STORY & PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
A very good year, 2006 was the perfect time for HoopGurlz.com to expand its focus nationally. Not only did we get to view the continued evolution of the game, to girls who are bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled than ever, we also got to witness extraordinary events and performances.
The following are our choices for the top stories from our first year on the national scene:
HOOPGURLZ.COM'S TOP STORIES OF 2006
1. Prince Scores 113
Epiphanny Prince, then of Murry Bergtraum High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., figures there were about eight people in the Bergtraum gym for a seemingly meaningless game against Brandeis, a perennial doormat in the Public Schools Athletic League. Yet, it didn't take long for millions more to find out what had happened during Bergtraum's 132-37 victory on Feb. 1 - the 5-foot-9 Prince had done the unthinkable, scoring 113 points to break Cheryl Miller's national high-school record of 105 points in a single game. Mind-boggling, the performance also touched off a national debate on sportsmanship. Prince went on to Rutgers, where as a freshman she leads the team in scoring.
Original HoopGurlz Story: Girl 113
2. Moore Ends Big Year|
For the sixth time during a dizzying 11-day stretch on a national stage, Maya Moore of Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga., surpassed a standard she'd set during her previous outing, confirming for all her status as the country's No. 1 high-school player. Scoring 38 points in the first half, Moore finished with a career-high 48, passing up numerous opportunities for 50 at the end, as Collins Hill collected the inaugural T-Mobile Invitational championship in Seattle, Wash., with a 74-63 victory over St. Elizabeth of Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 29. That victory came less than a week after a Nike Tournament of Champions title, for which Moore won games in every way imaginable.
Original HoopGurlz Story: My Oh Maya!
3. Christ the King Repeats National Title
In an era when the talent level is exploding nationwide in girl's basketball, the prospect of two straight, unbeaten national-championships seasons by a single high school is difficult to contemplate. Yet Christ the King pulled it off with aplomb, defeating Courtney Paris and Piedmont in the TOC championship game one year, then Maya Moore and Collins Hill the next. Not to mention other great national powers, plus local rivals Murry Bergtraum and the great Epiphanny Prince. In the process, coach Bob Mackey helped develop a veritable constellation of prep stars, including Tina Charles and Lorin Dixon (UConn), Carem Gay (Duke) and Sky Lindsay (St. John's).
Original HoopGurlz Story: No. 1 ... by a Whistle
4. Baugh Commit Makes Tennessee No. 1|
The most anticipated commitment of the year belonged to a girl from Sacramento, Calif., whom some believe is the No. 1 prospect in the country. The Nov. 8 commitment by Vicki Baugh, ranked a lofy No. 5 by HoopGurlz, was going to directly impact the race for the mythical national recruiting championship and her verbal to Tennessee gave coach Pat Summitt a tremendous, undeniably No. 1 class. In addition to Baugh, Summitt eventually signed Angie Bjorklund, the No. 2 overall prospect; Kelley Cain, the No. 12 prospect, and Sydney Smallbone, No. 38. As evidenced by Tennessee, this year also marked the return to recruiting prominence by the college ranks' superpowers.
HoopGurlz Story: A Perfect Tenn.
5. UConn Lands a Pair of No. 1s
While other programs exceeded Connecticut in terms of depth of numbers, coach Geno Auriemma pulled out the ultimate number - 1 - not once, but in consecutive years, first signing Tina Charles of Christ the King in the 2006 class, then Maya Moore of Collins Hill from 2007 on April 10. Both are certifiable winners - Charles leading her high school to consecutive national titles and Moore looking to help Collins Hill succeed CTK this year. The two staged an epic battle during the 2005 Nike Tournament of Champions title game, showing off their shared, somewhat old-school qualities of competitiveness, leadership and work ethic, to go along with extreme athleticism and length.
Original HoopGurlz Story: UConn Nabs Another No. 1
6. Chief Sealth Recruiting Scandal|
Many will argue that recruiting goes on all the time in the high-school ranks al over the country, but it's not often that an illegal-recruiting scheme of this magnitude gets exposed and leads to major ramifications. According to sources and documents obtained by HoopGurlz.com, coach Ray Willis and his staff falsified leases and receipts, made promises of playing time and other inducements to recruit several elite-level players who helped the Seattle, Wash., school win consecutive state championships and earn national rankings. Willis and his staff were fired, and Sealth was forced to forfeit all games the past two season and was stripped of its state championships.
Original HoopGurlz Story: Time for Closure
7. Metros Win Nike Nationals
With help from the likes of Tennessee commit Alicia Manning, Maya Moore added generously to her high-school legacy with four dellicious games culminating in the Georgia Metros' 62-59 overtime victory over the Tennessee Flight on July 31. That victory earned the Metros the title of the most prestigious tournament on the summer club circuit. Moore left her stamp on the championship game by calming transporting the ball the length of the floor and depositing a seven-foot pullup jumper as time expired in regulation. Earlier in the event, she had 42 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and three assists in one game, and dominated another despite scoring just nine.
Original HoopGurlz Story: Determination Wins Nike Nationals
8. Girls Show Out at adidas|
Earlier in the summer, on the "other side of the aisle," as you might put it, adidas' most prestigious title was claimed on July 16 by Finest Basketball Club (FBC) of California, which earlier in the year had won the Deep South Classic, pulling off the biggest double possible for the Three Stripes group. Later that night, the best talent in the adidas stable gathered for the Top Ten All-American all-star game and showed a raucous crowd just how far the girl's game had come. The game was marked by a remarkable sequence by Samantha Prahalis of Long Island, N.Y., followed by a memorable exchange between Nikki Speed of Pasadena, Calif., and Anjale Barrett of the Bronx, N.Y. It was the kind of stuff seen previously only in the boy's game.
Original HoopGurlz Story: A Rise in Girl's Hoops
9. USA Basketball's Disappearing Shooters
The big clang heard in mid-June emanated from Colorado Springs, Colo., where USA Basketball was holding tryouts for its U18 team. With the nation's top snipers - Angie Bjorklund (stress fracture), Elena DelleDonne (ankle) and Jacki Gemelos (knee) - sidelined, there was a noticeable dearth of perimeter shooters at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The dismal shooting display prompted Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer to lament, "It's not just bad. It's horrendous." She and others sounded the alarm about the future of American marksmanship that should be heeded immediately. As college coaches from coast to coast are declaring, any high-school prospect who can shoot it a little is "solid gold."
HoopGurlz Story: Where are the Shooters?
10. Appel's Rise|
It is pretty much conventional wisdom that girls don't make gigantic strides in their development after, say, the 8th or 9th grades. So Jayne Appel;s move from No. 5 in the 2006 class to No. 3 in the final rankings should not be taken lightly. HoopGurlz.com already thought well enough of Appel to put her initially in the top five, which usually doesn't get altered during the year. However, Appel came on like gangbusters throughout the season, ending it with an MVP performance at the McDonald's All-American Game that showed off her versatility as the best pure post in the country who also could step out and hit three-pointers, pass and handle the ball.
Original HoopGurlz Story: No Biggie
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Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girl's basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.