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|The top two seniors in the country have their teams peaking late in the season.|
The season continues to wind down and the margin for error continues to get slimmer with each round of playoffs. There has been no shortage of top 20 teams falling in recent weeks. But the nation's two top seniors have their respective teams playing great basketball at the right time.
Out West, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) has been quietly playing its best basketball of the season. On the East Coast, Elizabeth Williams, the No. 2 player in the 2011 class who missed nine games this season with a sprained medial collateral ligament, helped her Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) team to avenge its only loss of the season, with a 66-62 win over Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.).
Williams injured her knee on Dec. 29 in a big Princess Anne victory over Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.). The first of her nine games out of action was Princess Anne's 39-34 defeat to Lake Taylor in the Ronald Curry/Boo Williams Girl's Christmas Classic.
In retrospect, Williams sees her injury as a blessing in disguise and a key to how good her team is now.
"It actually worked to our advantage because everyone had to look to score," Williams said.
With the nation's top senior post out of the lineup, the team found a more aggressive and confident mentality.
Princess Anne avoided the emotional letdown Monday night against Woodside (Newport News, Va.), winning the regional championship 56-42. Williams said she didn't play her best individual game -- a triple-double with 12 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks -- but that's why this team is so good right now and closing in on another Virginia AAA state championship.
Despite being ranked in the top three of the POWERADE FAB 50 for the entire season, including opening the season at No. 1, Mater Dei is hitting its stride.
"I feel like if we're not at our peak, we're getting there," said Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the No. 1 prospect in the senior class, according to ESPN HoopGurlz. "We've grown a lot since that last loss. Team chemistry is great."
The team suffered its only loss of the season in the semifinal of the Nike Tournament of Champions. The five-point loss to Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) was expected to set the table for a playoff rematch. A season ago, Mater Dei rebounded from an early season loss to Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) to beat its Orange County rival in the playoffs and ultimately finished the season as the nation's No. 1 team.
Poly was bounced out of the sectional playoffs by Santa Monica (Santa Monica, Calif.) in a heart-breaking 57-56 loss.
"We were looking forward to avenging that loss but with Poly out, we move forward," Mosqueda-Lewis added.
Mosqueda-Lewis loves the defense that her team is playing now and cites the team figuring out everyone's roles with so many new faces as a major reason the team is surging late. But the Connecticut-bound senior, who has made 93 threes in the Monarchs 27 games this season, has no intention of overlooking anyone.
"Santa Monica is a great team and they can beat us and keep us from reaching our goal of another national championship," Mosqueda-Lewis said.
This is the time of year when special players rise to the occasion, like Williams' triple-double or Mosqueda-Lewis' 29 points and five 3-pointers in the quarterfinals against Etiwanda (Etiwanda, Calif.). Both players know they can carry the load if their team needs it. But they are at peace with how much success their teams are having with teammates stepping up as well.-- Chris Hansen
Through an extended partnership with When We Were Young Productions/PlayOn Sports, ESPN3.com will air all girls' high-school championship games from Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee. Saturday, March 5, will be a particularly busy day with ESPN3.com carrying eight championship games from all three states. The full schedule (all times Eastern):Friday, March 4: Illinois 3A semifinal, 1 p.m.; Illinois 3A semifinal, 3:15 p.m.; Illinois 4A semifinal, 7:30 p.m.; Illinois 4A semifinal, 9:15 p.m. Saturday, March 5: Indiana A final, 9:30 a.m.; Indiana 2A final, 11:30 a.m.; Tennessee Division II Class A, 12:00 p.m.; Illinois 3A final, 4:00 p.m.; Tennessee Division II Class AA final, 4:00 p.m.; Indiana 3A final, 4:00 p.m.; Indiana 4A final, 7:00 p.m.; Illinois 4A final, 9:00 p.m. Saturday, March 12: Tennessee 1A final, 3:00 p.m.; Tennessee 2A final, 5:00 p.m.; Tennessee 3A final, 7:00 p.m.
Or not.Still following? We elevated Potter's House over now-No. 4 Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.) because Potter's wins the "eye test" in our opinion. The Lady Lions haven't played a schedule like, say, No. 7 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), but they've played everyone they could and have beaten aforementioned Riverdale Baptist, among others. Besides, Bolingbrook can make another run at the penthouse with an impressive victory over No. 10 Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.) in the Illinois 4A semifinal on Friday, followed by the Raiders' third straight state title on Saturday. In a topsy turvy week, Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) jumped into the top 10 at No. 5 after a victory over then-No. 7 Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.). We also welcomed the following into the Fab 50: No. 43 Alief Elsik (Houston, Texas), which toppled North Shore (Houston, Texas), which had toppled previously No. 31 Cypress Falls (Houston, Texas), and around and around Houston goes; No. 47 Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), which just claimed the Florida Class 6A title, and No. 50 Canyon (Canyon, Texas), which improved to 33-0. Alas, we bid adieu to previous No. 45 Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.), which lost to Minnetonka (Minnetonka, Minn.); No. 47 Holy Cross (Kensington, Md.), which suffered its sixth loss, and No. 49 Lake Mary (Lake Mary, Fla.), which lost to Dr. Phillips in the Florida 6A championship. -- Glenn Nelson
Records are through Feb. 28, 2011 games, where reported.
* denotes a team's season has ended.
Previous National Rankings: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |
|Rank||School (City, State)||Record||Prev|
|1||Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.)||28-0||1|
|2||Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)||27-1||3|
|3||Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)||29-1||5|
|4||Bolingbrook (Bolingbrook, Ill.)||26-2||4|
|5||Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)||28-1||18|
|6||St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)||22-2||6|
|7||Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)||28-4||8|
|8||Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)||27-0||9|
|9||Westbury Christian (Houston, Texas)||37-1||10|
|10||Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.)||24-2||11|
|11||Spring Valley (Spring Valley, S.C.)||28-0||13|
|12||North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Ark.)||27-0||12|
|13||Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)||30-1||14|
|14||Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.)*||25-1||7|
|15||Polytechnic (Long Beach, Calif.)*||25-3||2|
|16||Neptune (Neptune, N.J.)||22-1||15|
|17||St. John's (D.C.)||30-2||19|
|18||Monarch (Louisville, Colo.)||21-3||16|
|19||St. Mary's (Phoenix Ariz.)||26-2||17|
|20||Hoover (Hoover, Ala.)||32-3||20|
|21||Butler (Matthews, N.C.)||30-0||21|
|22||Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.)||27-2||22|
|23||Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.)||22-3||27|
|24||Goose Creek (Goose Creek, S.C.)||28-2||23|
|25||Start (Toledo, Ohio)||16-2||24|
|26||Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)||21-3||26|
|27||Twinsburg (Twinsburg, Ohio)||21-0||28|
|28||Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.)||19-0||29|
|29||Clarksville (Clarksville, Tenn.)||30-3||30|
|30||MacArthur (Irving, Texas)||33-2||32|
|31||Troy (Fullerton, Calif.)||27-3||33|
|32||Norcross (Norcross, Ga.)||25-3||34|
|33||Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.)*||23-1||35|
|34||Inkster (Inkster, Mich.)||20-2||36|
|35||Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa)||21-2||37|
|36||Midwest City (Midwest City, Okla.)||25-0||38|
|37||Hollywood Christian (Hollywood, Fla.)*||31-1||39|
|38||Webb City (Webb City, Mo.)||25-2||40|
|39||Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.)||34-1||41|
|40||Madison Academy (Madison, Ala.)||34-3||42|
|41||Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.)||24-2||44|
|42||St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.)||23-3||43|
|43||Alief Elsik (Houston, Texas)||30-5||NR|
|44||Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)||27-4||46|
|45||Heights (Wichita, Kan.)||20-0||48|
|46||Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)||26-1||50|
|47||Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)*||31-2||NR|
|48||Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.)*||30-2||25|
|49||Cypress Falls (Houston, Texas)*||34-2||31|
|50||Canyon (Canyon, Texas)||33-0||NR|