NEW YORK – There is no mincing words: The Miami (Fla.) Country Lady Spartans are the Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Champions. The Lady Spartans went 31-1 and won the DICK’S Sporting Good Nationals last weekend in New York.
In winning the program’s second DICK’S Nationals in three seasons, the south Florida private school is sitting atop the schoolgirl basketball universe.
Miami Country Day has sparkling dossier.
Coach Ochiel Swaby’s team played in a FHSAA Championship for the fifth-straight year and won it for the fourth straight time, beating Providence (Jacksonville), 81-40, in the Class 4A final. The Lady Spartans took their first 14 games, including key wins against defending-DICK’s Nationals champion Ribault (Jacksonville) and powerhouse Dillard (Fort Lauderdale); and nationally-ranked Elizabeth Seton (MD), Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) and Grandview (Aurora, Colo.) but lost to No. 3 Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.), 67-45, at the Nike Tournament of Champions in December.
They bounced back after Christmas to take the Naples (Fla.) Holiday Shootout against a highly competitive field. In the end, they beat five Florida state champions and two runners-up; plus two Elite 25 ranked teams at the DICK’S Nationals.
That equals the Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Championship.
There were no additions to the Elite 25 and there was minimal movement in the final two weeks of the season, with the exception of No.3 Clovis West, which hops up five slots after winning the CIF Open Division state championship in Sacramento, Calif. That was a quality postseason run in the nation’s toughest bracket.
This was a long, exhausting season, but it was a blast! It’s time to exhale, albeit briefly.
With myriad weekend events, shootouts and national tournaments between now and the end of July, there are great games and events to attend and cover on the club scene and with USA Basketball. Check back regularly at www.bluestarmedia.org for updates from around the basketball universe. Our contributors have the pulse of the global girls’ basketball scene.
The Blue Star Media Elite 25 preseason girls’ rankings will return in mid-November. I’d like to pass along my many thanks to the legions of loyal readers, who have made the difference this season. You have helped raise the awareness of the Elite 25 and our metrics on the site are growing. Keep visiting for those updates.
We hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Girls’ Basketball final rankings, April 5, 2017
1. Miami (Fla.) Country Day (31-1) ! ** *
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: The Lady Spartans are the Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Champions. They won the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals, crushing No. 13 Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 81-55, in the final. It was the second DICK’S Nationals title for coach Ochiel Swaby, with the first in 2015. Sophomore Maria Alvarez earned MVP honors after scoring 26 points, fueled by a tournament single-game record eight-made 3-pointers, in the championship; and Miami-bound Kelsey Marshall joined her on the all-tournament team. Channise Lewis, an Illinois signee, was the glue and the most outstanding performer. The Lady Spartans also captured the Class 4A state championship, for their fourth straight state title.
2. Centennial, Las Vegas (31-2)*
Low-down: Won a third straight Nevada Class 4A state championship. The Lady Bulldogs finish in the same spot for the second straight year.
3. Clovis West, Fresno, Calif. (34-2)*
Low-down: Won the CIF Open Division state championship, rallying in the fourth quarter to defeat then-No. 7 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), 44-40. The Golden Eagles closed with 14-3 spree to complete the comeback and win the program’s first state title and only the third in Central Section history. G Sarah Bates, a UC Santa Barbara recruit, was the MVP and scored 12 points, including 11 straight in the fourth quarter when her team trailed 37-30. The Eagles closed on a 19-game winning streak and improved to 117-15 in four years with four sectional crowns.
4. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (30-2) * *
Low-down: Won both District of Columbia State Athletic Association and Washington Catholic Athletic Association championships.
5. Riverdale, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (34-0)*
Low-down: Won second straight Class AAA championship. The Lady Warriors were hurt by not attending the Nike TOC due to inclement weather concerns.
6. Monacan, North Chesterfield, Va. (30-0)*
Low-down: Won third straight Group 4A championship. UConn-bound Megan Walker was named both the Naismith and Gatorade players of the year and played in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
7. Grandview, Aurora, Colo. (24-1)*
Low-down: Won Class 5A championship.
8. Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif. (28-3)
Low-down: Lost to then-No. 8 Clovis West (Fresno), 44-40, in CIF Open Division final, but captured highly competitive region and sectional titles.
9. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (32-2)*
Low-down: Won an 11th straight Virginia Independent Schools Division I state tournament.
10. Poly, Long Beach, Calif. (27-4)
Low-down: Advanced to the CIF-Southern Region final. Also won the Southern Section Open Division and Moore League championships.
11. Fayetteville, Ark. (30-2)*
Low-down: Won Class 7A championship.
12. Duncanville, Texas (39-2)*
Low-down: Won a second consecutive Class 6A state championship and the program’s 10th overall.
13. Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Chattanooga, Tenn. (29-2)* *
Low-down: The Lady Hawks won USA Prep National Championship and National Association of Christian Athletes Division I National Tournaments and advanced to the DICK’S Nationals final. Freshman Elizabeth Balogun was named to the DICK’S all-tournament team.
14. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (30-1)* *
Low-down: Won the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament and IAAM A state championship. Freshman Angel Reese was named to the DICK’S Nationals all-tournament team after the Lady Panthers dropped a 56-55 overtime loss to then-No. 14 Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.) in the semifinals.
15. Canyon, Texas (31-3)*
Low-down: Won a fourth consecutive Class 5A state championship and 19th overall crown.
16. Mesquite, Gilbert, Ariz. (31-1)*
Low-down: Won the 5A Conference state championship.
17. Destrehan, La. (35-0)*
Low-down: Won the Class 5A state championship. Season complete.
18. Olive Branch, Miss. (33-1)*
Low-down: Won Class 6A championship. Season complete.
19. McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga. (26-6)*
Low-down: Won the Class AAAAAAA championship. It was the fourth straight title in Georgia’s highest classification for the Indians.
20. Norcross, Ga. (29-3)
Low-down: Advanced to the Class AAAAAAA final.
21. Timberview, Mansfield, Texas (37-3)
Low-down: Advanced to the Class 5A state final.
22. Seton Catholic Prep, Chandler, Ariz. (29-4)*
Low-down: Won the Conference 4A state championship. The regular season is complete. The Sentinels played in a second straight DICK’S Nationals.
23. Detroit Country Day School, Beverly Hills, Mich. (26-1)*
Low-down: Won Class B championship. It was the 12th state crown in 50 seasons for coach Frank Orlando.
24. Homestead, Fort Wayne, Ind. (28-2)*
Low-down: Won Class 4A state championship.
25. Geneva, Ill. (29-4)*
Low-down: Won the Class 4A state championship.
High-Fives by Region
- Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (24-7)*
- Neumann-Goretti, Philadelphia (24-5)*
- Ursuline Academy, Wilmington, Del. (23-1)*
- South Shore, Brooklyn, N.Y. (25-4) * *
- Franklin, N.J. (25-7)* *
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- Elk River, Minn. (32-0)*
- Appleton (Wis.) North (28-0)*
- Incarnate Word Academy, Bel-Nor, Mo. (28-4)*
- Kirkwood, Mo. (28-3)*
- Archbishop Alter, Kettering, Ohio (28-2)*
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Ribault, Jacksonville, Fla. (26-3)*
- Wenonah, Birmingham, Ala. (31-3)*
- Wesleyan School, Peachtree Corners, Ga. (28-4)*
- Argyle, Texas (37-2)*
- Mercer County, Harrodsburg, Ky. (32-6)*
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- La Salle Catholic College Prep, Milwaukie, Ore. (26-2)*
- St. Mary’s, Stockton, Calif. (21-10)
- Windward, Los Angeles (30-4)*
- Konawaena, Kealakekua, Hawaii (27-3)*
- Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa, Calif. (30-4)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
! Blue Star Media Elite 25 National Champions
** Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Tournament champions
* Won state, national or conference/league postseason tournament championship (Some schools have won multiple tournament titles denoted by additional asterisks]
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 on April 5. Follow him on Twitter at #clawlor.