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Centennial seeks to solidify ranking in State Champions Invitational

(Courtesy of @centennialgbb)

Is the Centennial High School (Las Vegas, Nev.) basketball team for real?

For the better part of the past decade, coach Karen Weitz’s team has run things in Nevada; the Bulldogs are seven-time state champions and counting.

But questions remain. Sure, Centennial romped to the 2022 state crown, beating Douglas (Minden), 65-9, in the semifinal and Bishop Manogue (Reno), 93-34, in the championship. All three of the Bulldogs’ defeats this season have come against out-of-state foes, though, and Centennial is rarely ranked highly among the top teams in the nation.

The Bulldogs can put those doubts to rest this weekend, when they take the court at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa in the first iteration of the State Champions Invitational, along with Sidwell Friends (D.C), Woodward (Ga.) and Lake Highland (Fla.).

Key to Centennial’s efforts will be Montaya Dew, a junior forward committed to Arizona who scored 15 points in the state title win. But Dew, and the Bulldogs, will be facing stiffer competition than ever before. Centennial, which did not qualify for the JWS  rankings until the end of its state tournament. opens the tournament Friday against Sidwell Friends.

1. Sidwell Friends (D.C.), 27-0

The Quakers look to finish out their perfect season with a State Champions Invitational championship this weekend.

2. Hopkins (Minn.), 25-1

The Royals capped off a near perfect season with a 72-56 win over St. Michael-Albertville in the AAAA state semifinal.

3. DeSoto (Texas), 33-2

The Eagles completed their “legacy tour” with a 40-23 win over South Grand Prairie and a second consecutive 6A state championship.

4. Classen SAS (Okla.), 23-1

The Comets won the school’s first state championship in any sport with a 55-22 win over Tuttle in the 4A state finals.

5. St. John Vianney (N.J.), 32-1

The Lancers ended their season in style, defeating Rutgers Prep, 72-52, in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions finals.

6. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 29-2

The Trailblazers rolled Archbishop Mitty, 85-61, to claim their second straight CIF Open Division state crown.

7. Montverde (Fla.), 20-3

The Tigers defeated DME, and then New Hope, to claim the GEICO Nationals championship.

8. Cedar Park (Texas), 36-0

Gisella Maul scored 27 points as the Timberwolves earned their second straight 5A state championship with a 45-40 win over Memorial.

9. New Hope (Md.), 28-3

The Tigers beat IMG in the GEICO Nationals semifinal but then fell to Montverde, 61-57.

10. Incarnate Word (Mo.), 29-0

The Red Knights routed Kickapoo, 67-50, to claim the Class 6 state crown and complete a perfect season.

11. Etiwanda (Calif.), 28-1

Despite their loss to Sierra Canyon in the state semifinal, the Eagles put together a season worth remembering.

12. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 23-4

The Highlanders look to make a statement at the State Champions Invitational.

13. La Jolla Country Day (Calif.), 24-3

The Torreys’ season came to an end in the CIF open division region semifinal.

14. Hazel Green (Ala.), 33-0

The Trojans defeated Oxford 55-38 in the 6A championship game for their fifth straight state title.

15. Johnston (Iowa), 26-0

The Dragons beat Waterloo West 51-31 to claim the 5A state title one year after losing in the championship game.

16. Woodward Academy (Ga.), 28-2

The War Eagles play Lake Highland in the State Champions Invitational semifinal.

17. DME (Fla.), 21-4

DME fell to Montverde, 67-54, in the GEICO Nationals semifinal.

18. Lone Peak (Utah), 23-0

The Knights beat Fremont in the 6A state championship to cap a perfect season.

19. Noblesville (Ind.), 25-4

The Millers beat Franklin Community 76-52 to claim the 4A state title, the program’s second state crown and first since 1987.

20. South Bend Washington (Ind.), 27-3

The Panthers annihilated Silver Creek 93-35 in the 3A state championship game last weekend.

21. Centennial (Nev.), 17-3

The Bulldogs will play for the first time in more than a month this weekend at the State Champions Invitational.

22. IMG (Fla.), 12-5

The Ascenders beat Bishop McNamara, 67-48, in their opening round GEICO Nationals game but then fell to New Hope.

23. Fremont (Utah), 24-3

The Timberwolves fell to Lone Peak in the 6A state final.

24. Duncanville (Texas), 34-7

The Pantherettes’ season came to an end Feb. 26 with a loss to DeSoto in the 6A Region II final.

25. Hoover (Ala.), 34-3

The Buccaneers beat Vestavia Hills, 73-64, to claim the 7A state crown.

Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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