Editor's note: ESPN will release the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national girls' basketball rankings each Wednesday of the season.
Tony Smith knows how to book a basketball schedule.
This season, the Bolingbrook (Ill.) coach loaded up on neighbor Indiana's top teams, added a tournament in Ohio with a game against one of New York's powers and mixed in a December trip to Phoenix for the Nike Tournament of Champions.
The preseason No. 2, now back into the top 10 at No. 9, wrapped up its tough out-of-state schedule Saturday with a trip to Indianapolis to face Indiana's three-time 2A champion, Heritage Christian.
It wasn't just a test for Bolingbrook, but also a measuring stick for Indiana.
After losses to No. 1 South Bend Washington (Sound Bend, Ind.) and No. 2 Ben Davis (Indianapolis), the favorites in Indiana's class 4A, many eyes were on Saturday's battle against 2A Heritage Christian (Indianapolis). With Indiana's travel restrictions and the coaches from Indiana's top three teams not being able to schedule each other, Bolingbrook became shared factor.
What the young Illinois team's 60-56 win gave was another glimpse at the strength of the two state's top teams.
The Raiders built up a 12-point halftime lead that they would desperately need as point guard Ariel Massengale's teammates quickly fell into foul trouble in the second half. First was freshman sensation Morgan Tuck, then senior Satavia Taylor. Junior Mercedes Griffin was right behind Taylor on her way to the bench as each had drawn their fourth fouls in the third quarter.
But Massengale, Bolingbrook's super sophomore, remained calm and followed Smith's instructions to handle the ball every possession. She scored a game-high 25 points, including 10 of the Raiders' 20 second-half points.
The Eagles, who feature a quartet of seniors led by Connecticut signee Kelly Faris, brought the game to within one, 57-56, in the final minutes, but sophomore Falon Edwards hit three of four free throws to seal the win.
Faris, who scored the final basket for Heritage Christian, led the Eagles with 24 points, while classmate Claire Freeman added 19.
Heritage Christian, which lost one game to an out-of-state opponent last season, had a 25-game winning streak snapped. The Eagles, who are runaway favorites to win a fourth consecutive 2A title, have won 50 straight against Indiana opponents.
Bolingbrook, now 15-4, has losses to No. 1 South Bend Washington, No. 2 Ben Davis, No. 4 Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, Pa.) and No. 6 St. Michael Academy (New York City).
A pair of Southeastern Conference-bound seniors were the featured battle in Saturday's Wesleyan-Buford game in Georgia, but freshman Andraya Carter was the key that helped Buford (Ga.) snap a 22-game losing streak against Wesleyan (Norcross, Ga.). Carter had 20 in the 76-57 win, while her senior teammate, Auburn signee Blanche Alverson, finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Georgia signee Anne Marie Armstrong, Wesleyan's leading scorer, finished with a game-high 25 points.
California claims the top billing this week, as No. 34 Cajon (San Bernadino, Calif.) heads to Santa Ana, Calif., to face No. 3 Mater Dei as the Monarchs host the two-day, multi-team Nike Extravaganza. Mater Dei sits at 23-0, while Cajon is 21-1 with a loss to No. 30 Brea Olinda.
Off the bounce
Regular seasons are wrapping up in a handful of states, lending to tougher opponents. Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) finished the regular season 20-0 and kicks off playoffs this week, while Westbury Christian (Houston) is in the Texas Association of Private and Parachial Schools (TAPPS) playoffs and Whitney Young (Chicago) is in the Windy City League tournament. More states wrap up the regular season this week, including Indiana, Washington and Pennsylvania. Junior Maggie Lucas scored 13 of No. 28 Germantown Academy's 28 points in a 28-27 battle against Inter-Academic League opponent Notre Dame. Future Villanova teammates Jesse Carey, of Germantown (Fort Washington, Pa.), and Notre Dame's Devon Kane, were the storyline of the defensive battle as Carey, who guarded Kane, finished with three points and Kane had eight, including four from the line. In 2008's regional final, Carmel (Ind.) beat Ben Davis (Indianpolis) on its way to winning the 4A state title. Friday, No. 2 Ben Davis finally got the revenge it had been looking for, beating its conference rival 72-57, and stretching its season record to 21-0. Penn State signee Alex Bentley paced the Giants with 25 points, while sophomore Bria Goss and junior Jordan Huber each added 15. Showing the muscle of Denver's 5A/4A Continental League, which also features No. 50 Highlands Ranch (Colo.), No. 20 Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) heads to No. 47 ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) Tuesday. Friday, Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) beat Langham Creek, 58-29, behind an 18-point, 15-rebound effort from Chiney Ogwumike. The junior also added five steals and two assists, while sophomore Cassie Peoples scored 16 points and had five assists and four steals.
Two teams return to the Fab 50 this week after early-season losses knocked them out. Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas), winners of 12 consecutive games, returns at No. 49, while Highlands Ranch (Colo.), which has won seven games since a loss to Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) in December's Nike TOC, returns at No. 50.
Carroll (Wichita, Kan.), now 12-1, lost to South (Olathe, Kan.), 63-40, Saturday. Heights (Wichita, Kan.), also 12-1 with a loss to Carroll, did not play last week.
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Mindi Rice is a staff writer for ESPN HoopGurlz. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Records through Feb. 1.