HomeTeam 25: Girls basketball rankings
1. Calvary Christian (9-1)
This week: Saturday at Lakewood
Scoop: The Warriors had a big win over Seffner Christian last week. Calvary Christian has been very well balanced, with Carley and Savannah Plentovich providing good guard play, and Niaya White and Jenny Bollinger providing tough inside play. Saturday’s game at Lakewood will test that toughness.
2. Seffner Christian (9-1)
This week: Friday at Lakewood Ranch, Saturday vs. Mitchell
Scoop: Seffner Christian lost its first game of the season to Calvary Christian, but the Crusaders rebounded nicely, beating their next two opponents by 74 and 71 points. Four Crusaders are averaging double-digit points per game.
3. Lakewood (10-2)
This week: Thursday vs. Gibbs, Saturday vs. Calvary Christian
Scoop: The Spartans picked up a nice road district win over Bradenton Southeast, 56-50. After exams are over, Lakewood will get a big test vs.Calvary Christian. These are not traditional rivals, but it’s good to see one of Pinellas’ best public schools take on Pinellas’ best private school.
4. Clearwater (10-1)
This week: Friday at Indian Rocks Christian
Scoop: The Tornadoes are coming off a 3-0 week in which they were challenged by Countryside before pulling out a four point win. Friday will not be easy either. Indian Rocks Christian is much improved and is sure to test the Clearwater fast break.
5. Academy at the Lakes (8-2)
This week: No games scheduled
Scoop: The Wildcats get a break this week. Audra Leipold (24.5 ppg, 5.9 assists) and Imani Thomas (114 rebounds in nine games) are as good as expected. Lauren Wells and Lulu Santiago are also off to good starts.
6. Wiregrass Ranch (9-1)
This week: Tuesday at Wharton, Wednesday vs. Leto, Thursday at Zephyrhills, Friday at Gaither
Scoop: The Bulls have won nine straight. They have a crammed week, with four games in four days. None of the four appear to be overtaxing, but it will test their stamina.
7. Strawberry Crest (12-0)
This week: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Tech, Wednesday vs. Lennard, Friday at Durant
Scoop: Led by the Matthews twins, the Chargers are the only undefeated team left in Hillsborough County. They played their toughest opponent yet last weekend in the Winter Slam Tournament, beating Palm Harbor University 58-50
8. Plant (10-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Gaither, Wednesday at Wharton
Scoop: Behind solid 3-point shooting, the Panthers earned a nice win against district foe Freedom before falling to PHU in the Winter Slam Tournament. A variety of scoring threats have helped Plant, and three different Panthers led the team in scoring during Plant’s five games last week.
9. Palm Harbor University (12-2)
This week: Friday vs. St. Petersburg
Scoop: The Hurricanes got a big win over Plant, but the next day they lost to Strawberry Crest. St. Petersburg is a district rival, and PHU probably can’t wait to get back on the court to erase the memory of the last game.
11. Brooks DeBartolo (9-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. IMG Academy, Wednesday vs. Weeki Wachee, Friday at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney
Scoop: A win against Holy Names put the Phoenix alone at the top of the 4A-9 standings. Don’Niya Brooks (13.1 points, 5.0 steals) and Alyssa Nieves (12.5 points, 3.8 steals) lead the team, but Courtney Hall and Alexis Allen led Brooks in its big game against the Jaguars, combining for 30 points.
10. Tampa Catholic (8-4)
This week: Friday vs. Berkeley Prep
Scoop: Since dropping back-to-back games against AHN and Brooks DeBartolo two weeks ago, the Crusaders have turned things around with a close win against Cardinal Mooney and a 74-33 rout of Clearwater Central Catholic. The Crusaders have a game against the Bucs this week before competing in a pair of holiday tournaments during the break.
12. Sickles (7-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner, Wednesday vs. Freedom, Friday at Leto
Scoop: The Gryphons have lost three of their past four games, but held their own in losses against Plant and Wiregrass Ranch. This week they’ll have the chance to improve their district record a little with games against Steinbrenner and Freedom.
13. Academy of the Holy Names (7-4)
This week: Thursday vs. Sarasota Military Academy
Scoop: The Jaguars had a tough slate against Academy at the Lakes and Brooks DeBartolo, and though the games were competitive, Holy Names lost both. They’ll have a chance to rebound in their annual holiday tournament, which will feature tough teams like AATL, Plant and Sickles.
14. Bishop McLaughlin (7-2)
This week: Monday vs. Lakeland Victory Christian, Thursday vs. Genesis Prep, Friday vs. Lakeland Santa Fe
Scoop: The Hurricanes have played well all season and will be tested this week. They have averaged 52 points per game and spread out their scoring. Four players have at least six points per game, led by Brielle Downing at 14.6.
15. Land O’Lakes (8-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Mitchell, Thursday vs. Wesley Chapel
Scoop: The Gators have two games this week, then take a week off for Christmas. Makala Canada and Gabby Mills continue to play well, but they are going to need scoring from other players once the season gets serious in January.
16. Freedom (4-5)
This week: Monday vs. Leto, Thursday at Sickles
Scoop: This year’s Freedom team is quite different from the Freedoms of old, but the Patriots have still shown promise with a 29-point victory against Steinbrenner. Makayla Gentry and Nari Garner have the potential to be big scoring threats, but other Patriots will have to step up if Freedom wants to stay in contention.
17. Steinbrenner (6-5)
This week: Tuesday at Sickles, Wednesday vs. Gaither
Scoop: The name of the game has always been defense for Steinbrenner, and only one opponent (Freedom) has broken 50 points this season. Still, the Warriors — who are led by Ashleigh Ingram’s 6.2 points per game — need a little more production on the offensive end to remain competitive.
18. Newsome (6-2)
This week: Monday vs. Plant City, Tuesday vs. Alonso, Friday at Robinson
Scoop: The Wolves haven’t played the toughest schedule around, but pretty soon they’ll truly be tested in the Academy at the Lakes Christmas Tournament.
19. Middleton (8-3)
This week: Monday at Tampa Bay Tech, Tuesday vs. Jefferson, Thursday vs. Armwood
Scoop: One thing the Tigers have excelled at this season is winning close games. Four of its victories have been decided by four points or fewer, including a 38-37 win against Alonso last week.
20. Indian Rocks Christian (8-2)
This week: Monday vs. Keswick Christian, Friday vs. Clearwater
Scoop: Nobody can accuse the Golden Eagles of playing a soft schedule. Last week they went to Countryside and won, then hosted Plant and lost. Now comes another tough game on Friday against Clearwater. Expect IRC to be ready to go in January.
21. Osceola (6-4)
This week: No games scheduled
Scoop: The Warriors bounced back from a tough three-point loss the Northeast by winning two straight. Now comes a big break for the holidays.
22. Durant (8-1)
This week: Monday vs. East Bay, Wednesday vs. Brandon, Friday vs. Strawberry Crest
Scoop: The Cougars have three players putting up double-digit points per game, and Durant’s only loss has come against undefeated Strawberry Crest. They’re sitting in a good spot at second place in the 7A-9 standings.
23. Cambridge Christian (8-3)
This week: Friday vs. Lakeside Christian
Scoop: Losses to Tampa Prep and Seffner Christian last week were not good for the Lancers’ district standing, but Cambridge will get lots of time to regroup before playing its next district game against the Terrapins on Jan. 14.
24. Springstead (8-2)
This week: Wednesday at Hudson, Thursday at Nature Coast
Scoop: Last week saw an impressive two-point win over Land O’Lakes followed by a 12-point loss at Mitchell. The Eagles should do well this week, which will give them momentum going into the new year.
25. Northeast (8-5)
This week: Friday vs. Keswick Christian, Saturday vs. St. Petersburg Catholic
Scoop: The Vikings had a five-game win streak snapped with a loss to Clearwater. They have two winnable games this week, followed by the Keswick Holiday tournament. Northeast appears to be healthy and could make a run in the district in January.
On the cusp: Mitchell (7-4), Countryside (7-5), Weeki Wachee (8-6), Boca Ciega (6-4), Armwood (5-3), Plant City (6-3), Anclote (8-2)