QUARTET: Four schools join the Blue Star Media Elite 25 girls’ rankings after several upsets; No. 24 Johnston runs table capped by Iowa Class 5A title - Bluestar Media (2023)

BENSALEM, Pa. – It was inevitable the Blue Star Media Elite 25 girls’ basketball rankings would receive a late season jolt.

Perhaps, that’s the beauty of March Madness regardless of the level of play or state. Take last week when four teams were dumped from the Elite 25 and others suffered season-ending losses but remained in the rankings for the time being.

A spot check of the Elite 25 features four additions, including two that re-enter, and two newbies from Iowa and Ohio. Welcome back No. 19 Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) and No. 25 Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.). LHP won the Florida Class 4A title for the third consecutive year. Defending champions Sacred Heart returns to the tradition-oozing Sweet Sixteen single-class state tournament this week in Lexington, Ky.

Meanwhile, No. 24 Johnston (Iowa) debuts after peeling off 26 straight victories, culminating with the Class 5A state title last week in Des Moines. The Dragons became the first 5A team to go unbeaten wire-to-wire since the classification was introduced in 2013. The Dragons put on a show last week at the Wells Fargo Arena, especially from beyond the arc, and drubbed Waterloo West by 20 points in the final.

No. 21 Mason (Ohio) stunned then-No. 7 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) in the Division I regional final, snapping a monstrous 98-game win streak. The Comets face Massillon Jackson Friday in the Division I semifinals at the University of Dayton Arena and with a win would play for the state championship on Saturday.

As for the Elite 25, the four additions were met with seven teams remaining static from a week ago; nine teams have won state or postseason tournament titles; this week nine schools could be crowned state champions by Saturday night; four teams slipped in the rankings with No. 22 Mount Notre Dame cratering 15 slots; and nine moved up with No. 12 Carondelet (Concord, Calif.) zooming up nine positions.

There’s more to come this weekend in California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Georgia and Kentucky. Minnesota and Missouri are on deck next week.

Elsewhere, the GEICO High School Nationals’ bracket will be released on March 15 or 16. The picture is clear that No. 5 New Hope Academy (Landover Hills, Md.), No. 17 Montverde (Fla.) Academy, No. 20 DME Sports Academy (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) will be selected. We’re hearing Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) might be added as a fifth team and would subjected to a play-in game. The tournament is slated for March 31-April 2 in Fort Myers, Fla.

The newly created GEICO State Champions Invitational will be played a week later in Florida with four teams that could include No. 3 Sidwell Friends (D.C.), No. 16 Woodward Academy (Ga.) and No. 19 Lake Highland Prep (Fla.). The fourth team would come from Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Georgia, Florida or Utah.

When the GEICO Nationals bracket is revealed, we’ll have it for you.

That’s it for the first week in March; let the madness of March begin!

The Blue Star Media Elite 25 girls’ rankings will return on March 16.

Please stay safe and get vaccinated. Remember to turn your clocks ahead this Saturday for Daylight’s Savings Time. Good luck filling out your brackets. Selection Sunday is nearly here with the men’s and women’s 68-team fields released in just a few days.

Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor

Blue Star Media Elite 25 Girls’ Basketball Rankings, March 9, 2022

1. Etiwanda, Calif. (29-0)

Previous rank: 1.

Low-down: The Lady Eagles advanced to the CIF-Southern Region Open Division final after defeating Corona Centennial, 69-51, in the semifinals. They had a showdown with No. 11 Sierra Canyon School (Chatsworth) Tuesday in the Southern Region final. The CIF Open Division championship game in the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday.

2. Incarnate Word Academy, Bel Nor, Mo. (26-0)

Previous: 2.

The Low-down: Won the Class 6, District 3 crown, beating Francis Howell Central (St. Charles), 79-32, in the final and Francis Howell (St. Charles), 71-36, in the semifinals. Up next is Troy Buchanan (Troy) in the Class 6 state quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. The Class 6 semifinals are March 17 and the final is March 18.

3. Sidwell Friends, Washington, D.C. (28-0)*

Previous: 3.

Low-down: Won the District of Columbia State Athletic Association Class AA tournament, pummeling Georgetown Visitation, 69-41, in the final and Maret School, 70-26, in the semifinals. UCLA-bound guard Kiki Rice produced 10 points and 10 assists and sophomore guard Leah Harmon added 24 points in the final. The Quakers can expect an invitation to the GEICO Nationals next month in Florida.

4. St. John Vianney, Holmdel, N.J. (28-1)

Previous: 4.

The Low-down: In the Non-Public A South semifinal, the Lady Lancers ghghgh Camden Catholic (Cherry Hill), 79-33. Madison St. Rose scored 19 point and cleared 13 rebounds.

In the quarterfinals, junior guard Zoe Brooks contributed 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in a 95-30 thrashing Immaculata (Somerville). The score was 37-6 after one quarter. Up next is the South A final against Paul VI (Haddonfield) on Wednesday. The state final is Saturday.

5. New Hope Academy, Landover Hills, Md. (26-2)*

Previous: 5.

The Low-down: Idle. The National Association of Christian Athletes Division 1 champions would be a great addition to the GEICO Nationals field.

6. DeSoto, Texas (35-2)*

Previous: 6.

The Low-down: Won a second consecutive UIL Class 6A state championship, pounding South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie), 40-23, in the final. Kansas-bound Ja’Mia Harris had 16 points and 5 rebounds and the Eagles limited their opponent to 24% (9-of-37) shooting. Jiya Perry, an SMU recruit, clicked for 15 points and 10 rebounds and Harris added 13 points to defeat San Antonio Clark, 56-47, in the semifinals. The Eagles were up 38-37 after three quarters but closed with an 18-10 run. Season complete.

7. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Minn. (22-1)

Previous: 8.

The Low-down: Defeated Robbinsdale Armstrong, 78-45, in the Class 4A, Section 6 semifinals and South (Minneapolis), 79-12, in the quarterfinals. The Royals were up 60-5 at halftime. Taylor Woodson netted 21 points. The Royals meet rival Wayzata (Plymouth) Thursday in the sectional final.

8. Cedar Park, Texas (39-0)*

Previous: 9.

Low-down: Won a second straight UIL Class 5A state championship, beating Frisco Memorial, 45-40, in the final. Sophomore guard Gisella Maul posted a double-double with 27 points and 19 rebounds. Junior center Shelby Hayes added 12 points and 7 rebounds. In the semifinals, the Lady Timberwolves stopped College Station, 59-31. Hayes (22 points) and Maul combined to score 36 points and cleared 20 rebounds. Season complete.

9. Hazel Green, Ala. (35-0)*

Previous: 13.

Low-down: The Lady Trojans make it five consecutive state championships after dispatching Oxford, 55-38, in the Class 6A final. Senior Samiya Steele, who was named the Most Valuable Player, scored 16 points and sophomore Leah Brooks had a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In the semifinals, the Lady Trojans cruised past Park Crossing (Montgomery), 74-54, as Steele posted a game-high 30 points and added 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Season complete.

10. Classen SAS, Oklahoma City (21-1)

Previous: 10.

Low-down: The Lady Comets advanced to the Class 4A state tournament after defeating Muldrow, 58-24, in the Area final. They also stopped Byng, 63-18, in the Region C Winner Bracket. The states opened Tuesday against Blanchard in the quarterfinals. The semifinals are Friday and championship game is Saturday.

11. Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, Calif. (28-2)

Previous: 12.

Low-down: Junior Juju Watkins scored 23 points and the Blazers upended then-No. 11 La Jolla Country Day, 63-62, in the CIF-Southern Region Open Division semifinals. Watkins had a monster game with 37 points and 15 rebounds as the Blazers clocked Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), 94-50, in the first round. They played top-ranked Etiwanda Tuesday in the Southern

12. Carondelet, Concord, Calif. (27-2)

Previous: 21.

Low-down: The Cougars pounded Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills), 63-42, in the CIF-Northern Region Open Division semifinals. They played No. 13 Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) Tuesday in the Northern Region final. The Open Division state final is Saturday in Sacramento.

13. Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, Calif. (29-1)

Previous: 14.

Low-down: The Monarchs ghghgh Clovis West (Fresno), 53-45, in the CIF-Northern Region Open Division semifinals. In the opening round, they beat San Ramon Valley (Danville), 74-36. Coach Sue Phillips’ team met No. 12 Carondelet (Concord) Tuesday in the Northern Regional final. The Open Division state final is slated for Saturday in Sacramento.

14. La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day (25-3)

Previous: 11.

The Low-down: Lost to then-No. 12 Sierra Canyon School (Chatsworth), 63-62, in the CIF-Southern Region Open Division semifinals. In the first round, they beat Mater Dei (Santa Ana), 53-45. Junior center Brea Cunningham had 20 points and 9 rebounds. Season complete.

15.Hoover, Ala. (34-3)*

Previous: 18.

Low-down: Won a second straight Class 7A state championship topping Vestavia Hills, 73-64, in the final. Reniya Kelly was named Most Valuable Player after scoring 26 points and had 9 rebounds, 4 assist and 3 steals. Aniya Hubbard added 25 points, making 4-of-5 3-pointers. Season complete.

16. Woodward Academy, College Park, Ga. (28-2)

Previous: 19.

Low-down: The War Eagles are one win away from repeating as champions in Class AAAAA after defeating Warner Robins, 67-35, in the semifinals and Jackson (Atlanta), 84-58, in the quarterfinals. They’ll meet Forest Park Thursday in the Class AAAAA final at the Macon Coliseum.

17. Montverde (Fla.) Academy (18-3)

Previous: 16.

The Low-down: Idle.

18. Stevenson, Lincolnshire, Ill. (36-2)*

Previous: 25.

Low-down: Won the Class 4A state championship, beating Barrington, 55-42, in the final. Pennsylvania-bound guard Simone Sawyer pumped in 26 points, making 11-of-17 shots, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Ava Bardic scored 13 points, sinking three 3-pointers. In the semifinals, they held off Benet Academy (Lisle), 36-28, as Bardic tallied 16 points and Emory Klatt added 10. Season complete.

19. Lake Highland Prep, Orlando, Fla. (25-4)*

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: Won third consecutive FHSAA Class 4A championship, trouncing Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale), 75-57. Nyla Harris produced a sensational 26-point, 21-rebound outing in her final game. Regular season is complete.

20. DME Sports Academy, Daytona Beach, Fla. (23-3)

Previous: 24.

Low-down: Idle.

21. Mason, Ohio (26-2)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: Upset then-No. 7 Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati) in the Division I regional final. Kyla Oldacre’s 21 points and 10 rebounds topped the Comets and Madison Parrish netted 12 points. Up next is Massillon Jackson Friday in the Division I state semifinals at University of Dayton Arena. The final is Saturday.

22. Mount Notre Dame, Cincinnati (26-1) #

Previous: 7.

The Low-down: Lost to Mason (Cincinnati), 43-41, in the Division I regional final. The Cougars had their win streak snapped at 98 straight games. Season complete.

23. Duncanville, Texas (34-7)

Previous: 22.

Low-down: Season complete.

24. Johnston, Iowa (26-0)*

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: Won Class 5A state championship, crushing Waterloo West, 51-31. The Dragons completed the first unbeaten season since the classification was added in 2013. Anna Gossling scored 13 points and was named the All-Tournament team captain. Season complete.

25. Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, Ky. (32-3)

Previous: Not ranked.

Low-down: The Valkyries re-enter the Elite 25 after capturing the 7th Region championship over Du Pont Manual (Louisville), 64-56. Up next is Anderson County (Lawrenceburg) at the Mingua Beef Jerky Sweet Sixteen Tournament Thursday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Dropped: No. 15 Archbishop Hoban (Akron, Ohio); No. 17 Holy Innocents’ Episcopal (Atlanta) No. 20 Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) and No. 23 Nazareth Academy (La Grange Park, Ill.).

High-Fives by Region


  1. Westtown School, West Chester, Pa. (23-4)**
  2. Rutgers Prep, Somerset, N.J. (25-2)
  3. Mount Lebanon, Pittsburgh (23-1)
  4. Plymouth Whitemarsh, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. (26-0)
  5. Cardinal O’Hara, Springfield, Pa. (11-15)* %

Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.


  1. South Bend (Ind.) Washington (27-3)*
  2. Noblesville, Ind. (25-4)*
  3. Millard South, Omaha, Neb. (26-0)
  4. Carmel, Mundelein, Ill. (28-7)*
  5. Archbishop Alter, Kettering, Ohio (26-1)

Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


  1. Neshoba Central, Philadelphia, Miss. (33-0)*
  2. Blackman, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (26-1)
  3. Ponchatoula, La. (35-2)*
  4. Brownsboro, Texas (40-2)*
  5. The Webb School, Bell Buckle, Tenn. (30-6)*

Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Far West

  1. Corona (Calif.) Centennial (26-7)
  2. Lone Peak, Highland, Utah (23-0)*
  3. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (23-6)
  4. Beaverton, Ore. (23-1)….M10-11-12
  5. Woodinville, Wash. (26-1)*

Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Records through Monday’s games

* Won state, national or recognized conference/league postseason tournament championship [Note: Multiple asterisks indicate a school has won at least two postseason titles]

# Includes a forfeit win

% Includes forfeits for use of ineligible player

About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Girls’ Basketball Rankings are released weekly from November until the conclusion of the high school season. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition, and quality of the team’s league, conference, region or district. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released at the conclusion of the season in April. Follow him on Twitter at @clawlor.

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