Editor's note: ESPN will release the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national girls' basketball rankings each Wednesday of the season.
Basketball fans in Southern California had been keeping their fingers crossed for the matchup of Division II powers then-No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and then-No. 30 Brea Olinda (Brea, Calif.).
In different leagues, the ranked teams didn't face each other during the season until Saturday, when the game was for a berth in the state championship, and Brea fans rejoiced as the Wildcats bounced previously undefeated Mater Dei, 44-38.
Senior Jonae Ervin led Brea with 18 points and junior Kelsey Harris added 12 for the Wildcats, who forced 29 turnovers. The Monarchs shot 2-of-16 from behind the arc and couldn't bounce back from a 12-6 first quarter by Brea. Sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led Mater Dei with 10 points, while freshman Jordan Adams added nine.
With the win, Brea faces Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) in Friday's 6 p.m. Division II championship.
It wasn't any easier in the northern part of the state, where then-No. 7 Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) and then-No. 16 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) faced off in a rematch of 2008's northern championship, where then-junior Tierra Rogers put the Irish ahead in the final seconds and then-sophomore Afure Jemerigbe missed a shot at the buzzer.
Just like the season before, the Irish-Rams battle came down to the final seconds, where Chelsea Gray, No. 18 in the 2010 ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60, hit the game-winning bucket as the clock expired, grabbing a 62-60 victory and ending Sacred Heart's state title streak at three. Despite beating the Rams on rebounds, 39-20, and shooting 58 percent, Sacred Heart was done in by 29 turnovers.
Gray finished with 24 and Jemerigbe added 20 for the Rams, who play 19-16 Inglewood (Calif.) in Saturday's 1 p.m. Division III championship.
In the Division I title, Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) faces Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.) at 6 p.m. Saturday after a loss to Cajon sent Poly into the CIF bracket at the South's No. 2 seed.
The Jackrabbits rebounded from their third loss of the season to defeat Santa Monica, Stockdale, Troy and Colony -- which ousted Cajon the previous round -- in the span of six nights, sending Poly back to the CIF championship game for a chance at a fourth-straight Division I title.
In the other CIF games, Pinewood (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and Bell-Jeff (Burbank, Calif.) play at 3:30 p.m. Friday for the Division V title, while Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.) and Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista, Calif.) play for the Division IV title at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
No. 14 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) didn't have to go through the usual Continental League foes for a state title this year, Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) did that for the Raiders. After eliminating ThunderRidge and Colorado's three-time-defending 5A champion Highland Ranch, the Coyotes ran into Regis in Friday's championship. Texas Tech signee Mary Bokenkamp, one of coach Carl Mattei's seven Division I-bound seniors, led the Raiders with 18 points in a 44-37 win for the program's first state title. Diana Rolniak, the No. 83 player in the ESPN HoopGurlz 100 and bound for Utah, added nine points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
With public and non-public group champions crowned, New Jersey heads into its Tournament of Champions this weekend with No. 18 Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) and No. 38 St. John Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.) earning first-round byes into Thursday's semifinals while four teams played Tuesday. The semifinal winners play Monday for the Jersey TOC title.
Off the bounce
No. 5 Archbishop Carroll (Radnor, Pa.) and No. 6 Cardinal O'Hara (Spingfield, Pa.) both played PIAA semifinal games Tuesday night in the hopes of heading to State College, Pa., for a state championship game Saturday. Carroll, a 3A school, and O'Hara, a 4A program, are the Philadelphia Catholic League's hopes for a state title in the league's first year of PIAA eligibility. No. 35 Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.) won its fifth state title in six years Saturday with a 71-31 victory against Savannah Country Day. Anne Marie Armstong led the Wolves with 16 points and 11 rebounds in her final high school game before heading to Georgia this fall. No. 39 Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, Md.) took home a fifth consecutive state title Saturday with a 67-39 win against Blake. Senior Olivia Applewhite scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Raiders, who finished the season with a 21-game winning streak. No. 32 West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) claimed the program's first state title Saturday with a 78-60 win against Durham Hillside in the 4A championship. Christal Caldwell, who has signed with Florida. led the way with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for the Lions, while Louisville-bound Nikki Burton added 16 points. The Lions' senior class won 103 games in their four years. Joslyn Tinkle, No. 10 in the ESPN HoopGurlz 100, led Big Sky (Missoula, Mont.) to its second straight 2A title with 18 points in a 56-46 win against Butte. Tinkle will play at Stanford next year. This weekend marks the end of the season for more states as Alaska, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania crown champions.
Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.) debuts at No. 25 this week after sneaking under the radar for the season and winning Georgia's 5A title with a 25-0 record. One week removed from its near-defeat of Heritage Christian, Oak Hill (Ind.) joins the Fab 50 at No. 49. With a win against then-unbeaten Midwest City for Oklahoma's 6A title, Del City (Okla.) rounds out the list at No. 50.
Three teams depart the rankings this week, starting with Washington Township (Sewell, N.J.), which wraps up its season at 26-5 with a loss to Colts Neck. Also leaving are Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), now 30-2, after a state semifinal loss to eventual champs Redan and Midwest City (Okla.), which finishes at 25-1 after a championship-game loss to Del City.
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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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Records through March 15.