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Singling Out The 9 Best Guard Tandems In High School Girls' Basketball

Villanova recruit Raven James teams up with fellow senior Jasmine Whitney, a Pittsburgh recruit, at Paul VI to form one of the best backcourts in the nation. Courtesy Splendid Portraits

If there's one thing we know, it's that one is rarely enough.

When it comes to winning a state or national basketball title, it's hard to do it without two excellent backcourt players. In 2012, national champion Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) had Tyisha Petty and Alexa Middleton. In 2013, Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) had Crystal Dangerfield and Meme Jackson. Last year at Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), it was Ciani Cryor and Sianni Martin.

So as we unveil the espnW HoopGurlz Power Rankings for Week 1, we couldn't help but wonder: Where are the best guard tandems in 2015-16? Here, in no particular order, are top nine.

St. Mary's (Stockton, California): Seniors Mi'Cole Cayton and Katharine Tudor are simply magic on the court. Cayton, a Nebraska recruit and the No. 80 prospect in the nation, is athletic, aggressive and exuberant. Tudor, an Oregon State signee, is arguably the best long-range specialist in the nation. Did we mention they both play some mean defense, too? With a schedule that takes them to Phoenix for the Nike Tournament of Champions and Washington, D.C., for the Title IX Classic, fans from coast to coast will get to watch this exciting duo that always seems to find a way to win.

Heritage Christian (Indianapolis): These two have something to prove and the skill to do it. After winning back-to-back state titles in Indiana's Class 2A, Heritage Christian moved up from Class 2A to Class 3A this season. Thanks to Tyasha Harris and Katlyn Gilbert, they remain one of the favorites. Harris, a 5-10 point guard and one of the top unsigned prospects in 2016 at No. 27, has size, the ability to score and the confidence to take the big shot. Gilbert is the No. 10 sophomore prospect. She's young, but she's already learned how to put the ball in the basket.

Christ the King (Middle Village, New York): Seniors Sydney Zambrotta and Dominique Toussaint are a royal pain for opponents. The Louisville-bound Zambrotta, a 5-foot-9 left-handed shooting guard with a little New York swagger, seemingly improves every second of every day. Toussaint, a Virginia signee, is a smooth off-guard who can finish with flair in transition and brings a consistent mid-range game.

Paul VI (Fairfax, Virginia): The Panthers actually have three guards who could propel a national-title run. Let's start with the seniors. Raven James, a 5-5 lefty who is headed to Villanova, regularly works her way into the lane and brings a soft touch to her patented floaters. Jasmine Whitney, a 5-7 point guard headed to Pittsburgh, beats opponents off the dribble and from the arc. Now meet 5-9 freshman phenom Ashley Owusu. She's agile but strong; a scorer and a passer.

Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii): Speaking of trios, here's a trio of sisters you just have to follow. The Molinas are making serious waves in Hawaii. The oldest is Chanelle, a 5-7 point guard and two-time Gatorade state player of the year who has signed with Washington State. She scores in bunches but somehow makes it look easy. Celena Molina, a 5-9 junior, brings range to the arc and size to the backcourt. Cherilyn, the youngest, is waiting in the wings to make her splash.

Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tennessee): If one sister act isn't enough for you, check out 2013 national champion Riverdale, where the Hayes sisters are making a lot of noise. Anastasia Hayes, the No. 20 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60, averaged 18.9 points, 3.6 assists and 3.6 steals a year ago as a sophomore. She is cat-quick, attacks in up-tempo mode and delivers on the jumper. Aislynn Hayes, a freshman, is a clone of her big sister and delivers from deep. Stay tuned: There is another. Alasia Hayes, in the 2020 class, is waiting for her chance.

Lakota West (West Chester, Ohio): The reigning state champs in Ohio boast a backcourt that coaches dream of. West Virginia signee Nia Staples, a 5-8 point guard, wasted no time setting the tone for the season, posting a career-high 26 points in Lakota West's opener while also leading the team with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Staples is athletic and quick and can find her way into the lane whenever she pleases. Abby Prohaska brings a high motor and a smooth jumper, but the sophomore has been dealing with a foot injury early this season.

National Christian Academy: This loaded team already has a win over powerhouse Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tennessee), and guards Mykea Gray and E'lexus Davis are a big reason why they'll be racking up a whole lot more. Gray, a 5-6 junior point guard, can burn defenders lickety-split. Davis, a 5-7 point guard and a Hofstra signee, is more of a floor general, but she also raises opposing coaches' heart rates whenever she has the ball in her hands.

South Salem (Oregon): South Salem, currently just on the outside looking in at the espnW 25 Power Rankings, can lay a claim to one of the best and biggest backcourts in the land. Boise State signee Jordan Woodvine is a 5-10 lefty who exploits mismatches as part of her daily routine and can convert from mid-range consistently. She plays alongside do-it-all 6-foot shooting guard Evina Westbrook, the No. 3 junior in the nation who is smooth in the open floor and delivers defensively as well.