And they're not the best girl's high-school team in the country.
"I just told my girls that we have played much better teams," coach Frank Oliver said after his Washington, D.C., team, H.D. Woodson, a Washington, D.C., lost by just eight points, 77-69, to Bergtraum at John F. Kennedy High School on Sunday. "We had our opportunities."
Woodson played in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in December, when it was steamrolled, 69-42, by a Long Beach team whose stars, Jasmine Dixon and Monique Oliver, then were laboring with the flu. Oliver said Poly, ranked No. 2 by Full Court Press, No. 4 by USA Today and No. 7 by ESPN, was "much tougher" than Bergtraum, which is 15-0.
Bergtraum's roster of opponents may be marked this season by a littany of "had our opportunities," but all share one trait - they are based within a couple hours of New York City. To some, this does not constitute a national- championship worthy schedule.
Bergtraum's Shakeya Leary powers off
Apache Paschall, whose New York-based St. Michael Academy upset nationally ranked Malcolm X Shabazz of Newark, N.J., at the Kennedy Classic on Sunday (see below), suggested that Grezinsky stacks a schedule against teams he knows Bergtraum can beat. "They don't play anybody," said Paschall, who also coaches a nationally prominent club team called Exodus. "If they went to the Nike TOC, they wouldn't have been undefeated. They don't have the size to play with teams like Poly and Notre Dame Academy."
Notre Dame Academy, located in Middleburg, Va., was a consensus, preseason No. 1 choice, but lost the TOC championship game to Poly and then shortly afterward lost to Archibishop Carroll of Radnor, Pa.
Grezinsky said his team was entered in a national-level tournament this season in Washington, D.C., that suddenly was cancelled. He also pointed out the expense of traveling, that much of his team's funds "comeout my own pockets."
"I emphasize the city, and then state," Grezinsky said. "The other is all hypothetical."
Grezinsky coached truly great teams in 2003 and 2004. The 2003 team, which he calls "my best team ever," had Prince, now at Rutgers, and Shannon Bobbitt, now at Tennesee, coming off the bench. It won the Nike TOC, finished 30-0 but was ranked only third in the USA Today Super 25 that year. His 2004 team, led by Bobbitt, Prince and Erica Morrow, now at Syracuse, finished 30-1, losing only to Long Beach Poly, and was ranked No. 1.
The current edition of the aptly named Lady Blazers revolves around Syracuse-bound Shakeya Leary, ranked 54th in the HoopGurlz Hundred for 2008, and Krystal "Grandma" Parnell, a scintillating, 5-foot-5 point guard ranked 77th in 2008 by HoopGurlz.com. Sophomores Doris Ortega, 5-10, and Cee Cee Dixon, the 5-3 sister of Connecticut freshman Lorin, are budding stars. While 6-3, Leary, like most of her teammates, is very good on the attack off the dribble, but not a dominant scorer or defender on the boxes.
"They are not the Bergtraum of old," said Paschall, who coached Leary and Parnell at Exodus. "They don't have that one player who is going to dominate. I think they're still trying to find their identity."
As a team, maybe. As a powerhouse?
"I don't think they are the No. 1 team in the country," Crosby said, "but they do have that mentality because of their history."
St. Michael Upsets Shabazz
Jennifer O'Neil on the attack for
The game was the nightcap and most thrilling contest of the talent-laden Kennedy Classic, held at John F. Kennedy, a public high school in the Bronx.
Ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation by ESPN, Shabazz also was ranked No. 16 by Full Court Press and No. 21 by USA Today.
St. Michael was without Georgetown-bound forward, Alex Roche, the No. 47 prospect in the HoopGurlz Hundred who suffered an anterior-cruciate ligament tear in December.
Seniors Ebony Wilson and Kajunia Walker, and sophomore Desiree Simmons, sparked a furious, second-half rally for Shabazz, while trailed by nine at halftime and three at the end of three quarters. After O'Neil hit a spinning shot in the lane to put St. Michael ahead by two with 26.3 left in regulation, Walker drilled a 10-footer following an offensive rebound with 3.3 second remaining to send the game into overtime.