BENSALEM, Pa. – The operative word this week is throwback. There’s a trend that defensive minded teams that display grit and sweat are winning games. It’s easy to spot a mismatch when the Blue Star Media Elite 25 girls’ basketball teams play, but when are paired with another national caliber program, defense or at least those who execute the fundamentals with the game on the line wins.
We’re just over a week from February and it’s no surprise that the postseason follows. There’s a reason why Elite 25 teams are looking for quality games at this juncture. For that throwback feeling, multiple games in a historical venue, head to The MECCA High School Girls Basketball Challenge this weekend at the famed Gauchos Gym in Bronx, N.Y.—a short walk or one subway stop from Yankee Stadium.
The action tips off Friday afternoon at 5 o’clock EST with four games; there are nine games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. There are teams from mostly the Northeast and two from Canada. The games that stand out from the lot include No. 2 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) vs. No. 6 Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Saturday, 5:45 p.m.; and No. 21 Baldwin (N.Y.) vs. Franklin (N.J.), Sunday, 4:30 p.m. Baldwin also has its hands full on Friday against Rock Creek Christian (Upper Marlboro, Md.) tipping at 8:45.
It’s considered a premier event and worth the drive or hopping on the 4 or 5 Train heading uptown from Manhattan.
The Elite 25 rankings reached into the Upper Midwest for the No. 24 Eastview (Apple Valley, Minn.) Lightning as this week’s lone addition. The Lightning are currently the state’s No. 1 team and have opened the season with 15 straight wins and own a signature win over previously ranked Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.), a team they will likely see in the Class 4A state tournament.
Check back regularly at www.bluestarmedia.org for staff updates from major events and the state tournaments. We have the pulse of the girls’ basketball world. This week Mark Lewis, Blue Star Media’s shutterbug and national columnist/evaluator did a bang-up job covering the Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic in Louisville, Ky.
The Elite 25 girls’ basketball rankings will return on Jan. 31. Wow, cross off another month on the basketball calendar.
Make time to attend a game this weekend; there are plenty to choose from. Next week, Hawaii conducts the Division I and II state tournaments in Honolulu. After that Indiana and Florida are on the clock.
We hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Girls’ Basketball rankings, Jan. 17, 2018
1. Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif. (17-0)
Previous rank: 1.
Low-down: The schedule thins out for the Monarchs, who crushed Sacred heart Cathedral Prep (San Francisco), 93-47, in the West Catholic League. There’s only one game this week with St. Francis (Mountain View) on Wednesday.
2. Christ the King, Middle Village, N.Y. (13-0)
Low-down: Coach Bob Mackey’s club sits atop the NYCHSAA Brooklyn-Queens Class AA tables after dispatching St. Francis Prep (Fresh Meadows), 63-45, for the second time this season. The Royals play No. 6 Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Md.) on Saturday at The MECCA Challenge in the Bronx.
3. Duncanville, Texas (30-1)
Low-down: Just five games remain in the regular season and the District 7-6A title is still up for grabs, but coach Cathy Self-Morgan’s squad can make a serious with two more wins, including another matchup with Cedar Hill on Friday. Last week, Zarielle Green, a Tennessee recruit, was selected for the McDonald’s All American Game.
4. Riverdale, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (20-1)
Low-down: It was another successful out of state trip last weekend, beating Kentucky power Male (Louisville), 74-63, at the Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic. Vanderbilt-bound Brinae Alexander scored 20 points and Alasia Hayes contributed 18. Seven games are left in district play and the regular season.
5. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (15-1)
Low-down: The Cadets have three games in seven days this week, capped by Sunday’s date with Georgetown Visitation (Washington).
6. Riverdale Baptist School, Upper Marlboro, Md. (13-3)
Low-down: After an 11-day layoff for midterm examinations, the Lady Crusaders defeated Capital Christian (Upper Marlboro), 88-47, and King’s Fork (Suffolk, Va.), 58-51. This weekend is a loaded schedule in New York against No. 18 Long Island Lutheran (Brookville) on Friday and No. 2 Christ the King (Middle Village) on Saturday at The MECCA Challenge in the Bronx.
7. Hamilton Heights Christian, Chattanooga, Tenn. (19-2)
Low-down: In another week of national caliber competition, the Lady Hawks swept Miami (Fla.) Country Day, 71-39, and Mercy (Louisville, Ky.), 75-45, last weekend at the Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic in Louisville. Last week Georgia Tech-bound Elizabeth Balogun received terrific news when she was selected to play in the McDonald’s All American Game in March at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Balogun had a game-high 19 points and sophomore Treasure Hunt added 16 against Mercy.
8. Princess Anne, Virginia Beach, Va. (13-1)
Low-down: After netting a season-high 116 points and then 78 points in a pair of Beach District triumphs, the Cavaliers have one game this week against Kempsville (Virginia Beach) on Friday.
9. St. Mary’s, Stockton, Calif. (18-2)
Low-down: Defeated Modesto Christian, 71-29. The Rams play Lincoln (Stockton) on Wednesday.
10. Paul VI, Fairfax, Va. (17-2)
Low-down: Ashley Owusu provided a boost with 22 points as the Panthers held off stubborn Elizabeth Seton (Bladensburg, Md.), 63-54. Next up are two WCAC games at St. Mary Ryken (Leonardtown, Md.) on Tuesday and Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.) on Friday. Circle Feb. 2 on your calendar that’s the regular season rematch at No. 5 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.).
11. Bradley Central, Cleveland, Tenn. (20-0)
Low-down: It was a slow week but the Bearettes managed a 69-43 victory over McMinn County (Athens) moving to 7-0 in District 5-AAA. This week the action picks up with three games.
12. Centennial, Las Vegas (19-3)
Low-down: The Lady Bulldogs improved to 7-0 in the Class 4A Northwest League a pair of victories. There are only five games left in the regular season.
13. Edwardsville, Ill. (19-0)
Low-down: Sophomore G Quierra Love’s career-high 19 points propelled the Tigers past St. Joseph’s Academy (St. Louis), 51-43.
14. Westlake, Atlanta (17-1)
Low-down: Georgia’s top-ranked Class AAAAAAA squad played only once last week.
15. Winter Haven, Fla. (21-0)
Low-down: Zakayah Franklin flipped in 8 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to help the Blue Devils rally past Melbourne, 56-38, at the LeDawn Gibson Honorary Homecoming. Gibson coached the Blue Devils to glory before heading to Florida A&M a decade ago. Diamond Battles continued her trademark sticky defense and threw in 13 points.
16. Southeast Raleigh, Raleigh, N.C. (17-0)
17. Mercer County, Harrodsburg, Ky. (19-2)
Low-down: It was a banner weekend in Louisville as the Titans sweep two games at the Raatz Fence/O’Shea’s Classic, beating then-No. 24 Incarnate Word Academy (Bel-Nor, Mo.), 63-60, and Miami (Fla.) Country Day, 67-55.
18. Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y. (10-3)
Low-down: In the lone action of the week, the Lady Crusaders outlasted Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia), 50-43. Next up is a showdown with No. 6 Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, Md.) on Friday. Additionally, Livija Kaktaite, a native of Lithuania, verbally committed to George Mason.
19. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal, Atlanta (17-1)
Low-down: The Golden Bears played rival Wesleyan School (Peachtree Corners), No. 2 in Georgia’s Class A-Private rankings, on Tuesday.
20. Collins Hill, Suwanee, Ga. (16-2)
Low-down: The Eagles captured their only game last week with inclement weather wreaking havoc in Georgia.
21. Baldwin, N.Y. (11-1)
Low-down: Sarah Henry had 14 points and 10 rebounds in a 75-27 win over Herricks (New Hyde Park) and Old Dominion-bound Aziah Hudson netted 21 points in a 70-36 victory against Port Washington. The Bruins play twice at The MECCA Challenge this weekend.
22. Montini Catholic, Lombard, Ill. (24-2)
Low-down: The Lady Broncos eked out wins over Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.), 51-42, and DuPont Manual (Louisville, Ky.), 50-49. Next up is Iowa City (Iowa) West Saturday at the Bradley University Shootout in Peoria.
23. Hoover, Ala. (23-1)
Low-down: Defeated Thompson (Alabaster), 54-31, and Vestavia Hills, 71-27.
24. Eastview, Apple Valley, Minn. (15-0)
Previous: Not ranked.
Low-down: Minnesota’s top-ranked Class 4A team is 8-0 in the South Suburban Conference with two games this week, including Lakeville North on Friday. Six-foot Megan Walstad is the Lightning’s leader at 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. The Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit recently scored her 1,000th career point.
25. Edison Public School Academy, Detroit (9-1)
Low-down: The Pioneers recorded a quality win over Africentric Early College (Columbus, Ohio), 65-62 in overtime. Africentric checked in as Ohio’s top-ranked Division III team. This week they played defending Division 2 champion Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) on Tuesday.
Dropped out: No. 24 Incarnate Word Academy, Bel-Nor, Mo.
High-Fives by Region
- North Allegheny, Wexford, Pa. (14-0)
- St. John Vianney, Holmdel, N.J. (12-0)
- Manasquan, N.J. (11-1)
- Trinity Episcopal School, Richmond, Va. (12-0)
- Bishop McNamara, Forestville, Md. (14-3)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- East Kentwood, Kentwood, Mich. (12-0)
- Pike, Indianapolis (20-1)
- Newark, Ohio (13-0)
- Iowa City, Iowa (15-0)
- Incarnate Word Academy, Bel-Nor, Mo. (11-4)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (29-2)
- John Curtis Christian, River Ridge, La. (21-1)
- Choctaw Central, Philadelphia, Miss. (20-0)
- Cibolo (Texas) Steele (27-3)
- Montverde (Fla.) Academy (15-3)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- Central Valley, Veradale, Wash. (16-0)
- Mesquite, Gilbert, Ariz. (19-3)
- Windward School, Los Angeles (12-3)
- Southridge, Beaverton. Ore. (15-1)
- Maryknoll, Honolulu (25-2)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
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. Teams with fifth-year or reclassified players won’t be considered. 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 @clawlor.