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Laurel remains atop’s girls basketball top 25 following holiday tournaments

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 1/7/2020 By Joe Magill,
a close up of a basketball: A basketball sits at Schottenstein Center before an OHSAA state championship game. © A basketball sits at Schottenstein Center before an OHSAA state championship game.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — There’s no shortage of approaches taken by Northeast Ohio’s girls basketball coaches with respect to the winter holidays.

Some teams loaded up their schedules, topped by Hoban, which played five games. Laurel, Cornerstone Christian, Westlake and Gilmour each played four games -- the Lancers played their games within a stretch of eight days.

On the other hand, several teams spent the entire break away from competition, opting instead for practices or just time away from the game. Others, including Eastlake North, Bay, Brush and Strongsville, played just once.

Three area teams chose to spend part of their break traveling to Florida to face very strong competition — Cornerstone was in Miami, Magnificat was in the Orlando area and Westlake was in Tampa Bay. Magnificat won two of its three contests to place fifth in its tournament, while Cornerstone and Westlake both dropped two of three.

In addition, St. Joseph Academy traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to play in an event hosted by its sister school. The Jaguars won both of their games and are riding a four-game winning streak heading into their matchup Wednesday with Cornerstone.

But now that everyone has returned to the cold weather, let’s get back to what really matters: here is how this week’s area Top 25 stacks up entering the seventh week of the season.

1. Laurel (8-2)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 1, lost to Pickerington Central, 49-40; lost to Gahanna Lincoln, 56-53; beat Hathaway Brown, 77-36; beat Canton GlenOak, 67-50.

This week: Wednesday at Padua; Friday vs. Mayfield; Monday at Beaumont.

2. Medina (10-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 2; lost to Canton GlenOak, 54-42; beat Padua, 66-47; beat Shaker Heights, 62-36.

This week: Wednesday at Elyria; Saturday vs. No. 9 Magnificat.

3. Cornerstone Christian (9-4)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 3, lost to Miami (Fla.) High, 53-37; lost to Davie (Fla.) Nova, 53-47; beat Tampa (Fla.) Chamberlain, 49-21; beat No. 7 Hoban, 75-68.

This week: Wednesday at No. 19 St. Joseph Academy; Friday vs. North Allegheny (Pa.); Saturday vs. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney; Monday at Euclid.

4. Elyria Catholic (10-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 4, beat then-No. 25 Gilmour, 65-42; beat Rocky River, 58-25.

This week: Wednesday at Parma; Saturday at Valley Forge.

5. Stow (9-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 5, beat Chardon, 53-26; beat then-No. 25 Gilmour, 43-40; beat Hudson, 61-35.

This week: Wednesday vs. Cuyahoga Falls; Saturday at Brecksville.

6. Eastlake North (10-2)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 6, beat Kenston, 63-47; beat Twinsburg, 71-40.

This week: Wednesday at Willoughby South.

7. Hoban (10-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 7, beat Salem, 71-45; beat West Branch, 56-51; lost to No. 3 Cornerstone Christian, 75-68; beat Walsh Jesuit, 81-38; beat Kenmore-Garfield, 71-41.

This week: Saturday vs. Gilmour.

8. Nordonia (11-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 8, beat then-No. 15 Aurora, 56-51; beat Cuyahoga Falls, 52-47.

This week: Wednesday vs. North Royalton; Saturday at Twinsburg.

9. Magnificat (9-3)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 9, lost to Tampa (Fla.) Carrollwood Day School, 56-36; beat Cincinnati Indian Hill, 62-45; beat Roswell (Ga.), 73-36.

This week: Wednesday at Gilmour; Saturday at No. 2 Medina.

10. Olmsted Falls (9-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 10, beat Pickerington North, 60-22; beat Lakewood, 71-35.

This week: Wednesday at Midview; Saturday at North Olmsted.

11. Westlake (8-3)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 11, beat Arlington Heights (Tx.), 57-40; lost to Spruce Creek (Fla.), 62-46; lost to Saddle River (N.J.) Day School, 66-42; beat then-No. 18 Avon, 55-28.

This week: Wednesday vs. North Ridgeville; Saturday at Amherst.

12. Highland (11-2)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 12, beat Buckeye, 57-44; beat Copley, 40-32.

This week: Wednesday at Tallmadge; Saturday vs. Barberton.

13. Cleveland Heights (12-1)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 13, beat Perry, 43-38; beat Mentor, 60-52; beat Shaw, 63-18.

This week: Wednesday at Warrensville Heights; Saturday at Euclid.

14. Buchtel (10-3)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 14, beat Kenston, 63-51; beat Canfield, 53-46.

This week: Thursday vs. Ellet; Monday at Akron East.

15. Aurora (7-3)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 15, lost to then-No. 8 Nordonia, 56-51; beat Revere, 51-44.

This week: Wednesday at Copley; Saturday vs. Painesville Riverside.

16. Solon (6-5)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 16, beat Columbus Whitehall-Yearling, 59-44; lost to Sylvania Southview, 56-40; beat Strongsville, 59-47.

This week: Wednesday at Euclid; Saturday vs. Brunswick.

17. Avon Lake (8-2)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 17, beat Elyria, 73-30; beat Amherst, 42-25.

This week: Wednesday at Lakewood; Saturday at Midview; Monday vs. Brunswick.

18. Avon (7-4)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 18, beat Wadsworth, 52-43; lost to No. 11 Westlake, 55-28.

This week: Wednesday at North Olmsted; Saturday vs. North Ridgeville.

19. St. Joseph Academy (6-4)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 21, beat Baton Rouge (La.) St. Joseph Academy, 49-32; beat Lafayette (La.) Teurlings Catholic, 54-27; beat Padua, 43-38.

This week: Wednesday vs. No. 3 Cornerstone Christian; Saturday at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.

20. Independence (10-0)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 23, beat Wellington, 38-29; beat Fairport, 53-35.

This week: Wednesday at Lutheran West; Saturday vs. Grand Valley.

21. Brush (6-5)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 24, beat Mayfield, 54-40.

This week: Wednesday vs. Kenston; Saturday at Columbus Northland.

22. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (9-1)

Last two weeks: Unranked, beat Youngstown Valley Christian, 72-31; beat Lake Center Christian, 59-18; beat Orrville, 52-39.

This week: Wednesday at Wooster Triway; Saturday at Villa Angela-St. Joseph; Monday vs. Massillon.

23. Beaumont (5-5)

Last two weeks: Unranked, lost to Berea-Midpark, 60-42; lost to Walsh Jesuit, 63-60; beat then-No. 20 St. Vincent-St. Mary, 48-38.

This week: Wednesday vs. Hathaway Brown; Saturday at Cleveland Central Catholic; Monday vs. No. 1 Laurel.

24. Bay (8-3)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 19, lost to Cuyahoga Falls, 42-31.

This week: Wednesday at Holy Name; Saturday vs. Normandy.

25. West Geauga (10-2)

Last two weeks: Ranked No. 22, lost to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, 50-36; beat Sharpersville (Pa.), 68-26; beat Slippery Rock Area (Pa.), 50-25.

This week: Wednesday vs. Beachwood; Saturday at Orange.

Dropped out: St. Vincent-St. Mary (was No. 20); Gilmour (was No. 25).

Teams to watch (listed alphabetically): Cuyahoga Falls (7-4); Gilmour (5-7); Kirtland (8-2); Lutheran East (8-3); Mentor (5-5); Perry (7-3); St. Vincent-St. Mary (6-6); Strongsville (6-3); Trinity (6-4); Walsh Jesuit (5-6).

Closing thoughts: There were no major changes to the Top 25 over the holidays, just some re-shuffling on the back end. Laurel solidified its No. 1 ranking with a convincing victory over Canton GlenOak, which had been chewing up and spitting out the teams it faced from the Greater Cleveland area, including No. 2 Medina.

It’s difficult to get a handle on the competition faced by teams that traveled out-of-state. While there’s no doubt that the teams that played in Florida events faced strong competition, there is no way to gauge just how strong those teams were, so the results were largely ignored for ranking purposes.

Two teams enter the Top 25 this week, No. 22 Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, which is making its first appearance, and No. 23 Beaumont, which was ranked No. 25 in the preseason poll. Those teams appear at the expense of St. Vincent-St. Mary and Gilmour.

Not a lot is known about CVCA, which has won nine of 10 but many against teams not in the coverage area. The Royals are very young, with a strong group of freshmen, and are tied atop the Principals Athletic Conference with Canal Fulton Northwest.

Beaumont has been a difficult team to pin down. The Blue Streaks have signature victories over Doylestown Chippewa — a Division III final four team last year — and St. Vincent-St. Mary. They also gave No. 6 Eastlake North all it could handle a few weeks ago. But there are some losses on the schedule that are head-scratchers.

Probably the toughest team to figure out right now is St. Vincent-St. Mary, which has lost three of four, including its last two to Dalton and Beaumont. Suddenly the Irish can’t score, as they totaled 35 points against Dalton and 38 against Beaumont. In Monday’s game against Beaumont, St. V-M held a 25-17 halftime lead, only to watch the visiting Blue Streaks outscore them, 31-13, in the second half.

Congratulations: Elyria Catholic senior Abby Winnen knew last week that she was approaching 1,000 career points, so when she scored a career-high 30 in a victory over Gilmour, she thought perhaps she had passed the landmark. However, it only put her at 999. The landmark fell for the Saginaw Valley commit in a victory over Rocky River. Lutheran East senior Tyra Eppinger also passed 1,000 points during her team’s holiday games.

Apologies: Cleveland Central Catholic guard Chantel Barnett scored 23 points recently in a 71-34 victory over Garfield Heights to put her over 1,000 points. Her name was incorrectly reported in the previous Top 25.


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