Dec. 23 Girls Basketball Power Rankings

These power rankings are based on dominance by class and not a strictly head-to-head ranking.

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  1. Strafford (9-0 – Class 3)
    This spot has been the easiest decision over the last two years. Strafford would be the no doubt No. 1 in these rankings if it was a strictly head-to-head ranking of the best teams and not dominance by class. The winning streak is up to 91 consecutive games. Strafford has won games by an average score of 74-34.7. The Lady Indians also aren’t hiding from anyone with the most difficult schedule of this current four-year run featuring the Carthage Tournament and multiple games against St. Louis area schools. None of it has mattered as Strafford continues to run right through all opponents. Hayley Frank is having another stellar season that has included two triple doubles. She went for 29 points 14 rebounds and 11 assists against state-ranked MV-BT/Liberty. The next game she had 14-13-11 against Springfield Catholic.

UP NEXT: Strafford is the No. 1 seed in the Pink Division of the Pink & White Tournament. The Lady Indians open with a one-loss Lebanon squad. Their most likely semifinal opponent if seeds hold would be No. 4 Jonesboro or No. 5 Kickapoo. Ozark (No. 2) and Class 3 rival Mt. Vernon (No. 3) are the top seeds on the top half of the bracket.

  1. Walnut Grove (9-0 – Class 1)
    The Walnut Grove girls are on a mission to return to the Class 1 Final Four after being upset in the state quarterfinals by Wheatland last year. That mission is off to a strong start. The Lady Tigers have outscored opponents 58.1-38. That margin is made more impressive when you look at the makeup of their schedule. So far Walnut Grove has wins over Class 5 Parkview, Class 3 Stockton six Class 2 schools and a revenge victory over Wheatland 60-47. Five of those teams already have six wins.

UP NEXT: Walnut Grove is into the semifinals of its home holiday tournament. The Lady Tigers will face Richland. The championship or third place game will be against either state-ranked Hartville or a very good Crane team that the Lady Tigers beat by six points on Dec. 6.

  1. Thayer (5-1 – Class 2)
    Thayer has been one of the area’s best teams recently with a record of 50-3 over the last two seasons and a 5-1 record so far this year. The reason they have been a bit overlooked is because they have come up short of the Final Four in each of those seasons. This year the Lady Bobcats have beefed up their schedule in hopes of making a run to that elusive Final Four and are currently ranked No. 1 in Class 2. The game that sticks out on their schedule more than any of the wins is a 49-44 loss to Jonesboro (Ark.). Jonesboro is one of the top teams in Arkansas regardless of class, so hanging with them is a great sign for Thayer.

UP NEXT: Thayer is in a very challenging Pink & White Tournament that will tell us a lot about the Lady Bobcats. They are an unseeded team, but deserved a seed in my opinion. They open with a rematch against Jonesboro. Their second game will be either against a Class 5 contender in Kickapoo or potential Class 2 Final Four opponent in Blue Eye. Strafford, Lebanon, Branson and Parkview are also on their half of the bracket. The Lady Bobcats have a golden opportunity to pick up some statement wins starting Dec. 26.

  1. Licking (9-0 – Class 3)
    Licking was one of the big winners in the realignment of districts prior to the start of the season. The Lady Wildcats were moved to Class 3 – District 2, which means they wouldn’t have to face the three-time defending champion Strafford Lady Indians (or state-ranked Clever, Fair Grove or Mt. Vernon) until a Final Four game. The Lady Wildcats have looked every bit the part of a Final Four team in the early going with a 9-0 start and a No. 2 ranking in Class 3. Karlee Holland continues to be one of the area’s most dynamic players averaging 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and an absurd 5.8 steals per game. Behind her, Licking has a ton of balance with six players averaging between 4.6 and 7.2 points per game.

UP NEXT: Licking will kick off the Rolla Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27 at St. James against North County. A win in that game would set up a semifinal against St. James or Smith-Cotton. Licking already owns a 45-29 win over St. James. Rolla, Warrensburg, Waynesville and St. Clair reside on the other side of the bracket.

  1. Ozark (5-2 – Class 5)
    Ozark is one of the teams I am most excited to see in the holiday tournaments. So far the Lady Tigers are 5-2 overall, but have only played two games against area competition so far. Their losses are quality to nationally ranked Fort Smith Northside and undefeated state-ranked Class 4 Helias Catholic. The local wins were by a 63-15 margin over Glendale and a 61-42 win over Class 4 state-ranked West Plains.

UP NEXT: The Lady Tigers are the No. 2 seed in the Pink Bracket of the Pink & White Tournament. The Lady Tigers open with Hillcrest. They will then face either Republic or Glendale. Rogersville & Mt. Vernon are the other seeded teams on their half of the bracket. Any championship run will have to go through No. 1 Strafford.

  1. Rogersville (6-3 – Class 4)
    Rogersville has played one of the area’s toughest schedules with high-level wins over Fair Grove, Clever and West Plains. All the losses are quality to Kickapoo, Willard and Strafford. Their win over West Plains was a low-scoring 31-30 victory, which will be big come seeding time for district play that is hosted by Rogersville.

UP NEXT: The Lady Wildcats drew the No. 6 seed in the Pink Bracket of the Pink & White Tournament and will face Spokane to open the tournament. No. 3 Mt. Vernon will be the semifinal opponent if seeds hold. This will be another strong test for the Lady Wildcats against one of the area’s best teams. Ozark and Republic are the other seeded teams in Rogersville’s half of the bracket with Strafford sitting as the No. 1 seed.

  1. Kickapoo (4-4 – Class 5)
    Kickapoo is the biggest enigma on this list. The Lady Chiefs are one of the most purely talented teams in Southwest Missouri. That talent is why they sat at No. 1 in Class 5 in the statewide coaches rankings to start the season. They are also young and still trying to figure things out at the varsity level. They Lady Chiefs have some great wins beating Rogersville, Nixa and Republic. They also have games where they haven’t been competitive losing by 46 to Conway (Ark.), 28 to Fayetteville (Ark.) and 22 to Class 3 Clever. All of those are high-quality teams, but losses by more than 20 points can’t happen for a team looking to win a championship in Class 5. The other loss was a four-point decision to current Class 5 No. 1 Jefferson City. I am very interested to see what this team does in the Pink & White Tournament with quality competition waiting at every round.

UP NEXT: Kickapoo gets a Class 2 Final Four contender in Blue Eye to open play in the Pink Bracket of the Pink & White Tournament as a five seed. Their second round game will be against either Arkansas power Jonesboro or Class 2 No. 1 Thayer. The area’s best team Strafford also resides on Kickapoo’s side of the bracket.

  1. Clever (9-2 – Class 3)
    Clever has won nine games with 10 of their 11 games being against teams that are at or over .500. Head coach Dan Jones has stepped up Clever’s schedule in an effort to get the Lady Blue Jays ready for a district run that will feature likely require beating both Fair Grove and Strafford to win. The Lady Jays feature a balanced attack with junior Allie Clevenger (18.2 ppg) and seniors Harper Little (13.4 ppg) and Abi Menzies (13.0 ppg). Fellow senior Tessa Newman is just behind them at 9.6 ppg. Little does a bit of everything with 6 assists, 5.3 steals, 5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

UP NEXT: Clever the five seed in the White Bracket of the Pink & White Tournament, but their position will give them ample opportunity to show the area and state their quality. They open with Class 1 Final Four participant Wheatland. Their second round game will be against either Lutheran North or Camdenton. Lutheran North played Stafford tough on Friday and would be a good measuring stick in Class 3. Nationally ranked Ft. Smith Northside out of Arkansas would be the ultimate test for Clever if they earned a trip to the semifinals.

  1. Fair Grove (9-1 – Class 3)
    To give you an idea of the quality of the Pink & White Tournament, Fair Grove is a one-loss team led by one of the area’s best players and the Lady Eagles still received a seven seed. They will look to outperform that seed behind the dynamic Alana Findley. The future Drury Lady Panther is averaging 20 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.1 assists per game. All but her assist numbers lead the team. Harley Maxwell (12.4 ppg) and Lexie Sutherland (11.0 ppg) also are scoring in double figures.

UP NEXT: Fair Grove gets a chance to prove the seeding committee wrong as a seven seed and the only school smaller than Class 4 on their half of the White Bracket. Class 4 Marshfield will be up first with either Class 5 Nixa (No. 2 seed) or Class 5 Central in their second game. Willard, West Plains, Carthage and Aurora are the other teams on their side of the bracket. Any championship run will likely have to go through nationally ranked Ft. Smith Northside.

  1. Mt. Vernon (4-2 – Class 3)
    Mt. Vernon is still a bit of a mystery to me. They have the talent with most players back from last year’s state quarterfinal team that finished 27-3. Illinois State commit Cameron Call and reigning Big 8 Player of the Year Caitlin Hicks. None of their wins so far jump out as they have lost to the two best teams they have faced so far in West Plains & Fayetteville (Ark.). They will have plenty of opportunity to show their quality in the Pink & White Tournament.

UP NEXT: Mt. Vernon drew a No. 3 seed in the Pink Division of the Pink & White Tournament. They face fellow Class 3 team Buffalo first. If they win that and seeds hold, Class 4 Rogersville will await in the quarterfinals. Ozark and Republic are the other seeded teams on their half of the bracket. A date with Strafford would be the likely prize for the Lady Mountaineers if they were to work their way to the title game.

  1. Hartville (9-1 – Class 2)
    Hartville is ranked No. 2 in Class 2 and for good reason. The Lady Eagles have just one loss to Class 5 Republic in the Kickapoo Tournament Championship which was their third game in as many days. Prior to that, they beat a pair of Class 5 schools in Glendale and Waynesville. Their closest game in their nine wins was 15 points.

UP NEXT: They are into the semifinals of the Walnut Grove Holiday Tournament as the No. 1 seed. They will face a Crane team led by one of the best Class 2 players in the state in Madison Hicks who is averaging 24 points and 15 rebounds per game. Undefeated host Walnut Grove or Richland will be Hartville’s opponent in a placement game.

  1. Blue Eye (5-2 – Class 2)
    Blue Eye is 5-2 on the season with both losses coming to Berryville (Ark.) by an average of 16.5 points per game. Berryville is currently 13-0 and would profile as a small Class 4 school in Missouri. Outside of that, Blue Eye has won games by an average of 66.4-31. Taylor Arnold and Kohnnar Patton provide a strong 1-2 punch for a Blue Eye squad that will be looking to rep Class 2 in a deep Pink & White Tournament.

UP NEXT: Blue Eye is unseeded in the Pink Bracket of the Pink & White Tournament. They will face an inconsistent and young Kickapoo squad in the first round. Their second round opponent will be either a top team from Arkansas in Jonesboro or Class 2’s No. 1 ranked team Thayer. Strafford, Parkview, Branson and Lebanon round out their half of the bracket.

  1. Weaubleau (7-1 – Class 1)
    I am not entirely sure how the Weaubleau girls are unranked in Class 1 at this point. The Lady Tigers own in-class wins over No. 8 Climax Springs twice (by 18 & 16) and No. 10 Wheatland (by 10) with their lone loss coming to undefeated Class 1 Lakeland. In fact, the combined record of Weaubleau’s opponents is 44-24 which improves to 43-17 when you remove the Weaubleau game from their records.

UP NEXT: Weaubleau is not in a holiday tournament. The Lady Tigers will play host to Wheatland on Jan. 3, which will be the second game between the two.

  1. Bradleyville (5-2 – Class 1)
    Bradleyville looks like it will be a threat to make it to a second consecutive Class 1 Final Four this year. The Lady Eagles have losses to one of Class 3’s best teams in Clever and Omaha (Ark.). Their six wins have been by an average of 41 points. Gracie Shipley has led the Lady Eagles at 21 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Emily Williams has also been a potent scorer with 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Bradleyville also has a lot of depth for a Class 1 team with four more players averaging between 5.8 and 9.9 points per game.

UP NEXT: Bradleyville is not in a holiday tournament, so the Lady Eagles will next take the court on Jan. 3 to open the Sparta Tournament.

  1. West Plains (4-5 – Class 4)
    West Plains is the only sub-.500 team on this list and in consideration. Schedule does matter though. The Lady Zizzers finished 1-2 in Florida this weekend, which I basically throw out of the equation as playing so far from home in a tournament with teams they likely had never heard of before stepping on the court. They own wins locally over Willow Springs (7-2), Lamar (6-2) and Mt. Vernon (4-2) with losses by one point in Class to Rogersville and to Class 5 Ozark and Class 3 Strafford by 22. Staying within a turbo clock of Strafford (30 points) is a bit of an accomplishment in its own right as the Lady Indians have won 29 of their last 42 games by at least 30 points.

UP NEXT: West Plains will either prove me right or prove me wrong for giving them this last spot during the Pink & White Tournament. They got respect with the No. 3 seed in the White Bracket. They open with two-loss Class 5 Carthage. No. 6 Willard or Aurora would be their second round game with Nixa, Fair Grove, Marshfield and Central also sharing the top half of the bracket.

Knocking on the door: Wheatland, Nixa, Lebanon, MV-BT Liberty, Willard, Sarcoxie