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High school softball: Neshoba Central on the rise in this week's HIGHSCORE Top 25 rankings - HIGHSCORE
High school softball: Neshoba Central on the rise in this week's MaxPreps Top 25 rankings
The Class 7A bracket in Florida is arguably the toughest road to a high school softball state title. Four teams in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school softball rankings are in the 7A tournament and play in this week's Regional Semifinals this week.

On Tuesday, third-ranked Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.) meets No. 11 Newsome (Lithia, Fla.) for the second time in 13 days. This one is win-or-go-home. In Round One, it was a pair of sophomores for the Mustangs that helped lift Lakewood Ranch to a 2-0 victory. Amanda Lee knocked in two runs and Olivia Laney pitched a complete-game six hitter. The winner plays Friday in the Regional Finals.

Neshoba Central (Philadelphia, Miss.) continues to climb up the rankings. The Rockets are 29-0 and play for a Mississippi 5A state title starting Wednesday. They have won 46 straight games.
Ella Coiner, Lakewood Ranch
Photo by Stacy White
Ella Coiner, Lakewood Ranch
MaxPreps Top 25 high school softball rankings

1. Leander (Texas)
32-0 | Last week: 1
Isabella Ruff and Marley Neises each had three hits in a 15-1 win over Southwest. The Lions take on Medina Valley in the Regional Quarterfinals starting Friday.

2. Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas)
33-2 | Last week: 2
The Eagles advanced and play Friendswood. These two met in early February — a 3-1 Barbers Hill win.

3. Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.)
26-2 | Last week: 3
Taylor Shephard and Ella Coiner each had a home run in the Mustangs 15-8 playoff win over Steinbrenner.

4. Park Vista (Lake Worth, Fla.)
26-0 | Last week: 4
Sophomore Chloe Fariello pitched a complete game in a 3-0 win over Jupiter.

5. Marist (Chicago)
20-0 | Last week: 5
In 20 games, the RedHawks have scored 199 runs and allowed 14.

6. Norco (Calif.)
15-1 | Last week: 6
The Cougars have won 14 straight.

7. Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.)
43-2-1 | Last week: 7
Anyce Harvey and Hannah Dorsett combined for nine hits as the Huskies defeated Vestavia 21-6 in the 7A Area 6 championship game.

8. Lake Creek (Montgomery, Texas)
36-0 | Last week: 9
The Lions combined for 33 hits and 28 runs in two Area play games last week.

9. University (Orange City, Fla.)
23-0 | Last week: 10
Sophomore Annalyn Duncan had three hits as the Titans advanced to the 7A Regional Semifinals.

10. Neshoba Central (Philadelphia, Miss.)
29-0 | Last week: 11
The seven-time defending Class 5A champs will play East Central.

11. Newsome (Lithia, Fla.)
25-1 | Last week: 12
Freshman Karley Shelton homered and doubled as the Wolves came from behind to beat Palm Harbor University 7-6.

12. Spring-Ford (Royersford, Pa.)
14-0 | Last week: 13
Have outscored opponents 122-7.

13. Doral Academy (Doral, Fla.)
25-2 | Last week: 14
Since playoffs have begun, the Firebirds have outscored their first three opponents 47-0.

14. Judson (Converse, Texas)
29-1 | Last week: 16
The Rockets have now won 25 straight dating back to late February.

15. Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista, Calif.)
15-0 | Last week: 17
Gisselle Garcia knocked in the lone run in the 10th inning to beat Otay Ranch 1-0. She also pitched a complete game.

16. Williamsburg (Ohio)
22-0 | Last week: 18
Morehead State commit Madi Ogden has now struck out 273 batters in 113 innings pitched.

17. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
31-2 | Last week: 19
Louisiana 5A state champion. Season over.

18. Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.)
21-0 | Last week: 20
Lancers advanced to the second round of the 4A playoffs after an 11-0 win over Apache Junction.

19. Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.)
29-3 | Last week: 21
The Patriots will play Hunstville on Friday in North Regional playoff action.

20. Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.)
15-0 | Last week: 22
Jessica Oakland hit two home runs on Friday. The Minnesota commit now has 11 on the season.

21. Villa Park (Calif.)
15-1 | Last week: 23
The Spartans went 2-0 last week.

22. South Gibson (Medina, Tenn.)
29-1 | Last week: 24
Erica Carpenter threw a complete game in a 4-1 win to start postseason play.

23. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
12-1 | Last week: 25
The lone loss on the season was to Newbury Park in late April. On Monday, the Warriors got revenge winning 14-1.

24. Lake Central (St. John, Ind.)
19-1 | Last week: 15
The Indians lost to Crown Point on Wednesday. The two have now split the series.

25. Rocklin (Calif.)
14-1 | Last week: NR
UCLA commit Jayla Castro has five home runs and is batting .542. The Thunder have five games remaining.

On the bubble: Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Crown Point (Ind.), Mahopac (N.Y.), Benson (Ariz.), Clear Springs (League City, Texas)
High school basketball: No. 1 girls prospect Azzi Fudd commits to UConn - HIGHSCORE
High school basketball: No. 1 girls prospect Azzi Fudd commits to UConn
St. John's (Washington, D.C.) high school basketball star Azzi Fudd, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Hoopgurlz/espnW Top 100, has signed with UConn. The senior guard announced her commitment to the program Wednesday morning – the first day of the national signing period – and the Huskies made it official with a social media post a short while after.

"They make good players great," Fudd said of her college choice. "I realized that to reach my goals and be the player I was trying to be, UConn was the place."
The 5-foot-11 Fudd was the first sophomore to be named the MaxPreps Player of the Year in 2019, averaging 26.3 points per game in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

Her junior season wasn't quite the follow-up she was hoping for as she recovered from a torn ACL. Fudd did return to the court, but wasn't fully healthy until late in the year when she once again began to dominate.

Fudd is much more than just a scorer. Her high school coach, Jonathan Scribner, has described her as "a silent assassin. She's not demonstrative – she just methodically destroys you."

He also feels she's an exceptional defense player, but don't think it's a coach overrating his own player – college coaches and rating services have raved about her talent since she was in middle school.

Fudd chose UConn over UCLA in what she described as a back and forth process.

"I do not like to make decisions, so I kind of elongated the process," Fudd said. "Finally I sat down and made a list of pros and cons for UCLA and UConn – and UConn was the winner."

When she arrives in Storrs next fall, she will join a young UConn team (six players are freshmen this season and there are no seniors on the roster), but is still expected to have an immediate impact on one of the best teams in the country.
Azzi Fudd in action against Sidwell Friends last March.
Photo by Phil Peters
Azzi Fudd in action against Sidwell Friends last March.
High school girls basketball rankings: Bearden, Minnetonka earn spots in HIGHSCORE Top 25 as postseason looms for much of the country - HIGHSCORE
High school girls basketball rankings: Bearden, Minnetonka earn spots in MaxPreps Top 25 as postseason looms for much of the country
Even in the best of times, high school basketball is wildly unpredictable. Teenage problems, high school drama and the ups and downs of adolescent life create oceans of uncertainty when it comes to figuring out how well a team might play on a given night.

This year, COVID-19 has kicked that baked-in unpredictability to new heights, especially when it comes to the MaxPreps Top 25. For example, No. 1 Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) and No. 2 Westlake (Atlanta) were scheduled to play a game — but it was canceled. And with it was the on-the-court decider for the top spot. This week, No. 8 Norman (Okla.) was supposed to play Classen SAS (Oklahoma City), which had knocked off No. 13 DeSoto (Texas) earlier this season — but that game has been called off.

And now, as we move into postseason in many states (some of which will allow fans for the games), we can only expect more of the same. Some seasons will likely end with a COVID cancellation in the playoffs, maybe even a forfeit. Others may find themselves without key players or head coaches down the stretch thanks to contact tracing or test results.

The bottom line? What is usually a crazy sport will be crazier than ever in 2021, and anyone who has any confidence in any predictions just isn't paying attention. And though rankings are fun and state titles are impressive achievements, the most important result this year is that everyone involved with all these teams makes it through the season in good health.

This year, that's a championship worth playing for.

NOTE: We encourage all girls basketball teams to update schedules and results on MaxPreps – especially those in the mix for MaxPreps Top 25 consideration. For assistance or questions, please reach out to [email protected]
Through three games, junior star Jennah Isai of No. 18 Valley Vista (Surprise, Ariz.) is averaging 18.0 points, 5.7 steals and 5.3 rebounds per outing.
Photo by Chris Stanley
Through three games, junior star Jennah Isai of No. 18 Valley Vista (Surprise, Ariz.) is averaging 18.0 points, 5.7 steals and 5.3 rebounds per outing.
MaxPreps Top 25 Girls Basketball Rankings

1. Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.)
Record: 14-0 | Last week: 1
The Highlanders start the 4A Region 2 playoffs Thursday and 19-4 Wesley Chapel is the likely second-round opponent. Ribault and American Heritage, which will be the biggest tests, are a ways down the road.

2. Westlake (Atlanta)
Record: 15-0 | Last week: 2
Westlake has some time off to prepare for the AAAAAA playoffs as the first game isn't until Feb. 23 at the earliest. At some point, though, expect a matchup with unbeaten Buford.

3. Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati)
Record: 20-0 | Last week: 3
The Cougars finished the regular season with a convincing 67-39 win over a solid Notre Dame Academy team and move on to the Division 1 Princeton 2 playoffs Saturday against 32nd seed Middletown.

4. Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
Record: 6-0 | Last week: 4
The Royals should have smooth sailing until Feb. 18, when the bus will load up for a crosstown game at rival and new No. 25 Minnetonka — which came within one point of knocking off the nation's No. 4 team the first time around.

5. Edison Academy (Detroit)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 5
We're pretty sure the Pioneers will finally begin their season Feb. 10 against Cornerstone Health & Tech but Michigan's rollout of winter sports hasn't been all that smooth. Maybe this time.

6. Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis)
Record: 16-0 | Last week: 6
The toughest regular season game remaining for the Red Knights appears to be Burroughs on Feb. 24, but even then, the chances of an upset are remote. Postseason, however, will present more of a challenge.

7. Cypress Creek (Houston)
Record: 26-0 | Last week: 7
The Cougars have rampaged through the Houston area so far. That pattern of domination is likely to continue through the first two games in the 6A Region 3 playoffs. But No. 13 DeSoto or perennial power Duncanville will likely show up eventually, and that will be a different story.

8. Norman (Okla.)
Record: 12-0 | Last week: 8
There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Thursday's game vs. Classen SAS but unfortunately it was canceled, meaning the biggest challenge left before postseason will be a Feb. 19 trip to Edmond Memorial.

9. St. John-Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 9
It took a long time for New Jersey to get going, but it didn't take long for a big game to show up on the schedule: The Lancers against unbeaten Saddle River Day on Saturday. Luckily for the No. 9 team, it's in the friendly confines.

10. Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)
Record: 9-0 | Last week: 12
Do the Panthers really deserve a top 10 ranking? If Virginia's best can beat talent-laden Bishop McNamara at home Saturday, there will be no doubt.

11. Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Record: 19-1 | Last week: 12
The Eagles' season is complete unless an invite to the GEICO Nationals is forthcoming — and that assumes that the event is even played this year.

12. North Central (Indianapolis)
Record: 24-2 | Last week: 14
The 4A playoffs begin Saturday and the Panthers could potentially play two games in one day. The second could be against 20-4 Roncalli. Down the road, Bedford North Lawrence, which has a win over North Central, could make an appearance.

13. DeSoto (Texas)
Record: 20-2 | Last week: 13
To avoid a repeat of fights that have marred a couple of Eagle games, the DeSoto administration chose to forfeit the game against Cedar Hill last week.

14. Newark (Ohio)
Record: 19-1 | Last week: 16
The Wildcats wind up the regular season Friday, and will begin the Division 1 Central 4 playoffs Feb. 16 versus Mifflin. There are a lot of games in the Ohio postseason, and a lot of good teams, so there's no guarantee that Newark and No. 3 Mount Notre Dame will meet but it would be fun.

15. Fremont (Plain City, Utah)
Record: 18-0 | Last week: 15
The Silverwolves host 15-2 Syracuse on Friday in what should be the last test before the Utah 6A playoffs begin — but even then, Fremont is the heavy favorite to run the table.

16. Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
Record: 2-0 | Last week: 18
The Vikings got a late start but are making up for lost time. There are three games in the next seven days, culminating with a Tuesday matchup against longtime rival and perennial power Cardinal O'Hara.

17. Grandview (Aurora, Colo.)
Record: 4-0 | Last week: 17
The Wolves will get their first test Friday traveling to unbeaten Arapahoe. The toughest tests, though, likely won't come until postseason.

18. Valley Vista (Surprise, Ariz.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 20
The Monsoon travel to 6-1 Hamilton on Friday, and though that spacious gym won't be unfamiliar, it's still a tough place to play.

19. Rutgers Prep (Somerset, N.J.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 19
Setting up games has been a challenge for a lot of teams this year, and the Argonauts are no exception — which is why the schedule is more likely to resemble a walk in the park than a walk on the wild side.

20. Anderson County (Lawrenceburg, Ky.)
Record: 13-0 | Last week: 22
The Bearcats slipped past Bethlehem 57-56 last week to stay in the MaxPreps Top 25 — but with unbeaten Elizabethtown and talented Sacred Heart back-to-back next week, the ranking is definitely in peril.

21. Hazel Green (Ala.)
Record: 29-1 | Last week: 21
The Trojans are ready to start the 6A playoffs, and won't face 7A Hoover again, as the schools are in different divisions. And Hazel Green has already beaten the second- and third-ranked 6A teams handily, so it could be a relatively easy ride the rest of the way.

22. Ponchatoula (La.)
Record: 26-0 | Last week: 23
The Bayou State's best beat Mt. Carmel, the second-ranked 5A team, by 21 on Monday. The Green Wave have two games remaining in the regular season before the playoffs begin Feb. 18.

23. Upperman (Baxter, Tenn.)
Record: 25-0 | Last week: 25
The regular season is over, and the Division II playoffs won't start until Feb. 20, so the Bees will have plenty of time to get busy on the practice floor.

24. Bearden (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Record: 19-1 | Last week: NR
The Bulldogs jump into the rankings thanks to a 47-39 win over previous No. 10 Ensworth. This offsets an early season loss to Alcoa, which has won 13 of its last 16 games. A trip to 24-2 Grainger is on the docket Saturday.

25. Minnetonka (Minn.)
Record: 7-1 | Last week: NR
It's rare that a team gets into the MaxPreps Top 25 thanks to a loss, but the Skippers' ability to come within one point of No. 4 Hopkins got them a bid. That said, unbeaten Chaska is Friday's opponent, so the celebration could be short.

Dropped out: No. 10 Ensworth (Tenn.), No. 24 Johnston (Iowa)
Madison St. Rose named 2020-21 HIGHSCORE New Jersey High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year - HIGHSCORE
Madison St. Rose named 2020-21 MaxPreps New Jersey High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Madison St. Rose of St. John-Vianney (Holmdel) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps New Jersey High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The 5-foot-10 junior led the perennial power to a 14-0 record in an abbreviated season and the No. 9 ranking in the MaxPreps Top 25.

Despite there being no postseason, St. John-Vianney scheduled and defeated three of the top teams in the state: Trenton Catholic, Red Bank Catholic and Saddle River Day.

St. Rose averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. Though she's only a junior, the No. 46 player in the ESPN Hoopgurlz 2022 rankings has already committed to Princeton.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team.
High school girls basketball: GEICO Nationals schedule, preview - HIGHSCORE
High school girls basketball: GEICO Nationals schedule, preview
Handpicking a field to decide a national championship always draws debate. But the selection of the 2021 GEICO Girls High School Nationals left little or no room for argument as the four ranked teams are 75-0.

The two-day event, in conjunction with the 10-team boys GEICO Nationals, begins Friday at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Ft. Myers, Fla. and features four of the top 11 teams in the MaxPreps Top 25, including No. 1 Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) and second-ranked Westlake (Atlanta).

Ninth-ranked Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.) and Utah 6A champion Fremont (Plain City), No. 11 in the country, round out the field, considered the best in the history of the year-end showcase. All four teams average better than 67 points per game, all allow less than 44, and each have won by average margins of more than 30 per contest.

All games will be nationally televised and all should be fiercely contested. Friday's semifinals pit Lake Highland Prep against Paul VI at 10:30 a.m. (ET), followed by Fremont and Westlake. The winners meet Saturday at 10.

"Simply put, the winner of the Saturday title game will assuredly be crowned the best team in the nation," MaxPreps girls basketball editor Clay Kallam wrote.

Here's a thumbnail view of each team, its top players and key statistics.
Fremont 6-5 sophomore Maggie Mandelson (44) averages 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Photo by Dave Argyle
Fremont 6-5 sophomore Maggie Mandelson (44) averages 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Lake Highland Prep (19-0)
Points per game: 67.4 | Points allowed: 33.2
Last played: Feb. 27, 84-30 win over Lincoln Park Academy (Fort Pierce) for Florida 4A state title
Key players: Kayla Blackshear (Alabama signee), Nyla Harris (Louisville commit), Stefanie Ingram (Central Florida commit)
Key stats/facts: Seven girls average between 7.4 and 12.1 (sophomore Eleecia Carter) ... Team shoots 47 percent from field, 39 percent on 3-pointers (140 of 360) ... Of 504 baskets, 270 assisted to go with 216 steals.

Westlake (20-0)
Points per game: 73.1 | Points allowed: 35.7
Last played: March 12, 64-46 win over Carrollton for Georgia AAAAAA state crown
Key players: Raven Johnson (McDonald's All-American, South Carolina commit), Snoop Turnage (Virginia Tech commit), Taniya Latson
Key stats/facts: Latson averages team best 23.2 points per game, Johnson 15.1 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 steals ... Team shoots 52 percent from field and made 60-of-206 attempts on 3s (29 percent) ... Of 568 baskets, 291 assisted with 260 steals.

Paul VI (10-0)
Points per game: 75.1 | Points allowed: 44.2
Last played: Feb. 9, 68-66 win over Washington D.C. power St. John's
Key players: Lee Volker (Duke signee), Bella Perkins
Key stats/facts: Scored 110 points in second game of the year ... Pieced together schedule, including some 40-minute games to make up for shortened season ... Volker averages 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists .... Perkins leading scorer at 16.8 per game.

Fremont (26-0)
Points per game: 70.0 | Points allowed: 31.7
Last played: March 6, 63-43 win over Herriman for Utah 6A title
Key players: Emma Calvert (BYU commit), Maggie Mendelson, Timea Gardiner (Oregon State commit)
Key stats/facts: Six players at least 6-feet tall, including 6-4 senior Calvert (17.3 ppg), 6-5 sophomore Mandelson (14.3 ppg, 8.9 rebounds per game) and 6-3 junior Gardiner (13.5 ppg), likely be out with a knee injury ... Team shoots 49 percent from the field, including 34 percent on 3-pointers (157 of 466) ... Of 692 baskets, 474 assisted with 344 steals.

GEICO Girls Nationals schedule

Friday, April 2
Games on ESPNU, All times ET
10:30 a.m. — Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.) vs. Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.)
12:30 p.m. — Fremont (Plain City, Utah) vs. Westlake (Atlanta)

Saturday, April 3
Game on ESPN2
10 a.m. — Championship