PHOTOS BY GLENN NELSON
In California, they play the girl's and boy's state championship games back-to-back - so there are 10 games over two days (Divisions I through V) and the best of both genders is on display.
Yes, the boys are more athletic. The McClymonds vs. Fairfax DI game was played way above the rim, and the Artesia boys looked like a college team. But you know what? The girl's games were more fun to watch because they were more competitive.
Now, that's not always the case, but the argument that says don't watch the girls because they can't dunk or can't do this or that misses the point: A good basketball game is a good basketball game. If it were only about talent, then all anyone would watch would be the NBA, because the worst NBA team would win the NCAA title without breaking a sweat.
And so maybe there weren't any dunks in the Sacred Heart Cathedral vs. Bishop Amat Division III girls' game, and maybe the And1 quotient was a lot lower- but it was a well-played game that went down to the final seconds of regulation before being decided in overtime.
Not incidentally, Sacred Heart Cathedral won that game, and kept its spot in the top 25, a spot it didn't have when the season began. In this final 2006-07 ranking, we check back in to see how this list compares to the one that came out in November, and who the surprises (such as Sacred Heart Cathedral) were.
1. (1) Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) 31-0: Collins Hill started the season No. 1, beat the No. 1 team at the Nike TOC in Phoenix, and left no doubt as to the best team in the country.
2. (2) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 35-1: Long Beach Poly, which began the season No. 1, defeated Berkeley in the California Division I title game, 58-52 – but the game was not nearly as close as the score indicated.
3. (3) Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, Va.) 29-1: The Dragons started the season No. 6, and proved to be better than that, losing, like Long Beach Poly, only to Collins Hill.
4. (4) Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.) 27-0: Murry Bergtraum was rated 14th in preseason, but after easily handling Rush-Henrietta in the Federation championship, they finish the season a solid No. 4. A tougher schedule would have moved them up.
5. (5) Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas) 40-0: Rockwall was unranked at the start of the season, as we went with Bellaire as Texas’ best. We missed badly in the Lone Star State.
6. (7) Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.) 36-2: The Friars began the season No. 9, dropped out for a while, and then beat Bolingbrook in the Illinois title game to return to the top 10.
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. (5) Rockwall (Rockwall, Texas)
6. (7) Fenwick (Oak Park, Ill.)
7. (8) Cy-Fair (Houston, Texas)
8. (9) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.)
9. (10) Washington (South Bend, Ind.)
10. (11) St. Paul Central (St. Paul, Minn.)
11. (12) Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.)
12. (13) Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.)
13. (14) Lewis and Clark (Spokane, Wash.)
15. (15) Kentwood (Covington, Wash.)
15. (16) Sacred Heart Cathedral (S.F., Calif.)
16. (17) Iota (Iota, La.)
17. (18) M.L. King (Detroit)
18. (19) The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.)
19. (20) Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.)
20. (21) Germantown Academy (Germantown,, Pa.)
21. (22) St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.)
22. (23) Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.)
23. (24) Mandan (Mandan, N.D.)
24. (25) Heights (Wichita, Kan.)
25. (nr) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)
16. Brea-Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
7. (8) Cy-Fair (Houston, Texas) 39-1: Cy-Fair started out number 20, but winning 39 out of 40 – and losing only to Rockwall – moved the Bobcats up to No. 7.
8. (9) Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) 31-2: The Raiders beat a lot of good teams, but lost to Fenwick. Still, they finished four spots higher than their original No. 12.
9. (10) Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 28-1: Skylar Diggins was even better than expected, so the Panthers jumped from preseason 25 to No. 9.
10. (11) St. Paul Central (St. Paul, Minn.) 32-0: Unranked and unknown, the Minutemen are neither now. With a lot of firepower back, they’re looking to upgrade their schedule.
11. (12) Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 31-1: The preseason assessment was that the Jaguars lost too much to be as good as they had been. But after beating Winter Haven and rolling through Georgia (until they ran into Collins Hill), Stephenson proved the prognosticators wrong.
12. (13) Winter Haven (Winter Haven, Fla.) 27-3: Winter Haven started 18th, and despite three losses, proved itself the class of Florida – and No. 12 in the nation.
13. (14) Lewis and Clark (Spokane, Wash.) 26-3: Chief Sealth was supposed to be Washington’s best, but the Nike TOC proved that belief incorrect. In the end, Lewis and Clark got the highest ranking.
14. (15) Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 28-1: The Conquerors were pretty much unknowns, but a win over Sacred Heart Cathedral in session two of the Nike TOC, and 27 other wins, landed them 14th.
15. (16) Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 32-2: A second miracle finish in two weeks – this one requiring a foul on a made layup with three seconds left that led to an overtime-causing free throw – moved the Irish, unranked in preseason, to No. 15.
16. (17) Iota (Iota, La.) 43-0: Louisiana seems to deliver a team no one has heard of every year – but few of them go 43-0. And Iota has everyone back.
17. (18) M.L. King (Detroit) 23-1: No Michigan team was ranked after the state’s fall season, but it was inevitable that the state’s best would land in the top 20.
18. (19) The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.) 27-3: Preseason No. 5, the Royals stumbled at the Nike TOC and then lost to Winter Haven – but they were still awfully good.
19. (20) Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.) 27-0: Despite two straight state titles, the Indians were way below the radar in preseason – but then they beat Sapulpa, and won another Oklahoma Golden Ball.
20. (21) Germantown Academy (Germantown, Pa.) 25-3: The feeling was that the several good Pennsylvania teams would beat up on each other so much that none would survive unscathed enough to be ranked. The Patriots, though, confounded that expectation.
21. (22) St. Elizabeth (Wilmington, Del.) 22-3: St. Elizabeth started 21 and finished 21 – the only team to make us look good. Ursuline, the Vikings’ rival, started seventh and finished unranked.
22. (23) Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.) 32-1: The Villains didn’t get any preseason love here, but after an early loss, rolled to another state title.
23. (24) Mandan (Mandan, N.D.) 24-1: Mandan was even more obscure prior to the season, despite the Braves’ longtime dominance of Montana. But winning the Energy Classic in Wyoming got our attention.
24. (25) Heights (Wichita, Kan.) 24-1: Heights started the year 13th, but battled back after an early loss knocked them out of the rankings.
25. (nr) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 31-4: The Monarchs lost only to No. 1 Collins Hill and No. 15 Sacred Heart Cathedral (three times), and had wins over Christ the King and Chief Sealth. When they beat Brea, that knocked the Ladycats out and returned the preseason number eight to the top 25.
16. Brea-Olinda (Brea, Calif.)
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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.