LONDON – Miami (Fla.) Country Day can rest easy for a few weeks. The No. 1 Spartans clinched a fourth straight Florida state championship last weekend, coasting to the Class 4A crown and now begins the final quest: The DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Tournament title.
That four-team tournament won’t tip until March 31 in New York but the Spartans earned it with two lopsided wins at The Lakeland Center and challenging national schedule.
Moving up to No. 2 is Centennial (Las Vegas) and the new No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.). Centennial bagged another Nevada Class 4A chip and SJC finally captured the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Tournament after three years of watching No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) hoisted the championship trophy.
Re-entering the Elite 25 is No. 23 Canyon (Texas) after winning the Class 5A, Region 1 championship. The Eagles are on a collision course to play No. 14 Timberview (Mansfield, Texas) in the final.
This weekend Illinois and Texas will crown stat champions. Three teams from the Elite 25 are going in Texas and one in Illinois. So far seven schools have won state, national or major conference tournament championships. No. 3 St. John’s is a perfect example of winning a conference title that is better than most state titles. The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is a three-month grind. Teams must play one another home and away, mixed in with national caliber tournaments and shootout games, and then a weeklong conference tournament. The quality of coaches, players and schools make this event a quality championship worthy of high praise.
No. 16 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) will play at the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament in Cumberland, Md. Again this is another major postseason tournament that eastern private schools aspire to win.
As for visiting England, basketball is a niche sport here and virtually non-existent. I attended the Chelsea vs. Swansea City soccer match at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. If you’ve never been to an English Premier League match in England, put it on your bucket-list! I’ve been to several over the years and the passion is unmatched. I’m an ardent Chelsea supporter and it was another great day at the Bridge. But the Elite 25 rankings are a priority so I filed from here.
The next round of Elite 25 rankings comes out March 8. Check back regularly at www.bluestarmedia.org for updates from around the basketball universe. Our contributors have the pulse of the girls’ basketball scene.
Until the next time, stay well! Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Girls’ Basketball rankings, March 1, 2017
1. Miami (Fla.) Country Day (29-1)*
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: Won Class 4A state championship, thumping previously unbeaten Providence School (Jacksonville), 81-40. It was Spartans fourth straight state title. Miami-bound Kelsey Marshall had 26 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals and Channise Lewis posted a double-double with 12 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds. In the semifinals, they walloped Seffner Christian, 81-42. Marshall had 27 points and 12 boards. Up next is a break then preparation for the Dick’s Nationals later this month in New York. The regular season is complete.
2. Centennial, Las Vegas (31-2)*
Low-down: Won third straight state championship, crushing Bishop Manogue (Reno, Nev.), 97-52, in the Class 4A final. Justice Ethridge netted 22 of 24 in the opening half and Arizona-bound Samantha Thomas added 19 points and 6 rebounds. In the semifinals, the Lady Bulldogs walloped Liberty (Henderson), 76-51, as Jayden Eggleston contributed 23 points and 6 rebounds. Season complete.
3. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (28-2)*
Low-down: Won the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, rallying to beat then-No. 2 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 58-52, as Virginia Tech-bound Aisha Sheppard scored 24 points. That ended three years of frustration and loss in the WCAC title game. The Cadets won the season series, 2-1, after splitting the two regular season games.
4. Monacan, North Chesterfield, Va. (27-0)
Low-down: Won second straight Group 4 East Region title, defeating King’s Fork (Suffolk), 74-65. Connecticut-bound Megan Walker, who is on target to be the national player of the year, scored 20 of her game-high 24 in the first half. Up next is the 4A state quarterfinals on Thursday against Charlottesville at the Salem Civic Center. The semifinals are Saturday versus Lake Taylor (Norfolk) or Loudoun County (Leesburg). The 4A final is March 10 in Richmond.
5. Riverdale, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (29-0)
Low-down: Advanced to the Class AAA regional final, toppling Lawrence County (Lawrenceburg), 73-40, in the semifinals. The Lady Warriors play district rival Stewarts Creek (Smyrna) in the final on Wednesday. The AAA sectional final is Saturday with the winners going to the states.
6. Grandview, Aurora, Colo. (20-1)
Low-down: Overwhelmed Dakota Ridge (Littleton), 88-31, in the Class 5A state second round and played Arapahoe (Centennial) in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday. The Great 8 is Friday.
7. Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif. (22-2)
Low-down: Defeated St. Francis (Mountain View), 89-34, CIF-Central Coast Section Open Division quarterfinals and met Valley Christian (San Jose) Tuesday in the semifinals. That winner plays Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (San Francisco) or Pinewood School (Los Altos Hills) in the championship game Friday at Santa Clara University’s Leavy Center.
8. Clovis West, Fresno, Calif. (28-2)
Low-down: The Golden Eagles opened the postseason in the CIF-Central Section Division 1 quarterfinals, beating Stockdale (Bakersfield), 87-29. Up next was Central (Fresno) on Tuesday in the semifinals. The final is Saturday.
9. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (29-2)
Low-down: Upended in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, losing to then-No. 5 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), 58-52, in the final. The Panthers were done in by 14-1 run in the third quarter after leading 34-31. Though it was a shocking loss, the Panthers move on to the Virginia Independent School Division I state tournament starting on Wednesday with the quarterfinals. The semifinals are Friday and the title game is Saturday in Richmond.
10. Poly, Long Beach, Calif. (24-3)
Low-down: Ayanna Clark recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 and bounds and Jasmine Jones added 19 points and 12 boards in a 67-53 win over Troy n the CIF-Southern Section Open Division semifinals. The Jackrabbits play Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) for the sectional title Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
11. Butler, Louisville, Ky. (30-2)
Low-down: Won the 22nd District tournament, defeating Doss (Louisville), 82-21. Also, Indiana-bound G Jaelynn Penn scored 24 points as the Bearettes opened the Sixth Region thrashing Moore (Louisville), 81-20, in the quarterfinals.
12. Montini Catholic, Lombard, Ill. (32-1)
Low-down: Aaliyah Patty and Kaylee Bambule scored 12 points apiece and the Lady Broncos defeated Homewood-Flossmoor, 39-35, in double overtime in the Class 4A Super-Sectional. That means the Lady Broncos face unbeaten Edwardsville in the 4A state finals on Friday in Illinois State’s Redbird Arena in Normal. The championship and third-place game are Saturday.
13. Fayetteville, Ark. (27-2)
Low-down: The Class 7A quarterfinals are Friday against Har-Ber (Springdale) or Conway. The semifinals are Saturday.
14. Timberview, Mansfield, Texas (36-2)
Low-down: Won the Class 5A, Region 2 title, defeating Liberty (Frisco), 53-47, in the final. The Wolves are off to San Antonio for the 5A state tournament semifinals where they meet Region 4 champion Flour Hill (Corpus Christi) on Thursday.
15. Duncanville, Texas (37-2)
Low-down: The Pantherettes are back in the Class 6A state tournament semifinals after knocking off South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie), 62-49, in the Region 1 final. They play Converse Judson Friday in the 6A semifinals in San Antonio.
16. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (27-0)*
Low-down: Idle. The Panthers play the host school Thursday afternoon at the prestigious Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament in Cumberland, Md.
17. Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Chattanooga, Tenn. (23-1)*
Low-down: Won the National Association of Christian Athletes Division I National Tournament, topping Potters House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.), 75-39, in the final. The Lady Hawks swept three games in round-robin pool play in Dayton, Tenn.
18. Mesquite, Gilbert, Ariz. (31-1)*
Low-down: Won the 5A Conference state championship, defeating Sierra Linda (Phoenix), 59-38. It was the first title in the program’s 20-year history. Junior G Shaylee Gonzales topped the Wildcats with 21 points and classmate Lindsey VanAllen had 20. Season complete.
19. Norcross, Ga. (27-2)
Low-down: Defeated Marietta, 76-47, in the Class AAAAAAA second round. In the quarterfinals, the Lady Blue Devils played Westlake (Atlanta) on Tuesday. The state semifinals are Saturday.
20. Destrehan, La. (32-0)
Low-down: Defeated Ouachita Parish, 78-63, in the Class 5A quarterfinals. The 5A semifinals are Thursday versus Natchitoches Central in Hammond.
21. Olive Branch, Miss. (30-1)
Low-down: In the Class 6A second round, the Quistors beat Warren Central (Vicksburg), 75-59. They face Jim Hill (Jackson) on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The Final Four starts on March 8.
22. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Minn. (25-0)
Low-down: Idle. The Class AAAA sectionals open Thursday versus Washburn (Minneapolis).
23. Canyon, Texas (29-3)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: The Eagles are back in the Elite 25 after knocking off then-No. 11 Amarillo, 46-42, in the Class 5A, Region 1 final. Coach Joe Lombard’s team avenged a regular season and is making a 27th all-time appearance in the state tournament. On Thursday, they face Barbers Hill (Mont Belvieu) in the 5A semifinals. The final is Saturday.
24. Seton Catholic Prep, Chandler, Ariz. (29-3)*
Low-down: Won the Conference 4A state championship, defeating Cactus Shadows (Cave Creek), 61-27, in the final. It was the Sentinels’ third title in four seasons and sixth this decade. The Wirth sisters, both Gonzaga signees, were brilliant with Jenn hitting for a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards, and LeeAnne had 6 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Also crushed Coconino, 52-19, in the semifinals. Season complete.
25 Detroit Country Day School, Beverly Hills, Mich. (19-1)
Low-down: Minnesota-recruit Destiny Pitts netted 16 points and the Yellowjackets beat Notre Dame Prep (Pontiac), 72-38, in the Class B 45th district tournament and play Lutheran North (Macomb) Wednesday in the semifinals. Also closed out the regular season with a 71-31 win over Grosse Pointe North, while Pitts dropped in 25 points and Kaela Webb added 19 in an 85-63 victory over Renaissance (Detroit).
Dropped: No. 11 Amarillo (Texas).
High-Fives by Region
- Ursuline Academy, Wilmington, Del. (19-1)
- Rutgers Prep, Somerset, N.J. (25-1)
- North Allegheny, Wexford, Pa. (22-1)
- St. Rose, Belmar, N.J. (24-3)
- McDonogh, Owings Mills, Md. (24-3)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Edwardsville, Ill. (31-0)
- Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (28-2)*
- Appleton (Wis.) North (24-0)
- Newark, Ohio (25-0)
- South, Wichita, Kan. (20-0)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Ribault, Jacksonville, Fla. (26-3)*
- St. Francis, Alpharetta, Ga. (25-4)
- Deshler, Tuscumbia, Ala. (34-0)
- Fort Gibson, Okla. (26-0)
- Liberty Hill, Texas (35-2)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Central Valley, Spokane Valley, Wash. (24-0)
- Mission Hills, San Marcos, Calif. (27-2)
- La Salle Catholic College Prep, Milwaukie, Ore. (22-2)
- Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland, Calif. (26-3)
- Carondelet, Concord, Calif. (26-4)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
* Won state, national or conference/league postseason tournament championship
About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Girls Basketball Rankings are released weekly from November 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 the team’s league, conference, region or district. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released in April. Follow him on Twitter at #clawlor.