Video: Top 25 girls basketball rankingsSee this week's movement as MLK showcases promise to shake things up next week.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to reflect at the Civil Rights leader's struggle, progress and strides still to be taken.
And for a lot of high school basketball teams, including those in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings, it's also a time to hit the road for a long, mid-January weekend and play quality opposition that doesn't share the same area code.
For example, the No. 1 team in the country, La Jolla Country Day, will
travel nearly 500 miles to go from San Diego to
Stockton. It's a 7.5-hour drive —
assuming there's no traffic in the Golden State, which is like assuming
the sun won't rise tomorrow — or by plane, it's travel to the airport, security checks, hanging around the gate
and waiting for the family of four to get their luggage out of the
overhead compartments. Once the Torreys get there, they'll see familiar
faces: New Hope of Maryland, Perry of Arizona, Centennial of Las Vegas
and Regis Jesuit of Colorado, all of whom were at the Nike TOC in Phoenix, as was
host St. Mary's.
No. 2 Hamilton Heights will go even further,
more than 800 miles from Chattanooga to Brooklyn, to play two teams from
Canada, and though No. 3 Mount Notre Dame won't leave Ohio, it's
still driving 200 miles to play Winston Salem Christian this weekend.
The list could definitely go on, but even more important is the fact that many, many quality teams are also putting themselves on the road, and their reputations on the line, over this long weekend. All of the coaches taking on these challenges, regardless of the level of the team, deserve credit for helping grow the sport and giving their players a chance to learn how to perform outside their comfort zones.
And of course, the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend will also shake up the Top 25, which tends to settle in after the holiday tournaments as league play dominates schedules. And it won't be long after this until states start their postseason tournaments, and the primary goal of the elite teams — state titles — comes into sharper focus.MaxPreps Top 25 high school girls basketball rankings
1. (Last week 1) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.), 19-1
They make the trip north to Stockton and play two solid NorCal teams, Salesian and St. Joseph Notre Dame. LJCD will be the favorite in both games, but note that St. Joseph Notre Dame took No. 7 Sierra Canyon to overtime before losing at the West Coast Jamboree.
Hamilton Heights looks to conquer Canada this weekend, with games against Crestwood Prep and St. Laurent, two of the Great White North's best. And since Hamilton Heights hasn't played a game decided by single digits in more than a month, this ranking could be in jeopardy.
After hammering Ryle by 30, Mount Notre Dame faces a bigger test Sunday when powerhouse Winston-Salem Christian shows up on the other side of the scorer's table. Due to its willingness to re-classify players (make them sophomores, say, when in most schools they'd be juniors), Winston-Salem isn't ranked by MaxPreps, but the game results count.
Long Island Lutheran was supposed to take a step back this year, but unless you consider No. 4 in the nation underachieving, the reverse is the case. St. Laurent, though, will be a challenge Friday.
Hopkins rolls on, and should have no problems with its three games this week. Once-beaten Wayzata is set for Tuesday (Jan. 21) but Hopkins beat Park Center, which knocked off Wayzata by nine, by 18, and scored 97 points while doing so.
St. Frances jumps into the Top 10 thanks to a 10-point win over previous No. 4 South Shore — and is a prime example of how playing lots of tough teams gives a school some margin for error. St. Frances lost to No. 16 Riverdale Baptist, but its success against other elite teams more than makes up for that defeat.
Viewpoint is 12-4, which usually gets a team's attention, but forgive Sierra Canyon for looking past Viewpoint to Saturday's game at No. 18 Long Beach Poly. Poly has been on a roll, and the 7:30 p.m. game should be one of the best in the country this weekend.
Duncanville plays one team with a winning record the rest of the regular season, but has already beaten that team (Richardson) by 42. In other words, don't expect any bad news from Duncanville for quite a while.
Bishop McNamara needed an extra four minutes to get past Elizabeth Seton, but Elizabeth Seton is a quality team. So is Crestwood Prep, McNamara's opponent Sunday.
Edison was denied the chance to play against quality teams in Chicago due to the presence of Georgia players in the gym, so Michigan's best will have to settle for playing some quality local teams this week.
Unlike state-mate Duncanville, DeSoto's league is challenging, especially South Grand Prairie, which has beaten both teams, and SGP comes to DeSoto next Tuesday. And Friday's opponent, Mansfield Summit, is no pushover.
Millbrook has lost once this season, to Glenn, which has lost only to No. 6 St. Frances, so Southeast Raleigh's visit to Millbrook on Thursday could result in some shuffling of the rankings.
Ensworth will stay in league play the rest of the regular season, and its most threatening opponent there, Father Ryan, doesn't show up on the schedule until Jan. 28.
Bishop O'Connell will definitely put up a fight Friday when it comes to Fairfax, but Paul VI should manage to handle Washington Catholic Athletic Conference competition until its rematch with No. 9 Bishop McNamara on Feb. 4.
South Shore drops 11 spots after losing to new No. 6 St. Frances because its overall strength of schedule is simply not that strong. Of course, once-ranked New Hope will provide an upgrade, but that game isn't until Jan. 26.
Riverdale Baptist is one of those teams that makes it hard to do rankings. The win over No. 6 St. Frances is impressive, but the loss to Pallotti is confounding. So who knows what will happen Jan. 24 when Riverdale Baptist travels to No. 4 Long Island Lutheran.
Before Long Beach Poly can devote full attention to Saturday's game against No. 7 Sierra Canyon, it must deal with unbeaten league rival Millikan. Granted, Millikan hasn't played a team of the caliber of Long Beach Poly, but no team goes 15-0 without some fuel for the fire.
Nothing comes easy in Southern California, as Mater Dei fell to defending state champion Rosary last week, and then had to work hard to get past another SoCal stalwart, Harvard-Westlake. The rematch with Rosary, though, is next week.
Westlake did what teams that want to be ranked are supposed to do: Take the show on the road. Unfortunately, sometimes travel results in a loss, in this case to once-ranked Centennial of Las Vegas. But Westlake has done enough to retain its spot in the Top 25, though now the margin for error has been erased.
The next serious test for Wayne won't come until the end of the month, when a trip to once-beaten Fairmont is on the schedule. Survive that, and what looks to be a brutal Division I postseason will be even tougher.
Lovejoy lost to Westlake, so every loss by Westlake threatens Lovejoy's ranking. But Monday's game against Alabama power Hoover and a trip to New York the following week gives Lovejoy a chance to prove its worth regardless of what Westlake does.
Ryle was supposed to be the team to beat in Kentucky this year, but despite its talent, has struggled. Still, a win over ranked Sacred Heart on Friday could ease a lot of pain — so Louisville's best had best be ready to go.
The defining game for Northwestern's season (so far) will be Saturday against 17-1 Maine West of Illinois. Not only is Maine West the only out-of-state team Northwestern will play, it's the toughest game until the 4A playoffs begin.
After avenging a one-point loss to Montverde with a 14-point win, Lake Highland solidified its standing in Florida and its place in the Top 25. The next test will be against once-ranked Tampa Bay Tech on Jan. 25.
Jefferson City will stay in the Show-Me State the rest of the season, which won't give Jefferson City much of a chance to show the rest of the nation how good the team really is. But winning out against such teams as Rock Bridge and Incarnate Word will definitely move Jefferson City up in the rankings.Dropped out: