The scattershot nature of the high school sports' landscape means that some teams are about to enter postseason play, and some are weeks away — but the recent calm is liable to extend for a week or two more.
Sure, there will be some major matchups — round two of No. 2 St. John's and No. 3 Bishop McNamara is Saturday, for example — but for the most part the top teams will have it relatively easy for a while. One exception is No. 5 Sierra Canyon, which will start the highly competitive Open playoffs in California's Southern Section Saturday. Recall that there are nearly 600 high schools in the Southern Section (one of 10 sections in California), and the best eight, regardless of enrollment, are placed in the Open.
The Open division concept continues all the way to the end of the California playoffs (March 9 this year), and it's an idea that should be considered by more states. In Texas, for example, the two ranked teams are in different divisions and thus will not play — and ironically, the school in the higher division (Cedar Hill) actually has lower enrollment than the team in the next one down (Mansfield Timberview).
In the end, though, winning a state championship isn't easy, at all, and any team that survives the playoffs deserves to put a banner in the gym. In terms of the national rankings, of course, it would be nice if the top teams all played each other, but for the vast majority of schools, the national rankings are much less important than what happens close to home.
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Miami Country Day now moves into the Florida postseason, which is watered down by the fact there are nine separate postseason divisions — and of those nine, MCD is in the fifth group from the top. An upset there is unlikely, but even so, Miami Country Day has plenty of time to work on details, as the first game isn't until Valentine's Day.
After getting past Paul VI, on the road, St. John's hosts No. 3 Bishop McNamara at 2 p.m. Saturday. One bit of advice: Get your tickets now, and get there early, as the last game sold out.
Unlike St. John's, Bishop McNamara has a game Friday night, at 7 p.m. Assuming the game ends at 8:30 p.m. or so, that means McNamara will have around 18 hours before lacing ‘em up again for one of the most important games of the season. Remember, the last St. John's game went into overtime, and all that's at stake is a shot at the national title and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference crown.
Needed a final-seconds putback Monday to slip past Newark, another one of the many talented Ohio teams. The final was 47-45, and the next challenge for Africentric will be the Division III postseason.
California's Southern Section, always an innovative leader in prep sports, has changed its eight-team Open division (the best teams regardless of enrollment) to a round-robin, pool play format. Each Open team will play three games in its pool, and the pool winners will play for the Section title and the top seed in the Southern California Regionals.
After Wednesday's game against Arbor View — a team Centennial beat 84-26 the first time around – the Nevada 4A playoffs begin. And even though Centennial struggled a bit before winning it all last year, this year's path to a state title looks considerably easier.
Edison has had some time off, but will get back at it Thursday. The next big challenge, though, isn't until Feb. 16 when a trip to Wayne Memorial shows up on the schedule.
Next test likely won't come until Feb. 15 against Riverdale Baptist, a team that was in the Xcellent 25 earlier in the season. But should New Hope win out, a spot in the GEICO High School Nationals is almost assured.
Got past St. Frances, 58-57, Monday, but the two rivals will very likely meet again in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland Class A finals. The playoff begins Tuesday, but the big game won't be played until Feb. 17.
Beaver Dam has two more league games left — neither of which will threaten this ranking — before Wisconsin's postseason begins.
Has already beaten its most likely challenger for the 5A title, Amarillo, but that doesn't mean the seven-game postseason will be a smooth ride — in fact, in years past having ranked teams get upset is more the rule than the exception.
The Illinois regional playoffs begin next week, and it's a marathon, not a sprint. The championship game is March 2, and it takes nine wins to get there.
Two tough league games remain, the first against Conway (at home) Tuesday, and the second versus North Little Rock (on the road) Feb. 15. And then of course the teams could meet again in the 6A playoffs.
Only two games remain until postseason, and neither are likely to cause much of a struggle. That said, Ohio is loaded with quality teams this year, and winning the Division I title will be a steep mountain to climb.
Though St. Francis Prep at St. Francis Prep on Sunday isn't a walkover, the big one is the oft-postponed match with No. 17 St. John-Vianney on Tuesday in New Jersey.
Hamilton Heights, an independent, has just one game (this Friday) before taking a vacation until the National Association of Christian Athletes' championships begin Feb. 20.
Unlike a lot of teams in the rankings that finish the regular season with a couple ho-hum league wins, St. John-Vianney travels to talented Long Island Lutheran on Sunday and then hosts No. 15 Christ the King on Tuesday.
After already disposing of its local rivals in league play, Riverdale will get to do so again in the district tournament next week. After that, there will be some challenges in the AAA bracket.
Regular season is complete, and the 6A playoffs beckon. Sadly, there will be no shot at No. 11 Mansfield Timberview in postseason, as the two teams are in different divisions.
Thanks to a spectacular performance by Paige Bueckers
, Hopkins outlasted Wayzata 66-63 last week, but the two teams could meet twice more, on Feb. 22 at Wayzata and conceivably in the Minnesota postseason.
Off until next Tuesday, which will give Oklahoma's best time to prepare for the trip to Midwest City, and for postseason.
The backloaded St. Joseph Central schedule kicked up a notch with Boyd County, which was a serious test Tuesday, but Ashland Blazer, National Christian Academy and Riverdale Baptist may all be better.
League play is not much of a challenge for Southridge, and the playoffs don't begin for another three weeks. It's possible Beaverton could be a test Feb. 22, but the margin was plus-17 last time.
Germantown Academy has lost only to No. 1 Miami Country Day, and though its competition in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association most likely won't measure up to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, which is much larger and more competitive, Germantown Academy is still the state's best.
After hanging 108 on Green Run last week, Princess Anne's offense is clearly in gear — at least against teams with only three wins. Though the competition this week is a little stiffer, and a triple-digit score is much less likely, it would be a stunner if Princess Anne found a way to lose.Dropped out: