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Ranking the top 25 high school girls programs in the country

JuJu Watkins, a 2023 USC signee, is one of three finalists for the Gatorade National Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year award. (Jason Armond/Getty Images)

The 2022-23 high school basketball season is officially underway, and varsity teams across the country are looking to make a name for themselves on a national stage.

At Just Women’s Sports, we’ve ranked the top 25 teams from coast to coast, each one of them poised to make waves in their home state and beyond.

1. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 7-0

Head coach: Alicia Komaki

The Trailblazers finished last season as California state champions and ranked in the national top 5. They return 11 of 12 players from last year’s roster, including two Team USA gold medalists, 2023 USC signee JuJu Watkins and 2024 forward Mackenly Randolph. The team also boasts 2024 guard Izela Arenas and 2023 Northwestern signee Crystal Wang. This season, Sierra Canyon’s motto is “Good to Great,” as the Trailblazers look to follow up last year’s successful campaign with even more hardware.

2. Sidwell Friends (D.C.), 4-0

Head coach: Tamika Dudley

The Quakers took care of business last season, going undefeated and capturing the SCI National Championship. In 2022-23, Sidwell Friends begins a new chapter after graduating top recruit and current UCLA freshman guard Kiki Rice. Led by seniors Jadyn Donovan (Duke signee) and Khia Miller (East Carolina signee) as well as juniors Kendall Dudley, Leah Harmon and Zania Socka-Nguemen, Sidwell Friends is a threat to win it all once more.

3. Etiwanda (Calif.), 9-0

Head coach: Stan Delus

There’s no shortage of elite basketball programs in the state of California, and Etiwanda is strong proof of that. The Eagles’ smallest margin of victory so far this season is 23 points, with eight of their nine wins coming on neutral courts. As a public school, Etiwanda has some of the nation’s top talent: Class of 2024 recruit Kennedy Smith and 2025 recruit Puff Morris are two of California’s most exciting players.

4. Montverde Academy (Fla.), 10-0

Head coach: Special Jennings

The reigning GEICO High School Nationals champion, Montverde carries a rich basketball tradition into the 2022-23 season. The Eagles are long, fast and talented, thanks to a highly touted roster that includes South Carolina signee Sahnya Jah, Mississippi State signee Mjracle Sheppard and 2024 paint powerhouse Lety Vasconcelos.

5. La Jolla Country Day (Calif.), 9-0

Head coach: Terri Bamford

Three names to remember: Breya Cunningham, Jada Williams and Tajianna Roberts. Williams and Cunningham won a gold medal in Hungary this summer as part of Team USA’s U17 squad and recently signed with Arizona as part of coach Adia Barnes’ 2023 freshman class. Roberts is a well-rounded 2024 recruit with her best basketball ahead of her.

6. Hopkins (Minn.), 5-0

Head coach: Tara Starks

Hopkins has won eight state championships since 2004, including in 2022, and is the alma mater of UConn star and 2021 National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers. This season, all eyes will be on Stanford signee Sunaja Agara and Michigan signee Taylor Woodson.

7. South Grand Prairie (Texas), 10-4

Head coach: Brion Raven

While it might seem odd to place a team with four losses at No. 7, South Grand Prairie suffered those losses to Sierra Canyon (57-47), Sidwell Friends (61-49), Montverde Academy (45-42) and La Jolla Country Day (47-44). The Warriors have ranked wins over Conway (Ark.) and St. John’s College (D.C.) and more than a handful of double-digit victories. The losses might hurt now, but the Warriors will be all the better for it later.

8. St. John Vianney (N.J.), 0-0

Head Coach: Dawn Carpell

St. John Vianney will open its highly anticipated season on Dec. 17 against Bishop McNamara (Md.). This season, the Lady Lancers will start three players bound for Division I schools: Holy Cross signee Janie Bachmann, NC State signee Zoe Brooks and Bucknell signee Ashley Sofilkanich. After winning 32 games last season — and falling only once, to Sidwell Friends on a neutral court — St. John Vianney knows exactly what it takes to reach the top.

9. Incarnate Word Academy (Mo.), 5-0

Head coach: Dan Rolfes

The 12-time state champion Red Knights are experts at controlling the pace of a game, regardless of where they’re playing. Led by Nebraska signee Natalie Potts and Illinois State signee Brooke Coffey, they have already overwhelmed their opponents at home in St. Louis and at the recent ‘Iolani Classic tournament in Hawaii. No team in the nation has a longer winning streak than Incarnate Word, with 72 straight victories.

10. Conway (Ark.), 8-1

Head coach: Ashley Hutchcraft

Any time a roster boasts a Gatorade State Player of the Year, it’s safe to say they’re in good hands. The Wampus Cats have the gift of Stanford signee Chloe Clardy as they embark on a revenge tour of sorts after an upset loss brought their outstanding 2021-22 season to an end. Conway lost its undefeated status at the start of December in a 15-point loss to South Grand Prairie and ultimately finished the season 29-2.

11. Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.), 4-0

Head coach: Christina Raiti

Though the Crusaders are only a few games into the season, they have two of the most impressive wins so far — a close victory over Bishop McNamara (Md.) and a 30-point rout of IMG Academy (Fla.). On Saturday, Long Island Lutheran will look to pad its resume in another tough matchup against Paul VI (N.J.). Then in January, they’ll face both St. John Vianney and Montverde Academy. If the Crusaders, led by 2024 star guard Kayleigh Heckel and power forward Kate Koval, can win most (or all) of those games, they’ll have a case for being a top-5 team in the country.

12. South Bend Washington (Ind.), 12-0

Head coach: Steve Reynolds

Indiana’s top team remains undefeated after taking care of business against Michigan juggernaut West Bloomfield. South Bend Washington’s schedule is packed with fierce competition around the Midwest, and this squad is more than up to the task. The Panthers return two of their starters from last season’s state championship team in Purdue signee Rashunda Jones and Maryland signee Amiyah Reynolds, both of whom are sure to make waves next year in the Big Ten.

13. Sacred Heart (Ky.), 5-0

Head coach: Donna Moir

The Valkyries of Sacred Heart Academy are not only the best team in Kentucky, but are also guaranteed to put on a show. Top 2025 recruit and the reigning Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year, ZaKiyah Johnson, is one of the most impressive players in the nation. This season, the Valkyries are already playing with patience and a high defensive IQ.

14. Lone Peak (Utah), 4-1

Head coach: Nancy Warner

Utah’s defending state champions suffered their sole loss so far this season in a 64-56 battle with Sierra Canyon — a matchup that will surely benefit both teams as their seasons progress. Lone Peak’s potential is through the roof as they return their entire roster from last season. Pay special attention to BYU signee Kailey Woolston and 2024 guard Shawnee Nordstrom, both of whom can impact games in big ways.

15. St. John’s College (D.C.), 6-1

Head coach: Jonathan Scribner

If you must lose a game, a tight one to South Grand Prairie (Texas) isn’t a bad way to do it. Duke signee Delaney Thomas leads a talented Cadets roster that also features 2024 standout guard Kyndal Walker. The gauntlet of a DMV high school basketball schedule is a tall order, but St. John’s College can count on depth and balanced scoring in the journey ahead.

16. Duncanville (Texas), 9-3

Head coach: LaJeanna Howard

One of two Texas 6A district teams on this list, Duncanville girls’ basketball is consistently one of the strongest programs in the country. Due to a three-year probation stemming from recruiting violations, the Pantherettes are unable to participate in postseason play. If not for that, the 11-time state champions would have a real shot at another title.

17. Hoover (Ala.), 12-0

Head coach: Krystle Johnson

The Lady Bucs have hoisted four state title trophies since 2017, and coach Krystle Johnson has won more than 92 percent of her 200-plus games at the helm. Thanks to its high-level discipline and impressive offense, Hoover will be a problem for any team on its schedule. North Carolina signee Reniya Kelly is a major key to their success, which already includes three separate wins over teams with a 5-star player.

18. Hazel Green (Ala.), 10-0

Head coach: Timothy Miller

The Trojans are nearing a 70-game win streak, and they’re ready for more. For half a decade now, Hazel Green has been one of Alabama’s best programs, collecting five consecutive Class 6A state titles. Four of the Trojans’ five starters return this year, including Class of 2024 forward Leah Brooks, so a sixth title may be in the cards.

19. DeSoto (Texas), 9-3

Head coach: Andrea Robinson

The other half of the dangerous Texas 6A district one-two punch, DeSoto has a young roster this season but a host of talented players in the Class of 2026. DeSoto’s three losses so far this season — against Duncanville, Montverde Academy and Summer Creek (Houston) — were all decided by single digits. After two consecutive Texas 6A state titles, the Eagles need to focus on building a strong foundation in this new era.

20. Centennial (Nev.), 1-1

Head coach: Karen Weitz

Centennial boasts seven consecutive state championships and one of the Class of 2023’s most skilled players in Montaya Dew. Her speed and ability to finish from anywhere on the court made her a highly coveted recruit prior to her choice to sign with Arizona. Throw 2024 guards Kaniya Boyd and Danae Powell into the equation, and the Bulldogs are well on their way to success despite losing their season opener to Lone Peak.

21. Paul VI (N.J.), 0-0

Head coach: Oscar Hidalgo

Paul VI has every reason to be confident about this season, including returning most of its roster from last year. Power forward Mikayla Young and Notre Dame signee Hannah Hidalgo, a top-5 recruit in the Class of 2023, are the lone seniors on an Eagles squad that could do some damage. Last season, Hidalgo averaged 21.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 5.4 steals per game and was named the Olympic Conference Player of the Year. The Eagles fell in last season’s state title game, but a shot at redemption seems likely.

22. Archbishop Mitty (Calif.), 6-1

Head coach: Sue Phillips

Not many coaches have experienced the height of success like Sue Phillips has. Her teams are well-rounded and prepared for whatever gets thrown their way. After winning a gold medal this past summer as the coach of the U.S. U17 team, Phillips returns to San Jose with a loaded roster — including first-time Team USA player Morgan Cheli — and a chance at the California state title.

23. Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), 7-1

Head coach: Al Honor

Division I coaches across the nation have their eyes on Central Florida-based Lake Highland Prep, and for good reason. After a nine-point loss to Example Academy Red (Ill.) in theirsecond game, the Highlanders have bounced back with notable wins over St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) and Miami Country Day (Fla.). Class of 2024 guards Lexi Blue and Jada Eads lead the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game and 12.4 points per game, respectively, and 2023 guard Eleecia Carter (12.1 points per game) is not far behind.

24. Clovis West (Calif.), 11-0

Head coach: Craig Campbell

Clovis West has managed to win most of its 11 games comfortably so far this season. Until a single-point win over Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) on Dec. 8, Clovis West had defeated each of its opponents by a margin anywhere between 21 and 77 points. After its successful run at the recent East Coast tournament, Clovis West has put California programs on notice.

25. Bishop McNamara (Md.), 2-2

Head coach: Frank Oliver Jr.

Frank Oliver Jr. and the Mustangs will look to make their fourth-consecutive appearance in the Maryland state title game. After opening the season with a 25-point loss to Sidwell Friends, and then suffering a two-point heartbreaker to Long Island Lutheran, Bishop McNamara will need to focus on its long-term goals moving forward. In the cutthroat Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, it won’t get any easier.

Caroline Makauskas is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers a variety of sports on her TikTok @cmakauskas. Follow her on Twitter @cmakauskas.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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