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Stars set to converge at The Mecca

Lauren Williams played for St. Anthony's (South Huntington, N.Y.) in The Mecca Challenge last year, but the sophomore point guard has since transferred to St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.). Glenn Nelson/ESPN.com

If things fall right, one of the most notable gymnasiums in the country for boys' basketball could play host to as many as three No. 1s in high school girls' basketball.

One No. 1, for certain, will be represented at The Mecca Challenge, scheduled for Feb. 11-12, at the Gauchos Gymnasium, home to such NBA stars as Mark Jackson and Stephon Marbury, in the Bronx, N.Y.

Breanna Stewart of North Syracuse, N.Y., the top-ranked senior prospect in the 2012 class and a Connecticut commit, will play on Feb. 12 with Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.), which at No. 25 is one of four teams at the event currently ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Presented by South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and the Lady Choz club program, the event has teams from six different states and the District of Columbia. LaSalle Academy (Providence, R.I.) is the defending Rhode Island state champion, Murry Bergtraum (New York, N.Y.) last year won an unprecedented 13th PSAL championship, and Trenton Catholic (N.J.) is coming off a title in the New Jersey Tournament of Champions.

The highest-ranked team in the field is No. 3 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), which is considered one of the favorites to win the top Joe Smith Division at the Nike Tournament of Champions. If Riverdale does win the tournament in Chandler, Ariz., Dec. 17-22, it will have a strong claim on the No. 1 ranking in high school girls' basketball. The Lady Crusaders also have Jonquel Jones (Clemson signee) and Kelila Atkinson (Wake Forest), ranked as the Nos. 36 and 85 senior prospects, and DeJanae Boykin, who is considered by some to be the No. 1 freshman prospect in the country.

Malcolm X Shabazz (Newark, N.J.) is ranked No. 15 in the FAB 50, has the No. 10 sophomore prospect in Zaire O'Neal, and will take part in a battle of powerhouses on Feb. 12 against No. 17 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.), which features Antoinette Bannister and Hillary Fuller, the Nos. 58 and 80 senior prospects, both of whom are North Carolina signees.

The event is dotted with several more of the nation's top college prospects. Among them are Sierra Calhoun of Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), the No. 11 prospect in the 2014 class; Bria Holmes (West Virginia) of Hillhouse (Conn.), No. 28 in 2012; Michaela Mabrey (Notre Dame) of Manasquan (N.J.) No. 32 in 2012; Aliyah Cooley of host South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who is No. 49 in the 2013 class, and Sandra Udobi-Ofogu (St. John's) of Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.), No. 74 in 2012.

The Mecca Schedule

Sat., Feb. 11, 2012
11 a.m.: Calvin Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) vs. Harry Truman (Bronx, N.Y.)
12:30 p.m.: Trenton Catholic (N.J.) vs. North Babylon (N.Y.)
2 p.m.: Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.) vs. South Shore (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3:30 p.m.: Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.) vs. Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
5 p.m.: Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) vs. St. Anthony's (South Huntington, N.Y.)
6:30 p.m.: H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) vs. Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Sun., Feb. 12, 2012
11 a.m.: LaSalle Academy (Providence, R.I.) vs. Moore Catholic (Staten Island, N.Y.)
12:30 p.m.: Shipley (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) vs. Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
2 p.m.: Manasquan (N.J.) vs. H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.)
3:30 p.m.: Cicero North (Cicero, N.Y.) vs. Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
5:30 p.m.: Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. Malcolm X Shabazz (Newark, N.J.)
6:30 p.m.: Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.) vs. Murry Bergtraum (New York, N.Y.)

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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.