This marks the first time the Skyhawks have ever topped the FCP rankings, and they will have an opportunity to prove they belong at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Dec. 19-22, where two more of the top four teams in the nation also will be playing. Two players ranked among the nation's top 50 prospects by Scout and FCP, JJ Hones (off to Stanford next year) and Aarika Hughes (USC), lead Southridge, but 6-foot-3 sophomore Michelle Jenkins is also an elite player.
Last year's defending champions, Christ the King of New York, drop to No. 2, and despite severe losses to graduation, they still return Tina Charles, who is ranked as the nation's No. 1 prospect by Scout and FCP, and point guard Loren Dixon.
Fenwick of Illinois, which also returns a boatload of talent, is No. 3. Cardinal O'Hara of Philadelphia is No. 4, and Lexington Catholic of Kentucky rounds out the top five. Of note, Christ the King and Cardinal O'Hara will be at the Nike TOC in Phoenix.
"Though there are a lot of very good teams," said Clay Kallam of Full Court Press, who has been compiling these rankings for nine years, "there are no great ones. Any one of the top 10 could wind up claiming the national championship, and it wouldn't really be a big surprise if a team even lower in the preseason rankings finished No. 1."
Troy of California (No. 6), Murray Bergtraum of New York (No. 7), St. Mary's of Phoenix (No. 8), the Ursuline Academy of Delaware (No. 9) and Oregon City of Oregon (No. 10) complete the top 10.
The Ursuline Academy features 6-4 sophomore sensation Elena DelleDonne, who already is the object of serious attention from the top college teams in the country.
Shabazz of New Jersey, Bishop Amat of California, Northside of Arkansas, Collins Hill of Georgia and Riverdale Baptist of Maryland are the next five. "Shabazz and Bishop Amat don't travel," Kallam said, "so it's harder to get a line on those two teams. But Bishop Amat will play Troy this year, and Troy is in the TOC, so the Lancers should be able to justify this ranking with a good showing against their Southern California neighbors."
Four of the teams ranked 16th through 20th will play in Phoenix, and it's very likely that No. 18 Mountain View of Utah and No. 20 Prairie of Washington will meet in the finals of the only eight-team bracket at the tournament. Bishop McNamara of Maryland (16th) and Stephenson of Georgia (17th) should get their shots at teams ranked ahead of them in Phoenix with a chance to prove they are starting out too low.
"It's frightening to think that one of these highly ranked national teams could go 1-3 in Phoenix," Kallam said, "but that's how tough the tournament is."
Arlington Bowie of Texas is ranked 19th, as the Volunteers and sister Texans DeSoto (22nd) both stay home, "which makes it hard to determine how good they really are," according to Kallam. Bishop Gorman of Nevada (21st), North Central of Indiana (23rd), The Peddie School of New Jersey (24th) and Pendleton of Florida (25th) complete the top 25.
"These are very good teams, but there's not much to choose between them and the 11 schools on the "Teams to Watch" list," Kallam said. "Every time I go through the rankings, they come out different, but this is the one I finally settled on — and there are most likely some schools I didn't mention that could make a case they belong too. With so many high schools, and so few head-to-head games among elite teams, it's really a lot of educated guesswork."
1. Southridge (Ore.) 29-0
2. Christ the King (N.Y.) 32-0
3. Fenwick (Ill.) 33-3
4. Cardinal O'Hara (Pa.) 26-2
5. Lexington Catholic (Kent.) 36-1
6. Troy (Calif.) 31-2
7. Murray Bergtraum (N.Y.) 28-3
8. St. Mary's (Ariz.) 28-5
9. Ursuline Academy (Del.) 25-1
10. Oregon City (Ore.) 23-6
11. Shabazz (N.J.) 25-5
12. Bishop Amat (Calif.) 35-0
13. Northside (Ark.) 25-5
14. Collins Hill (Ga.) 31-1
15. Riverdale Baptist (Md.) 30-1
16. Bishop McNamara (Md.) 23-6
17. Stephenson (Ga.) 25-6
18. Mountain View (Utah) 23-2
19. Arlington Bowie (Tex.) 35-5
20. Prairie (Wash.) 27-3
21. Bishop Gorman (Nev.) 29-2
22. DeSoto (Tex.) 33-4
23. North Central (Ind.) 20-7)
24. The Peddie School (N.J.) 23-3
25. Pendleton (Fla.) 20-4
Teams to watch (in alphabetical order):
Chaminade-Julienne (Ohio) 25-2; Chief Sealth (Wash.) 27-2; Good Counsel (Md.) 28-4; Lewis & Clark (Wash.) 26-3; Long Beach Poly (Calif.) 29-4; Manchester (Conn.) 28-0; Mt. Juliet (Tenn.) 37-1; Narbonne (Calif.) 22-6; Redan (Ga.) 22-9; Notre Dame de Sion (Mo.) 24-3; St. Joseph's (Mo.) 18-8; St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.) 22-3, South Mecklenburg (N.C.) 24-5.
Southridge (Ore.) tops rankings
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