PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
The Blue Chip Saturday Showcase just outside Philadelphia lived up to its name, as many of the top teams in the Northeast - including No. 3 Notre Dame Academy and No. 4 St. Elizabeth - were in action at Archbishop Carroll High School.
The packed house saw nine games, the most thrilling of which was Carroll's 62-58 double overtime win over Ursuline Academy and Elena Delle Donne. But more significant for the national rankings was Germantown Academy handling St. Elizabeth of Delaware, thanks to the sparkling play of Caroline Doty and freshman guard Maggie Lucas.
On the flip side, Khadijah Rushdan did not have a good day for the Vikings, and they just couldn't get in done. Of course, it's always important to remember that it's very hard to beat a Philadelphia team in Philadelphia - the home city advantage isn't just a figment of losing coaches' imaginations.
Carroll, on the other hand, got what seemed like a killer call against it in the late going. The Patriots had stormed back, scoring 18 points in the last three minutes to take a two-point lead with 2.6 seconds left - and then were called for holding Delle Donne on the ensuing inbounds play. Delle Donne, who missed two free throws all last season, naturally made both, and the game went into OT.
But then Delle Donne actually missed a pair of free throws in the first overtime, and Carroll eventually pulled it out (thanks in great part to Usruline's Kayla Miller fouling out) at the end.
These Saturday shootouts have become January and February staples for the top teams, as they can lose their edge by spending too much time beating up on inferior league opponents. Even those without nationally ranked teams are often worth checking out, as top-rated regional teams jockey for postseason position in gyms all over the country. Of course, sometimes things don't work out quite as planned, as St. Elizabeth discovered, but if the goal is to make a team better, and prepare it for the playoffs, even a loss to a good team can be valuable.
1. (last week: 1) Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) 21-0: Two more wins last week for the Eagles, but the rematch with Mill Creek, which came within two points of Collins Hill on Jan. 5, is Tuesday.
2. (2) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 20-1: San Diego power La Jolla Country Day proved to be not much of a challenge - the final was 61-33. Another high quality SoCal team, Redondo Union, is up on Saturday.
3. (3) Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, Va.) 20-1: Six-foot-four junior center Azania Stewart has been playing well for the Dragons, who host one of D.C.'s best, Bishop McNamara, Saturday.
4. (6) Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.) 17-0: The Blazers may not have the raw talent of years past, but they play together - and that counts for a lot. Manhattan Center is on the schedule for the third time Friday, and the Rams played Bergtraum tough in the first two.
5. (5) Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 22-0: There was a time when Redan and Stephenson would have a battle between two of Georgia's best. Redan, though, has fallen back to the pack, so it should be another easy win for the Jaguars.
6. (7) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 21-1: Michigan State signee Brittney Thomas has been doing it all for the Raiders, who need someone above them to stumble in order to move up any higher.
1. Collins Hill|
2. Long Beach Poly
3. Notre Dame Academy
4. Murry Bergtraum
9. Lexington Catholic
12. Incarnate Word
14. Lee’s Summit
15. Archbishop Mitty
16. Christ the King
17. Winter Haven
18. The First Academy
21. St. Elizabeth
22. St. Paul Central
23. North Little Rock
24. Bishop McGuinness
21. Lewis and Clark
7. (10) Brea-Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 19-0: Thanks to the Southern Section, one of 10 California districts, it's quite possible Brea-Olinda might not even make the Southern California regional playoffs, and thus be denied a shot at a state title. But it's nothing new - the Southern Section, the largest in the state, has always felt its championships are more important than the California playoffs..
8. (8) Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas) 30-0: Rockwall just keeps beating up on inferior Texas competition. Maybe the playoffs will provide a challenge, but until then, the weak schedule prevents the Jackets from climbing any higher.
9. (9) Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Kent.) 21-1: Sacred Heart Academy isn't the Kentucky power it was when Crystal Kelly and Carly Ormerod were there, but the Valkyries are still very good - and they're on deck Thursday.
10. (11) Cy-Fair (Houston, Texas) 30-0: Like Rockwall, Cy-Fair is just too good for the teams it plays, which begs the question of why the Bobcats (and Rockwall) don't find a shootout they can play in - or schedule each other. Most likely the Texas powers will meet in postseason, but it may be that only one stays in the top 25 after that.
11. (12) Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.) 23-1: The Friars will take a trip to Pennsylvania this weekend, but sadly not play any of the Philly powers, or Upper Dublin. Expect another easy week.
12. (13) Incarnate Word (St. Louis, Mo.) 16-1: Incarnate Word keeps rolling along, and should continue to do until Feb. 9, when a trip to formerly ranked St. Thomas Aquinas of Kansas should provide some excitement.
13. (14) Edison (Alexandria, Va.) 17-1: The second and third place teams in the National AAA district, Yorkton and Mt. Vernon, are up this week - but the Eagles should have no problem retaining their ranking.
14. (15) Lee’s Summit (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) 20-0: The Tigers have a peculiar schedule this week - they play Raymore-Peculiar Monday. Six-two Danielle Adams scored 46 in the two routine wins last week.
15. (16) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 14-2: The Monarchs beat state-ranked Berkeley last Saturday, and this week they have two league games against state-ranked teams as well. If they're here next week, they've earned it.
16. (17) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 13-3: Archbishop Carroll just beat Ursuline in double overtime, and the Royals get Carroll next. Texas teams, take note: You can play tough opponents at any time.
17. (18) Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.) 21-3: The Blue Devils are getting great production from Tiffany Hayes, and that's more than enough until the state playoffs begin.
18. (20) The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 19-3: The Royals put the hurt on Bishop Moore, which had lost only once all season, in a 44-24 pounding last week. Four players were in double figures for First Academy, which now seems primed to run the table in its smaller school classification.
19. (nr) Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 17-0: The Conquerors take advantage of Lewis and Clark stumbling against Shadle Creek to move into the rankings - and they're this high because of a couple of key Christmas wins in Arizona.
20. (19) Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 20-1: That's 20 straight for the Panthers, and in an 81-21 win, Skylar Diggins had 25 points in 20 minutes.
21. (4) St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.) 14-2: The Vikings don't play as tough a schedule as some of the other top teams, so when they lose to an unranked team, even a pretty good one like Germantown Academy, they don't have a lot of quality wins to offset the upset.
22. (21) St. Paul Central (St. Paul, Minn.) 18-0: After six straight games in the 90s against Minnesota competition, the Minutemen slumped all the way to 76 last time out - and only won by 40, the closest game they've played since December.
23. (23) North Little Rock (Little Rock, Ark.) 18-1: It's big game Friday night at 16-3 Conway - and the hosts are only charging a dollar to maximize the home court advantage. North Little Rock hasn't won by fewer than 11 points since Dec. 8, so a close game in a hostile environment could shake up the rankings.
24. (24) Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.) 20-1: Katheryn Lyons is the top player, but she sat out last week - so the Villains only won 51-19. The playoffs start next week.
25. (25) Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.) 13-0: The winning streak is up to 25, though Metro Christian put up a battle in an 11-point loss. Against Coweta, 5-3 junior Angel Goodrich had 30 points, seven steals, six rebounds and six assists.
Dropped out: No. 21 Lewis and Clark (Spokane, Wash.)
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Clay Kallam is the publisher of Full Court Press (www.Fullcourt.com), an online magazine devoted to women’s basketball. The author of the book “Girls Basketball: Building a Winning Program (Wish Publishing, 2002), Kallam has written about the women’s game for several national publications and is a voter for the McDonald’s All-American team, the Parade All-American team, the All-WNBA team and the Wooden Award. He is the coach of The Bentley School girls’ varsity basketball team and formerly wrote for the Contra Costa Times newspaper chain.