Commentary

Eyes on New York for title games

Updated: March 25, 2009, 8:55 AM ET
By Mindi Rice and Glenn Nelson | ESPN HoopGurlz

Editor's note: ESPN will release the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national girls' basketball rankings each Wednesday of the season.

Click here for regional rankings.

The Philadelphia Catholic League had been looking forward to March 20 and 21 for many months.

Carroll
AP Photo/John BealeArchbishop Carroll celebrates its state championship victory over Lampeter-Strasburg in the PIAA Class AAA title game.

In the first year of eligibility for PIAA crowns against public schools, the PCL's top two teams -- 3A Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.) and 4A Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.) -- advanced to Friday and Saturday's title games at the Penn State campus in State College, Pa.

Unfortunately, a PCL sweep of the state's top two classifications was not in the cards.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 No. 5 Carroll, with just a league loss to O'Hara blemishing its record this season, won its 22nd consecutive game Saturday, claiming the 3A title with a sound 68-45 defeat of Lampeter-Strasburg (Lampeter, Pa.).

But for the 4A entry, a state title wasn't meant to be.

Then-No. 6 O'Hara, which won December's Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona, had its depth tested against Pittsburgh's Mount Lebanon, but couldn't find an answer after Stephanie Holzer, the Lions' 6-foot-4 Vanderbilt-bound center, went down in the third quarter.

Holzer, who has battled a sore right ankle for the past six weeks, tried to tape it back up to return to the court, but couldn't put enough pressure on it for the trainer to OK her return.

Without Holzer, who left with 14 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes, the Blue Devils of Mount Lebanon outscored the Lions 35-23 in the remainder of the game for a 67-58 victory and a perfect 31-0 record.

As for Carroll, which won the girls title the night after the Carroll boys won their 3A title, eight players scored in the win, led by Hollie Mershon and Erin Shields with 13 points each. Kerri Shields was right behind with 12 points, hitting 4-of-6 from behind the arc.

One key to Carroll's victory was its three-point shooting. Led by the seven 3-pointers hit by Shields sisters, the Patriots hit 10 threes in the game, building up their lead to as much as 34 points in the second half.

Carroll loses four seniors to graduation this year, including three starters -- Boston College-bound Kerri Shields, Mershon, who heads to Drexel, and Kaitlin Cole, who will play at Holy Cross.

The Patriots finish their season at 30-1, while O'Hara went 28-3 and both programs showed the state that the PCL will be a major factor in the big-school basketball scene.

And one
As Minneapolis South (Minneapolis, Minn.) won its first state title Saturday with a 68-61 victory against Centennial, Tayler Hill decided to put on one more show. The senior scoring machine, who scored more than 3,700 points as a five-year starter, had a career-high 47 in her final game as a Tiger. Unofficially, she has 3,894 points -- controlling the state's record among boys and girls -- and the school has said they will retire the No. 3, Hill's jersey number. South was 140-15 during Hill's career.

The Marquee
With one state still playing, this week's marquee is in Glens Falls, N.Y. Saturday, No. 6 St. Michael Academy (New York City) will face an Ieasia Walker-led Copiague team for the right to play No. 11 Murry Bergtraum (New York City) in the N.Y. Federation Class AA championship Sunday. A St. Mike's-Bergtraum game has been a topic of discussion all season, but don't count out Copiague as South Carolina-bound Walker and classmate Gabby Gibson are talented scorers. Bergtraum has won the past two AA titles.

Off the bounce
Murry Bergtraum won its 11th consecutive PSAL championship Saturday with a 51-36 win against South Shore. … In Michigan, Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) claimed the Class B title behind a triple-double -- 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocks -- from Madison Williams, the No. 53 player in the ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 for 2010. Country Day defeated Catholic Central, 50-40, for its ninth state title in 14 years. … Seven seniors finished their careers at No. 12 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) with a fourth-straight state title after Saturday's 52-38 win against Toledo Start. Kendall Hackney -- 12 points and headed to USC, Gabby Smith -- 13 points and headed to Vanderbilt, and Ashley Fowler -- 10 points and headed to Ohio -- lead the heralded group in the championship game. … Colts Neck (N.J.) defeated then-No. 18 Shabazz (Newark), 58-48, Thursday to advance to Monday's New Jersey Tournament of Champions title game against No. 38 St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.). Vianney won the TOC, which will be reflected in the April 1 edition of the Fab 50. … New York crowns a champion this week to round out the high school girls basketball season.

Introducing
Minneapolis South (Minneapolis, Minn.) joins the FAB 50 at No. 50 after winning its first state title behind state star Tayler Hill.

Substitutions
Del City (Okla.), which wrapped up its 24-5 season a week ago with a 6A title, is bounced by Minneapolis South's win.

Discuss this on our Message Board

Mindi Rice is a staff writer for ESPN HoopGurlz. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at mindi@hoopgurlz.com.

Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.

Rankings: Preseason / Nov. 25 / Dec. 3 / Dec. 10/ Dec. 17/ Dec. 24 / Jan. 7 / Jan. 14 / Jan. 21 / Jan. 28 / Feb. 4 / Feb. 11 / Feb. 18 / Feb. 25 / March 4 / March 11 / March 18 / March 25 / Final

Records through March 22.

ESPN RISE FAB 50 Girls Basketball Rankings (March 25)
Rank Team (Location) Record Previous Rank
1 Ben Davis (Indianapolis) 30-0 1
2 South Bend Washington (South Bend, Ind.) 26-1 2
3 Bolingbrook (Ill.) 24-4 3
4 Heritage Christian (Indianapolis) 26-1 4
5 Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.) 29-1 5
6 St. Michael Academy (New York City) 23-3 7
7 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 32-1 8
8 Whitney Young (Chicago) 32-2 9
9 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) 31-3 10
10 Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.) 28-3 6
11 Murry Bergtraum (New York City) 24-1 11
12 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) 27-1 13
13 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 28-2 12
14 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) 24-4 14
15 Kentwood (Covington, Wash.) 28-1 15
16 Westbury Christian (Houston) 43-1 16
17 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) 37-4 17
18 Summit (Arlington, Texas) 34-4 19
19 Nimitz (Houston) 37-2 20
20 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.) 33-2 22
21 Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) 31-0 23
22 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) 29-2 18
23 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) 26-2 24
24 Memphis Central (Tenn.) 35-2 25
25 Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 25-0 26
26 Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) 26-1 28
27 Oak Ridge (Tenn) 29-4 27
28 Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) 33-3 29
29 Lower Richland (Hopkins, S.C.) 26-1 30
30 Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 32-3 34
31 West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) 27-3 32
32 Detroit Community (Detroit) 23-1 21
33 Westlake (Atlanta) 27-2 31
34 Millington (Tenn.) 33-3 33
35 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) 29-4 35
36 Cajon (San Bernadino, Calif.) 32-3 36
37 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 30-2 37
38 St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.) 30-2 38
39 Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) 24-1 39
40 Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 24-3 40
41 Broomfield (Colo.) 29-0 41
42 Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) 31-2 42
43 Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.) 24-2 43
44 Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) 31-4 44
45 Fayetteville (Ark.) 32-0 45
46 University (Newark, N.J.) 19-5 46
47 Fayette County (Fayetteville, Ga.) 31-1 47
48 Waco Midway (Waco, Texas) 35-4 48
49 Oak Hill (Ind.) 27-2 49
50 Minneapolis South (Minneapolis, Minn.) 31-2 NR