Chelsea Gray (right) has helped St. Mary's to No. 5
Some state playoffs have begun, but startup dates are staggered across the nation – a few champions will be crowned this month, while others won’t be determined until late March.
And the process is different, too. In some states, two teams from a region (or district or section) will move on to the next level of competition, which means the loser of the regional championship game lives to play another day. In other states, it’s one-and-done.
As with all tournaments and playoffs, there is certainly no guarantee that the best team will win. It is certain that a good team will, but a couple bad breaks (injuries, say), a bad call here or there (just ask Rutgers), or that banked-in three at the buzzer, and the favorite is history.
Of course, that’s what makes it so much fun.
1. Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco, Calif.) 23-0 (1): The Irish will start league playoffs this week before beginning California’s long postseason process. With more than 1,200 teams, it takes a while to whittle down the field.
FCP Top 25
|1. Sacred Heart (CA)|
|2. Long Beach Poly (CA)|
|3. Notre Dame Academy (VA)|
|4. Murry Bergtraum (NY)|
|5. St. Mary’s (CA)|
|6. Highlands Ranch (CO)|
|7. Ben Davis (IN)|
|8. Centennial (MN)|
|9. Hinsdale Central (IL)|
|10. Sapulpa (OK)|
|11. DeSoto (TX)|
|12. Dunbar (KY)|
|13. Lakota West (OH)|
|14. Archbishop Wood (PA)|
|15. Bellaire (TX)|
|16. Hope (IL)|
|17. Heritage Christian (IN)|
|18. Oak Ridge (TN)|
|19. Buffalo Grove (IL)|
|20. Gentry (MS)|
|21. Seton Keough (MD)|
|22. Bob Jones (AL)|
|23. Hillsboro (TN)|
|24. Lexington Catholic (KY)|
|25. Washington (IN)|
2. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) 21-2 (2): The Jackrabbits too are in postseason, and they must win five games to win the Southern Section – and then must win three more in the Southern California playoffs to get to the state championship game. It all starts Saturday.
3. Notre Dame Academy (Middleburg, Va.) 22-2 (3): Another potential hero tried to slay the Dragons, but like so many challengers before, H.D. Woodson fell short. The 53-40 win at Woodson was the first home loss for the hosts in three years – next up, a trip to tough Bishop McNamara.
4. Murry Bergtraum (New York, N.Y). 19-0 (4): Unlike the three teams above them, the Blazers are a bit of a mystery. They haven’t traveled and their biggest win is over Woodson by eight, on a neutral court. Notre Dame Academy beat the same team by 13 on Woodson’s home court.
5. St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.) 26-0 (5): The Rams’ matchup with NorCal power Berkeley was derailed by insurance issues at an alternate site, so St. Mary’s had to settle for beating up two more league teams. Mercifully, the Tri-City League schedule ends this week.
6. Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 16-3 (6): After demolishing Regis Jesuit 74-49, the Falcons return to league play against two solid teams, Arapahoe and ThunderRidge (alma mater of Abby and Emily Waner). Still, they should continue to roll.
7. Ben Davis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 23-1 (7): Unlike the teams above them in the rankings, the Giants face a serious playoff opponent this weekend – in fact, North Central is the only team to have beaten Ben Davis this year, though the Giants also have a win over the 18-5 Panthers.
8. Centennial (Circle Pines, Minn.) 20-0 (8): The Cougars hammered Osseo 83-40 in Circle Pines in the first round of league play, but the Orioles have a proud history in Minnesota. The rematch at Osseo Friday will be a much tougher test than it appears on the surface.
9. Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Ill.) 28-1 (9): The balanced Red Devils won another easy one, and move into the 4A Regionals this week. Only the winner of the 32-team bracket moves on to the next round.
10. Sapulpa (Sapulpa, Okla.) 21-1 (10): The Chieftains finish up regular season play Friday, and then start Regional playoffs next week. They only need to beat Tahlequah, though, which has won four times all year, to advance to the next round.
11. DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) 33-1 (11): The Eagles open the playoffs against 12-14 South Grand Prairie, but either Flower Mound or Haltom City will be a tougher opponent in round two. And in Texas, there are no second chances – lose and it’s over.
12. Dunbar (Lexington, Ky.) 27-1 (12): The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 47-42 win over Lexington Christian and Chantelle Pressley scored her 1,000th career point. Kentucky’s playoffs begin next week.
13. Lakota West (West Chester, Ohio) 21-1 (13): The Firebirds, by virtue of being the top seed in the Southwest Ohio region, got to choose which bracket to play in – and, should they get by Turpin, will face Chaminade-Julienne instead of, say, Mount Notre Dame. We’ll see how that works out.
14. Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) 21-2 (14): There’s only game left in the regular season, and then the Vikings will head into the playoffs – where Archbishop Carroll and Cardinal O’Hara will lie in wait.
15. Bellaire (Bellaire, Texas) 35-1 (15): The Cardinals rolled over Houston Memorial in the first round of the Texas playoffs, but of the six remaining teams in their eight-team bracket, four have more than 20 wins. It’s not going to be an easy road.
16. Hope (Chicago, Ill.) 26-1 (16): The Mighty Eagles have won 22 straight, and should qualify for next week’s sectional finals. Because they’re 3A, they won’t face Buffalo Grove, Fenwick or Wheeling.
17. Heritage Christian (Indianapolis, Ind.) 23-2 (17): The Eagles could play twice on Saturday, at noon and 8 p.m., in the Indiana 2A playoffs. But if they do win both games, they’ll get a week off before the next round.
18. Oak Ridge (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) 24-1 (18): The Wildcats are treading water until the Tennessee playoffs begin late next week. Though there aren’t any spectacular wins on the resume, the only loss was against No. 13 Lakota West.
19. Buffalo Grove (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) 27-3 (NR): The Bison lost to No. 11 Hinsdale Central, but both their other defeats have been at the hands of Fenwick and Wheeling, which are a combined 51-8. And Buffalo Grove has also beaten both.
20. Gentry (Indianola, Miss.) 30-0 (20): The Rams were 40-0 last year, and with three senior starters, look ready to add another unbeaten season. The 4A playoffs start Thursday, and Gentry needs to win eight straight to complete another perfecto.
21. Seton Keough (Baltimore, Md.) 24-3 (21): Six-three junior Asya Bussie leads the way for the Gators, who have established themselves as the best team in the Baltimore area.
22. Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) 30-2 (22): After winning two games, the Patriots move into the sub-regionals, where they’ll face Buckhorn on Thursday. Sparkman, which has won 25 games, is also in the bracket, but Jones has beaten the Senators already this year.
23. Hillsboro (Hillsboro, Tenn.) 26-0 (23): The Burros have lots of talent, but aside from the trip to Mt. Juliet, haven’t played much of a schedule. We’ll see if that hurts in the playoffs.
24. Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Ky.) 23-4 (25): The Knights have the week off before finishing up the regular season against Assumption and Wayne County, two solid Kentucky teams.
25. Washington (South Bend, Ind.) (20-2) (NR): Washington, led by the electric Skylar Diggins, slides back into the rankings, with a potential matchup against Ben Davis down the road. The only losses are to Buffalo Grove and Lexington Catholic.