprise if Forestville stumbles down the stretch, though one of their top players, Kiara Smith
, tore her ACL last week.9. (9) North Shore (Houston) 32-1
North Shore will very likely meet Manvel early next week in the Texas playoffs -- and don't forget that Manvel is the team that shattered Duncanville's hopes of a national title two years ago.10. (10) St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) 27-1
Georgia splits the A playoffs into private and public divisions, so St. Francis will face even less of a challenge in the postseason, which begins this weekend. A state championship seems foreordained.11. (11) Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.) 20-0
The convoluted New York playoffs are under way, but don't expect Cicero-North Syracuse to be challenged until Ossining shows up on the other side of the scorer's table. And down the road loom the New York City and Long Island powers.12. (12) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 18-3
Two more league games remain before California's lengthy playoffs begin, but though the West Catholic Athletic League was once a power, this year it has proved to be not much of a challenge for Mitty. No. 1 St. Mary's and No. 7 Miramonte, however, are likely postseason opponents down the road.13. (13) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) 27-1
Unlike California's West Catholic Athletic League, the DMV's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference hasn't dropped off at all -- and a strong showing by Paul VI in the league tournament this weekend could push PVI into the top 10.14. (14) Bellevue (Wash.) 23-0
It's not going to be an easy road for Bellevue, as next up is 21-1 West Seattle, led by 6-foot-7 Oregon signee Lydia Giomi. And note that West Seattle's only loss was to 21-1 Bishop Blanchet.15. (15) Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 21-1
Rock Canyon Thursday will be the final tuneup for Highlands Ranch, which will be going for its sixth Colorado title. The last one, though, was in 2007, so it's been a while.16. (16) Lynnwood (Bothell, Wash.) 21-0
The District 1 playoffs finish this weekend, and the likely opponent is Glacier Peak -- which Lynnwood beat by five (at Glacier Peak) and by 30 (at home). This one will be at a neutral site, but Lynnwood will still be the heavy favorite.17. (17) Villa Maria Academy (Erie, Pa.) 22-0
Villa Maria begins the District 10 playoffs this weekend, but should roll through the first two rounds. And though Hickory is 20-1, and is the likely opponent in the Feb. 27 district final, Hickory hasn't played anything like the schedule Villa Maria has.18. (18) Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 24-3
The most confounding loss of the season for Blackman was at home, against Stewarts Creek, in overtime. The two teams will likely meet again in the District 7 playoffs Saturday, though Stewarts Creek isn't a lock to beat Smyrna Thursday.19. (19) St. John-Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.) 21-1
Remember, the only St. John-Vianney loss was in triple overtime to No. 17 Villa Maria, and Vianney was missing one of its best players. That said, New Jersey is loaded with quality teams, and it's not going to be an easy ride to the finish.20. (22) Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas) 31-0
Mansfield Timberview plays one bracket down from No. 2 Duncanville and No. 9 North Shore, so doesn't face nearly the same challenge. In fact, its first tough postseason matchup will most likely not come until Feb. 27, with 27-1 Lufkin the potential opponent.21. (24) Grandview (Aurora, Colo.) 21-0
After disposing of Regis Jesuit 60-33, Grandview faces two below-.500 teams this week to finish off the regular season. Eventually, though, No. 15 Highlands Ranch will likely show up in the same gym.22. (NR) Seton Catholic (Chandler, Ariz.) 27-1
Seton Catholic jumps into the Xcellent 25, as the only loss all season was to No. 12 Archbishop Mitty in California. Seton will begin the Division II playoffs Friday, but its first challenge will most likely come from 25-4 Mesa Tuesday in the quarterfinals.23. (23) South (Wichita, Kan.) 17-0
Wichita South handled Wichita Heights, and has two easy league games remaining before the playoffs. Unfortunately, unbeaten Bishop Miege is in a different postseason bracket.24. (25) Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii) 27-1 *Season complete
Konawaena's only loss, to No. 8 Forestville, came after a 4,700-mile trip from Hawaii to Washington, D.C. -- and at home, Konawaena was clearly the best in the state. Maryknoll was the victim in the Hawaii championship game, which means Konawaena is the first member of the Xcellent 25 to complete its season.25. (NR) LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.) 30-0
LeFlore jumps into the Xcellent 25 on the strength of its unbeaten record and a win over Southwest DeKalb, a contender for Georgia's AAAAA title and a perennially strong team. Beating quality out-of-state opponents is a good way to earn a national ranking.
No. 20 Heritage, No. 21 Rutgers Prep