These power rankings are based on dominance by class and not a strictly head-to-head ranking.
1. Strafford (25-0 – C3)
Since the last rankings, Strafford has surpassed the state’s all-time consecutive wins record of 102 and is currently sitting at 107 consecutive wins. The Lady Indians have played just one game within single digits this year (a nine-point win over Lutheran North on Dec. 21). Individually, Hayley Frank is winding down the most statistically dominant girls basketball career in state history. Through last week’s games, Frank had 2,791 career points, 1,496 career rebounds, 767 career assists, 288 career blocks and 269 career steals. She has shot 90.5% on free throws (420-for-464), 70% from the field and 53% from 3-point in her career. The Mizzou signee will likely finish No. 1 all-time in Missouri in rebounds (current record is 1,563), top 5 all-time in assists (No. 5 is 794) with an outside shot of top five in points scored (3,077 is No. 5). The points is the least likely as she would have to average 32 points per game through a final four run to get there. This year she is averaging 23.4 points per game. She could average more points per game, but works to get her teammates involved as evidenced by her 7.1 assists per game average on a 5.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. This year, Frank is shooting 78% from the field on 243 attempts. Ultimately, no Missouri player has ever finished top five all time in two of total points, rebounds or assists for a career. She will get two of the three and with a strong scoring run to finish her career could have all three. Strafford faces two-loss Fair Grove for senior night on Thursday. A win in that game would be No. 108 in a row which would tie the Lady Indians for the 10th longest streak in the nation’s history. They are the No. 1 seed in their district and would face either Fair Grove for the second time in 9 days or a tough Clever team on their home court for the district title if seeds hold.
2. Walnut Grove (20-5 – C1)
Walnut Grove has five losses yet they are ranked ahead in these rankings of the Class 1 No. 1 undefeated Lakeland Vikings. The reason for this is strength of schedule. Here are the Lady Tigers’ five losses:
– By six in overtime to Class 4 Rogersville (18-6 overall, No. 9 in Class 4)
– By 40 to Strafford (25-0 overall, No. 1 in Class 3)
– By 8 to Parkway North (19-4 overall, No. 5 in Class 4)
– By 9 to Lee’s Summit West (13-6 overall, No. 1 seed in a Class 5 district)
– By 2 to Skyline (13-10 overall, No. 9 in Class 2)
None of those losses would be unexpected for any Class 1 school. Their in-class dominance has been impressive going 8-0 with an average margin of victory of 34 points. Faith Gilkey has been affecting the game in every way possible just like her older brother leading the team in scoring (21.4 per game), steals (4.5 per game) and assists (3.8 per game) while being second on the team in rebounding at 5.3 per game. Makayla McVay is the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.8 points per game and the leading rebounder with 8.4 per game. Lauren Johnson gives the Lady Tigers a third double-digit scorer at 11.6 points per game. Grace McPhail rounds out the team’s key scorers at 8.1 ppg.
3. Thayer (22-3 – C2)
Thayer is 10-1 since the last power rankings with that lone loss coming to Class 3 No. 5 MV-BT Liberty by 13. The Lady Bobcats picked up one of their best wins of the season a week and a half later by beating Class 3 No. 3 Licking by 17 points on the road. They have one more regular season game before starting district play as the No. 1 seed in Class 2 District 2. Julie Stone and Angela Sorrell have been leading the Lady Bobcats on their mission for a final four berth. Stone runs the show averaging 14.1 points per game to go with 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Angela Sorrell is actually just ahead of her in scoring and rebounding at 14.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game along with 2.2 steals per game. Shelby Coursey has added in 8.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. All three are shooting better than 50% from the floor.
4. Mt. Vernon (21-4 – C3)
The Lady Mountaineers are 10-1 since the last power rankings. They are led by one of the best 1-2 punches in the area in seniors Cameron Call and Caitlin Hicks who are both averaging 16 points per game for the Lady Mountaineers. Mt. Vernon is the prohibitive favorite in the Class 3 District 12 tournament. The top seeded Lady Mountaineers hold a 61-33 head-to-head victory over Seneca.
5. Fair Grove (21-2 – C3)
Fair Grove has the second-fewest losses in the area for a girls teams with two. Both losses (Rogersville & Nixa) are out of class. So far the Lady Eagles are unbeaten in 2019 with 11 consecutive wins dating back to a 10-point loss to Nixa in the Pink & White quarterfinals. The area’s senior class for the girls is incredibly deep and Alana Findley is near the top of that group. She is winding down a high school career that has seen her account for 2,038 points, 1,239 rebounds, 385 steals, 285 assists and 116 blocks. That is a career line of 19.2 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.6 spg, 2.7 apg and just over one block per game. This year she is averaging 22 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Her classmate Harley Maxwell is putting up 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The Lady Eagles will face their biggest rival Strafford on the road Thursday for the Lady Indians senior night to close out the regular season. They are the No. 2 seed in the Class 3 District 11 tournament where they would likely have to beat both host Clever and Strafford to earn Findley & Maxwell’s first trips to the state tournament. Clever has ended Fair Grove’s season each of the last two years in the district semifinals.
6. Lakeland (23-0 – C1)
Lakeland has ascended to No. 1 in the Class 1 state rankings and is one of only two area teams still unbeaten. They have a balanced attack led by senior Annie Swaters who is averaging a team-high 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. She gets strong support from the sophomore duo of Madison Thompson and Ryan Landes. Thompson is averaging 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while Landes adds in 13.6 points and a team-high 2.9 assists per game. In all, Lakeland has six players averaging at least five points per game. That type of depth is a luxury many Class 1 schools don’t have.
7. Kickapoo (18-6 – C5)
Kickapoo has figured things out since the last rankings going 9-1 including a statement 24-point win over Ozark back on Jan. 22. The Lady Chiefs go on the road to Waynesville on Thursday looking to secure a share of the Ozark Conference championship. The ceiling for Kickapoo is a state championship. They lost by four to Class 5 No. 1 and undefeated Jefferson City by four back in November at the Stephanie Phillips Classic. Jefferson City has only played two other games all season within single digits. Kickapoo, on the strength of head-to-head wins over the likes of Ozark, Nixa, Republic and Camdenton, should be the favorite to make a run to the Class 5 final four for this area.
8. Rolla (19-3 – C4)
Rolla saw its 18-game winning streak snapped by Kickapoo on Monday night, but even with the loss, the Lady Bulldogs have been one of the area’s most impressive teams. Their 18 game winning streak that lasted from Nov. 30 to this past Monday, saw them beating teams by a 20-point margin. Balance continues to rule the day for the Lady Bulldogs. Ellie Rodgers is averaging 11.7 points per game with freshman Savannah Campbell at 10.5. Then Loran Pritchett, Carli Libhart and Rebecca Janke are all averaging between 8.0 and 9.5 points per game. The scary thing for Class 4 and the OC is that all five of those players are back next season. Rolla will have a chance to prove how much they have grown in the district tournament. Sullivan, which beat the Lady Bulldogs 51-42 on Nov. 20, shares Class 4 District 10 with Rolla.
9. MV-BT Liberty (23-2 – C3)
Licking is the No. 1 seed in Class 3 District 2 ahead of Liberty, but Liberty has won 18 consecutive games, and the reason they have the nod over Licking for the ninth spot is because of a 65-52 win over Thayer. The Lady Wildcats lost to that same Thayer team by 17 this past Saturday. Piper Francis continues to lead the team with 22.7 points per game. Behind her Kaitlyn King, Kamryn Gastineau, Trinity Clark and Kinley Richards all average between 9.4 and 10.4 points per game to help take the pressure off of the best player in program history. Those top five scorers are also experienced with four seniors and one junior. At any rate, the Class 3 District 2 championship game will be one of the best in the Ozarks if seeds hold.
10. Licking (20-4 – C3)
Licking is 7-3 since the last power rankings with losses to Salem (by 15), Hartville (by 3) and Thayer (by 17). The Salem loss came without do-everything guard Karlee Holland on the court. She is averaging 18.8 points, 3.8 steals, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Much like Liberty, there is a supporting cast behind her with four players in Abby Moncrief, Kylie Taylor, Kiley Ingram and Lexi Hadix all averaging between 6.5 and 8 points per game. This is what has me so excited for a potential Licking vs. MV-BT Liberty district title game if seeds hold. Two elite guards squaring off with deep and talented players filling out both rosters. Also remember, if Licking or Liberty were to make a run to the final four, they wouldn’t have to see Strafford or any of the other area Class 3 teams until a state title game.
11. Blue Eye (17-6 – C2)
Here come the Blue Eye Lady Bulldogs. They have flown a bit under the radar this year, but that is going to change here come time for district play. Blue Eye caught two early losses to Berryville (Ark.) and then lost to Class 5 Kickapoo and big class Arkansas power Jonesboro in the Pink & White to bring their season record to 6-4 heading into the New Year. It is worth noting that the losses to Kickapoo & Jonesboro were without all-state junior Kohnnar Patton. Berryville is also currently 24-2 on the season in Arkansas. Since the New Year, Blue Eye is 12-2 with losses to Class 3 state-ranked Fair Grove and Clever. Patton is back and averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Senior Taylor Arnold is sitting at 16.1 points and 5 rebounds per game. Kenedi Larson gives coach Ken Elfrink a third double-digit scorer to go to as she is averaging 11.2 points to go with 3 boards and 2 assists. Patton’s injury may help the Lady Bulldogs here in the postseason as other players had to step up and develop their games. The area is sending a team to the Class 2 final four from districts 9-12 and Blue Eye along with two of the next three teams on this list are my favorites to make that run.
12. Hartville (21-4 – C2)
The gap between Hartville and Blue Eye on paper is negligible. The Lady Eagles have suffered losses to Class 5 Republic, Class 1 No. 3 Walnut Grove and Class 3 No. 6 Fair Grove and No. 5 MV-BT Liberty. The Lady Eagles are 10-1 since the last power rankings with a shot to wrap up an unbeaten Summit Conference season on Thursday at Fordland. Sadie Chisum leads Hartville with 18.5 points and 6.2 assists per game along with 4.2 rebounds per game. She is also knocking down 43% of her three-point attempts. Grace Culver has been effective operating inside the 3-point line averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 5.5 rebounds per game. The Hartville seniors have been to three district title games in their careers and won one last season before falling to eventual state champion Neelyville in the sectional round.
13. Nevada (18-4- C4)
The Nevada girls picked up one of the more impressive wins of the last few weeks by overcoming a 16-point first-half deficit to beat a quality, state-ranked Rogersville team to win the Big 8 Crossover championship on Monday. The Lady Tigers are now 18-4 on the season with losses to Mt. Vernon (twice), Thayer and a quality Heritage Christian squad. None of those losses are bad, but what Nevada had been lacking was a signature win. They got that against Rogersville. Junior Calli Beshore and sophomore Alyson Bower lead the Lady Tigers with 12.5 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. Beshore is also averaging six assists and four steals per game.
14. Rogersville (18-7 – C4)
Rogersville has the most losses on this list, but the Lady Wildcats are also one of the most tested teams on this list. Their losses are to: Strafford (twice), Kickapoo, Thayer, Mt. Vernon, Nevada and Willard. They came back to avenge that Mt. Vernon loss that occurred in the Pink & White by beating the Lady Mountaineers by one point to win the Big 8 East Championship. Jordyn Gault is averaging 14.4 points per game to lead the team. There is balance behind her with Maci McHenry (10.3 ppg), Taylor Overstreet (8.8 ppg), Sophia Nixon (6.5 ppg), Shelby Ince (6.1 ppg) and Sydney Dunavant (5.9 ppg). McHenry leads the team in rebounding (5.3 rpg) and Overstreet leads the team in assists (3.7 apg).
15. Miller (20-5 – C2)
This last spot was tough to decide on, but ultimately I couldn’t overlook to the great season Miller has had and the coaching job that former Lady Bear Hannah Wilkerson has done at her alma mater. The Lady Cardinals were a 19-win district runner-up squad last year. They graduated five of six players that averaged more than 1 point per game. At the Class 2 level, this generally means rebuild. That was not so for the Lady Cardinals who won their 20th game on Monday to cap off an undefeated run through the Southwest Conference. The conference title was the first for the program since they won an SRVC title in Wilkerson’s senior season. Miller has reloaded behind freshmen. Claudia Hadlock (17.3 ppg), Kaylee Helton (11.1 ppg) and Payten Richardson (10 ppg) are all freshman leading the Lady Cardinals in scoring. Bethany Gulick is the lone senior on the team averaging 7.2 points per game. Ashten Kinglsey gives Wilkerson a fourth freshman to lean on at 5 points per game. Hadlock not only leads the team in scoring but sets her teammates up with her 4.4 assists per game. They lack some of the overall schedule difficulty of some of the teams on this list, but this young team has come together by rattling off 11 wins in a row to finish the regular season after starting the year 9-5.
ALSO CONSIDERED: Bradleyville, Cole Camp, Republic, Ozark, Skyline, Clever, New Covenant, West Plains, Eminence