BENSALEM, Pa. – This was the first week of the New Year and there’s already movement in the Blue Star media Go-To 25 high school girls basketball rankings. Mater Dei (Santa, Ana, Calif.) holds onto the top spot after pedestrian victories.
No. 6 St. John’s (Olney, Md.) have two key games and No. 9 Columbus (Ind.) North is the fastest rising team in the rankings. Coach Pat McKee, whom I knew as a sports writer with the Indianapolis Star, took over the Bull Dogs a few years ago and took his squad to the Class 4A final in 2012 but fell a few points short. Ask anyone in the Hoosier State and Columbus North is a serious favorite to return to the championship, but this time take home the big prize. The Indiana playoffs start in less than a month; Florida is on the same pace.
The Midlands Region received a boost in the Go-To 25 rankings with the additions of teams from Michigan and Missouri, both worthy of national attention. Both are among the favorites in their respective states to take home hardware in the largest classifications.
We’re a weekend away from the Dr. Martin Luther King Weekend, with a plethora of high-end showcase events. Blue Star Media will have a strong presence at the Classic in the Country in Berlin, Ohio. If you’ve never attended, please do. Event director Tom Jenkins is a class act and helps secure some of Ohio’s elite talent and select out-of-state teams.
Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
1. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (14-0)
Previous: ranking 1.
Low-down: The Monarchs crushed two Southern California opponents. Stanford-bound Karlie Samuelson is a legitimate candidate for the McDonald’s All-American Game.
2. St. Mary’s, Phoenix (12-1)
Low-down: Defeated East Valley foes Chandler, 51-28, and Hamilton (Chandler), 57-39. The Lady Knights have three layup games against Phoenix schools this week.
3. Duncanville, Texas (26-0)
Low-down: The Pantherettes won their 54th straight, drilling Grand Prairie, 62-20, improving to 5-0 in District 7-5A play. Ariel Atkins is averaging 16.7 points.
4. North Gwinnett, Suwanee, Ga. (13-0)
Low-down: Georgia’s top-ranked largest classification (AAAAAA) team ripped two regional opponents. The Bulldogs have a showdown with No. 23 Norcross on Jan. 15.
5. Riverdale, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (16-0)
Low-down: Defeated rivals Oakland (Murfreesboro), 63-46. Middle Tennessee-bound Olivia Jones contributed a double-double, with 17 points and 16 rebounds. The Lady Warriors extended their win streaks to 39 games and 47 against in-state competition.
6. St. John’s, Washington, D.C. (13-0)
Low-down: The Cadets upped their WCAC record to 5-0 with two easy victories and have key games on the horizon with ranked Good Counsel (Olney) on Jan. 18 and Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) on Jan. 21.
7. Marion County, Lebanon, Ky. (15-0)
Low-down: Coach Trent Milby’s club recorded wins over Washington County (Springfield), 72-17, and Lexington Catholic, 75-27. Kentucky-bound Makayla Epps scored 27 points against Lexington Catholic.
8. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Minn. (13-0)
Low-down: Defeated Woodbury, 65-33, as Northwestern-bound wing Nia Coffey flipped in 19 points.
9. Columbus North, Columbus, Ind. (16-0)
Low-down: The Bull Dogs needed overtime, but beat then-No. 20 Whitney Young (Chicago), 72-67, in an interstate battle. Only seven games left in the regular season.
10. Shabazz, Newark, N.J. (8-0)
Low-down: The Bulldogs recorded a quality win, edging Bishop Ford (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 66-60. Zaire O’Neil (25 points) and Doniyah Cliney (23 points, four 3-pointers) teamed for 48 points.
11. Edwardsville, Ill. (15-0)
Low-down: Kortney Dunbar scored 26 points, sinking a trio of three-pointers, in a 75-29 win over O’Fallon (Ill.).
12. Fairmont, Kettering, Ohio (11-0)
Low-down: Smashed Beavercreek, 63-34. Next sizeable test is Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) on Jan. 19 at the Classic in the Country in Berlin, Ohio.
13. Windward, Los Angeles (15-0)
Low-down: The Wildcats trounced Campbell Hall (North Hollywood), 64-17, after a nine-day layoff.
14. Good Counsel, Olney, Md. (11-2)
Low-down: After knocking off two WCAC opponents, the Eagles opened the week playing undefeated Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) on Tuesday.
15. Poly. Long Beach, Calif. (12-2)
Low-down: Coach Carl Buggs’ club improved to 2-0 in Moore League play, thrashing crosstown rivals Jordan, 80-9. The Jackrabbits play Compton Wednesday.
16. Dr. Phillips, Orlando, Fla. (15-3)
Low-down: After nearly two-week layoff, the Panthers play three games this week as the regular season winds down.
17. Central Catholic, Portland, Ore. (9-3)
Low-down: The Rams jumped to a 27-1 lead after one period en route to a 79-23 win over Barlow (Gresham). Tennessee-bound G Jordan Reynolds (25 points) and Amantha Hood (23) combined for 48 points.
18. Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland, Calif. (7-3)
Low-down: K.C. Waters (16 points), Ariell Bostick (14) and Breanna Brown (9) combined for 39 points in a 79-24 win over Castro Valley. It’s a busy week for the Dragons, who have three games starting Wednesday.
19. Incarnate Word, St. Louis (12-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Pounded Miller Career Academy (St. Louis), 79-25. Senior G Nakiah Bell pumped in 21 points, junior C McKenna Treece had 15 and Napheesa Collier added 12. The Red Knights took a 21-8 lead after one quarter and cruised.
20. Science Hill, Johnson City, Tenn. (15-2)
Low-down: The Lady Hilltoppers cruised by Daniel Boone (Washington), 68-25. Junior C Gabby Lyon tossed in a game-high 15 points.
21. Martin Luther King, Detroit (7-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Michigan’s top-ranked Class A team is on a roll.
22. Riverdale Baptist, Upper Marlboro, Md. (14-2)
Low-down: After crushing Coolidge (Washington, D.C.), 85-48, the Lady Crusaders focus on a big-time matchup with No. 10 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) on Saturday in New Jersey.
23. Norcross, Ga. (12-2)
Low-down: Recorded a lopsided 25-point win over Duluth. The Blue Devils face No. 4 North Gwinnett (Suwanee) on Jan. 15 in a duel of Georgia’s top-two Class AAAAAA teams.
24. Archbishop Carroll, Radnor, Pa. (8-1)
Low-down: Registered a key 53-36 win over Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) at the New York vs. Philly Challenge in Ardmore, Pa. Also, it’s a Philadelphia Catholic League rivalry renewed on Wednesday against Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield).
25. Whitney Young, Chicago (13-3)
Low-down: Lost to No. 9 Columbus (Ind.) North, 72-67, in overtime. The Dolphins have a light schedule this week and remain unbeaten against Illinois foes.
Dropped: No. 13 Grosse Pointe (Mich.) South and No. 21 Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.).
High-Fives by Region
1. Seton LaSalle, Pittsburgh (9-1)
2. Archbishop Spalding, Severn, Md. (14-0)
3. Lake Taylor, Norfolk, Va. (13-0)
4. Point Pleasant (N.J.) Boro (9-0)
5. St. Anthony’s, Melville, N.Y. (7-3)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
1. Montini Catholic, Lombard, Ill. (20-1)
2. Bedford (Ind.) North Lawrence (13-0)
3. Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights, Ill. (15-1)
4. Twinsburg, Ohio (13-0)
5. Rock Bridge, Columbia, Mo. (8-3)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
1. Pflugerville, Texas (24-0)
2. Oakland, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (14-1)
3. Sparkman, Harvest, Ala. (18-0)
4. Dutch Fork, Irmo, S.C. (14-0)
5. Sacred Heart, Louisville (13-1)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
1. St. Mary’s Stockton, Calif. (10-1)
2. South Medford, Medford, Ore. (7-2)
3. St. Mary’s, Albany, Calif. (8-2)
4. Riverton, Utah (11-0)
5. Grandview Aurora, Colo. (8-0)
Geography: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Records are though Monday.
About: The Blue Star Media Go-To 25 Girls Basketball Rankings are released weekly until the conclusion of the high school season. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition and quality of league, conference, region or district. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Senior Writer Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers.
Christopher Lawlor is a Senior Writer for Blue Media and compiles the Blue Star Go-To 25 national boys and girls high school basketball rankings during the season. Lawlor, an award-winning writer, is a voting committee member and advisor for several national high school events, including the McDonald’s All-American Games. He previously wrote for USA TODAY and ESPN.com, where he was the national preps writer, while compiling the national rankings in four sports. He also managed the Gatorade national high school player of the year award program for a decade at Scholastic, Inc.
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