HomeTeam 25: Girls basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

Lakewood High School guard Toi Smith (24) looks to shoot the ball past Ponte Vedra High School guard Gillian Boss (15) during the first half of the Class 6A state semifinals. (Times)
Lakewood High School guard Toi Smith (24) looks to shoot the ball past Ponte Vedra High School guard Gillian Boss (15) during the first half of the Class 6A state semifinals. (Times)
Published December 4 2017

1. Lakewood (3-0)

This week: Monday vs. Dixie Hollins, Thursday at Gibbs, Saturday vs. Lakewood Ranch

The buzz: The Spartans are talented and got even better with the transfer of 6-foot-2 forward Macey Zeh Arndt (Seffner Christian). Senior forward Toi Smith, senior guard Paris Williams and junior guard Diana Rosenthal bring experience. Lakewood made it to the state final last year and is poised to do the same this season.

2. Seffner Christian (4-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg Catholic, Friday at Fort Myers, Saturday vs. Lehigh

The buzz: The Crusaders have two losses to well-respected teams. The schedule is difficult and it doesn't get any easier with the addition of Carrollwood Day to the district. Seniors Audra Leipold and Nykeria Reed and junior Brylee Bartram lead a guard-heavy lineup.

3. Clearwater (3-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Dixie Hollins, Wednesday at East Lake, Friday at Boca Ciega

The buzz: Allen Williams takes over as head coach and he has inherited a talented team. The Tornadoes have not been tested much but there are challenges awaiting. Carrie Lee is a top player who can score, but the Tornadoes also have depth.

4. Brooks DeBartolo (2-1)

This week: Monday vs. Superior Collegiate, Thursday at Carrollwood Day

The buzz: The Phoenix always plays a tough schedule and won 19 games last season. They already have a quality win over Carrollwood Day. Junior Constance Thomas is the top returning scorer with 13.4 points per game. Junior Maliyah Perry, sophomore Kayla Grant and freshman Triniti Youngblood are off to good starts.

5. River Ridge (3-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Anclote, Wednesday vs. Land O'Lakes

The buzz: The Royal Knights tied Anclote at the top of Class 6A, District 8 last season. Those two teams should be on top again. The Royal Knights get a little better with the addition of Ices Utteg, who averaged 15.8 points per game as a freshman at Fivay last season. Senior Jayde Doucette and junior Michi Corsini can also score.

6. Carrollwood Day (4-1)

This week: Tuesday at Calvary Christian, Thursday vs. Brooks DeBartolo, Friday at Crystal River

The buzz: The Patriots have moved up to Class 4A and likely will battle Seffner Christian for the top spot in the district. Down the road, state champion Miami Country Day could await. The group of five freshmen starters from last season are now sophomores. Weeyah McGill is a 6-foot-3 post player who clogs up the middle. Tiasia McMillan, CC Mays, Jaden Harris and Tarriyonna Gary round out the sophomore class.

7. Countryside (4-0)

This week: Tuesday at St. Petersburg, Wednesday vs. Dunedin, Friday vs. Seminole

The buzz: The Cougars could have a very good season. Senior November Morton is off to a good start with more than 20 points per game. Senior Zena Elias is also a capable scorer. With a solid team around them, the Cougars can light up the scoreboard.

8. Plant (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Leto, Wednesday vs. Freedom, Friday at Wiregrass Ranch

The buzz: The Panthers were 28-2 last season but had a senior-dominant team. Sydney Johnson and Honor Culpepper were contributors last year who will play a bigger role. Freshman Nyla Jean is a player to watch. Class 8A, District 8 is not easy with Freedom, Steinbrenner and Wiregrass Ranch among the top teams.

9. Weeki Wachee (4-0)

This week: Tuesday at Crystal River, Wednesday vs. Bishop McLaughlin, Friday vs. Central

The buzz: The Hornets already have some quality wins, including PHU, Springstead and Nature Coast. This team won 21 games last season and most key players are back, including Seytia Hill and Shayleese Vazquez.

10. Alonso (3-0)

This week: Tuesday at Chamberlain, Wednesday vs. Hillsborough, Friday vs. Riverview

The buzz: Senior forward Ariel Scott averaged more than 13 points per game for a team that won 21 games last season. Senior Jacquelyn LeVay has scored 13.3 ppg in three games so far. Senior Aliya Terry is also a double-digit scorer.

11. Tampa Catholic (4-1)

This week: Tuesday at Cypress Creek, Wednesday vs. Bartow, Friday at Academy of the Holy Names

The buzz: The lone loss was a close one to Jacksonville Sandalwood. The other games have been blowouts. Senior Ashley Sieper, junior Lenise Santiago and Tanyia Gordon have so far picked up the scoring load from the graduated Alise Davis.

12. Steinbrenner (3-0)

This week: Tuesday at Wiregrass Ranch, Wednesday vs. Gaither, Friday vs. Freedom

The buzz: The Warriors are off and running, but this week will be a good early-season test. Junior Sara O'Brien leads the team with 14.4 points per game. Senior Ashleigh Ingram (12.4 ppg) and junior Julia Madore (11 ppg) are also double-digit scorers after three games.

13. Mitchell (2-0)

This week: Monday at Zephyrhills, Wednesday at Pasco, Friday vs. Springstead

The buzz: The Mustangs, who won 19 games last season, have notched wins over Wiregrass Ranch and Palmetto so far. Hannah Bassett, Katie Cox and Selena Dinovo have been players to stop early on.

14. Academy of the Holy Names (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at Clearwater Central Catholic, Friday vs. Tampa Catholic

The buzz: The Jaguars appear to have a well-rounded team led by three seniors, Lindsey Perez, Katherine Hahn and Mickey Carney. They are off to a good start, with the lone loss coming on Saturday at Orlando First Academy.

15. Hernando (3-0)

This week: Wednesday at Anclote

The buzz: If the first two games are any indication, opponents must stop junior Nakalya Roberts, who has 29.5 points per game. The Leopards were third in the district behind Crystal River and Weeki Wachee last season and they will have to work hard to break into the top two.

16. Robinson (1-1)

This week: Tuesday at Hillsborough, Wednesday vs. Blake

The buzz: The Knights won 23 games last season and lost in the playoffs to a good Lakewood team. Kaliah Henderson can take over a game on her own. Christiana Rolack also averaged double figures last season.

17. Durant (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. East Bay, Wednesday at Newsome, Friday vs. Strawberry Crest

The buzz: This team won 19 games last season and was second in the district behind Strawberry Crest. This season has just as much promise. Freshman Kirsten Grindel appears to be a good addition after averaging 20.5 points in the first two games. Senior Anna Smearman is also a player to stop.

18. Sunlake (2-1)

This week: Wednesday vs. Gulf

The buzz: The Seahawks finished second behind Mitchell in Class 7A, District 8 last season and that could be the case again this year. Senior forward Andrea Wallace and senior guard Elizabeth Moran are key returners.

19.  St. Petersburg (1-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Countryside, Thursday at Pinellas Park, Friday at Northeast

The buzz: The Green Devils dropped a close one to Manatee, which is undefeated this season. Senior Kaziyah Thomas should be the main scorer, but there is enough depth to make a run for a region tournament spot.

20. Anclote (2-1)

This week: Tuesday at River Ridge, Wednesday vs. Hernando, Friday vs. Hudson

The buzz: The Sharks opened the season with a loss to Fivay but finished the week with two straight wins. As expected Lyndsey McWhorter is the leading scorer with 21 points per game.

21. Tampa Bay Tech (3-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Strawberry Crest, Wednesday at Bloomingdale, Friday vs. Middleton

The buzz: The Titans are off to a good start, with the lone loss to Plant. This week begins with two district games. TBT was fourth in the district last season but has a shot at landing in the top two this year.

22. Springstead (2-2)

This week: Monday vs. Ridgewood, Friday at Mitchell

The buzz: Senior guard Reagan Huden surpassed 1,000 career points in the opener against Hudson. Junior center Yhanni Batts also provides scoring inside. They will likely have to compete with Sunlake for the top spot on Class 7A, District 8.

23. Tampa Prep (2-1)

This week: Monday vs. Lakeland Christian, Tuesday vs. Cambridge Christian, Friday at Northside Christian

The buzz: The Terrapins have a talented team returning, but they are in a tough district with Seffner Christian and Carrollwood Day. Payton Hendrix, Jaylen Williams and Abby Hunter are the key returners.

24. Bishop McLaughlin (2-2)

This week: Today vs. Winter Haven All Saints, Wednesday at Weeki Wachee, Friday at Keswick Christian

The buzz: The Hurricanes will be the favorites in Class 3A, District 4 again this season. Senior Olivia Downing is the top returner. The question mark will be which young players step up.

25. Plant City (2-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Bloomingdale, Wednesday at East Bay, Friday vs. Lennard

The buzz: The lone loss was a season-opener to Steinbrenner. Senior MacKenzie Steele is off to an amazing start, with 37 points per game. They were 3-17 last season, but if the players around her step up the Raiders could be in for a good season.

On the bubble: Northeast, Keswick Christian, Strawberry Crest, Land O'Lakes, Fivay, Tarpon Springs, Calvary Christian, Gulf

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