PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
There's no doubt who's No. 1: unbeaten Collins Hill of Georgia.
The Eagles rolled over previously number five Stephenson, 81-64, in the semifinals of the Georgia 5A championships, and then disposed of South Gwinnett, 61-37, in the finals to win their third straight state title and first-ever national crown. (Last year, Collins Hill was second nationally, losing only to champion Christ the King in a controversial overtime game at the Nike TOC in Phoenix.)
The biggest game was against Stephenson, which had played a much less demanding schedule than the Eagles, but still came in unbeaten and out to prove it was the better team. Maya Moore dazzled the 10,000-plus in attendance with 26 points, 20 rebounds and five assists, and Jordan Jones contributed seven three-pointers, six rebounds and four steals as Collins Hill proved its dominance.
There's still some juggling to be done in the rest of the top 25, however, as both California and New York won't finish their seasons until the weekend of March 24, and a few other states still are in action. But as to best high school team in all the land, that's been decided: it's Collins Hill of Suwanee, Ga.
1. (1) Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) 31-0: The Eagles had to survive a brutal preseason schedule that saw them in Phoenix the week before Christmas - where they beat the number two and number three teams in the nation - and then in Seattle the week after, where they beat number 23. That established Collins Hill as number one, and the Eagles never faltered thereafter.
2. (2) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 34-1: The Jackrabbits will play a familiar opponent in the Southern California finals - A.B. Miller, a team they beat 65-59 back in December. That was one of the closer in-state games for Poly, but the Rebels haven't lost since.
3. (3) Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, Va.) 29-1: The Dragons were rolling along in the finals of the Bishop Walsh tournament, beating St. Frances of Baltimore by 11 when the Panthers caught fire to cut it to one. But Azania Stewart blocked four shots on one possession, and Notre Dame went on a 24-3 run to finish the season with a loss only to Collins Hill.
4. (4) Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.) 25-0: The Blazers will face a tough test Sunday against league rival J. F. Kennedy for the right to go to Glen Falls and play for the state title. Though they've won both games against Kennedy, the last win was by only six.
5. (6) Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas) 40-0: With Stephenson's loss, the Jaguars move up another spot. Had they played, and beaten, any other elite teams, they'd be at least No. 2.
6. (7) Brea-Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 32-1: Once again, Stanford-bound Jeannette Pohlen led the way, averaging 33 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the Ladycats two wins. If they win again Saturday, they advance to the Division II state title game March 23.
1. (1) Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.)|
2. (2) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
3. (3) Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, Va.)
4. (4) Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.)
5. (6) Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas)
6. (7) Brea-Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
7. (8) Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.)
8. (9) Cy-Fair (Houston, Texas)
9. (10) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.)
10. (12) Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
11. (15) St. Paul Central (St. Paul, Minn.)
12. (5) Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
13. (13) Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.)
14. (14) Lewis and Clark (Spokane, Wash.)
15. (16) Kentwood (Covington, Wash.)
16. (17) Sacred Heart Cathedral (S.F., Calif.)
17. (18) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
18. (19) The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.)
19. (nr) Iota (Iota, La.)
20. (20) M.L. King (Detroit)
21. (21) Germantown Academy (25-3)
22. (22) Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.)
23. (23) St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.)
24. (24) Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.)
25. (25) Mandan (Mandan, N.D.)
No. 11 Edison (Alexandria, Va.)
7. (8) Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.) 36-2: The Friars' four senior starters went out just like the feel-good movies say they should - with a state championship.
8. (9) Cy-Fair (Houston, Texas) 39-1: The Bobcats, like Rockwall, remain a bit of a mystery because they never ventured far from home.
9. (10) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 31-2: The Raiders lose Britteny Thomas and four other key seniors, but return an outstanding backcourt.
10. (12) Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 28-1: The Panthers have finished playing, but keep climbing in the rankings.
11. (15) St. Paul Central (St. Paul, Minn.) 29-0: The Minutemen have set an all-time Minnesota record for most points, and are three games away from the state championship.
12. (5) Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 31-1: The Jaguars did a little talking before their matchup with Collins Hill, and the words came back to haunt them. Still, a great season.
13. (13) Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.) 27-3: The Blue Devils were hopeful that Stephenson would pull off the upset and move up in the rankings, since they lost to the Jaguars - but no such luck, and Winter Haven stays at 13.
14. (14) Lewis and Clark (Spokane, Wash.) 26-3: Two of the losses were to University, which the Tigers beat three times. The other loss was to Shadle Park, and the Tigers beat the Highlanders twice.
15. (16) Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 28-1: The Conquerors' season ended only after a spectacular comeback fell just short - but the win over Sacred Heart Cathedral in Phoenix turned out to be pivotal in the rankings.
16. (17) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 30-2: It was supposed to be a tough game against young and talented St. Mary's of Stockton: final score, 79-51. Next up is Sacramento, led by Tennessee-bound Vicki Baugh.
17. (18) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) 22-3: The Royals draw star-studded St. Michael's this week, which was first tossed out of postseason for playing too many games, then reinstated.
18. (19) The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 27-3: Several seniors played key roles, so it will be tough for the First Academy to be ranked this high next year.
19. (nr) Iota (Iota, La.) 43-0: Forty-three up and none down is awfully impressive - and even more so for a school of 430 that beat Louisiana's 5A (largest schools) champion, Ellender, twice.
20. (20) M.L. King (Detroit) 23-1: It seems that every year Michigan's girls are ordered to switch to winter basketball, but it never seems to happen.
21. (21) Germantown Academy (25-3): The Patriots' win over St. Elizabeth of Delaware is their main claim to this spot - oh, and the other 24 victories.
22. (22) Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.) 27-0: Everyone returns for the Indians, who won their third straight 3A title - and beat Sapulpa, the 6A winner, earlier in the year.
23. (23) St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.) 22-3: With the graduation of Khadijah Rushdan, the epic battles between Ursuline, with junior Elena Delle Donne, are over. But the state title banner for 2007 will remain.
24. (24) Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.) 32-1: No doubt here: The Villains tied East Bladen to the tracks and then ran them over, 79-42, to win their second straight title.
25. (25) Mandan (Mandan, N.D.) 24-1: Senior Jessica Kielpinski (off to New Mexico in the fall) led the Braves to their fifth straight title. Devils Lake was the victim this time, 58-51.
11. Edison (Alexandria, Va.)
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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.