1. Republic, 9-0 (1)
Week in and week out, the Lady Tigers continue to validate their number one ranking. Last week Republic captured the White Division title in the inaugural Pink and White Lady Classic. RepMo, winners of 16 straight dating back to last season, dropped Catholic, Crane, Nixa, and Branson by an average of 26 points. Coach Flood and company hit the road Saturday to take on state-ranked Westminster Christian, before hosting Carthage Monday to open up COC play.
2. Walnut Grove, 10-1 (2)
Walnut Grove has won eight straight games, claiming its own tournament championship last week thanks to a pair of wins over solid Class 3 teams Pleasant Hope and Southwest. The Lady Tigers continue PCL play next week when they visit Hermitage, before welcoming a very good Morrisville team into town for a nonconference game.
3. Ozark, 8-3 (6)
Ozark bounced back from an 18 day hiatus with wins over Hartville, Mount Vernon, and Ash Grove to open the PWLC. Unfortunately, the Lady Tigers continued their trend of runner-up finishes, three this season, when they were defeated 44-41 by Little Rock Hall in the Pink Division title game. Ozark will visit Parkway South on Saturday, before visiting Webb City to open what will be a grueling COC slate.
4. Ash Grove, 11-3 (4)
Typically a team that loses three games in just 10 days is likely to fall in the rankings; however Ash Grove is anything but typical. The Lady Pirates did suffer their first loss of the season when they visited Fair Grove to open Mid-Lakes play. However, that loss was without all-conference junior Lakin Simmerman. Ash Grove then responded by having an impressive run in the PWLC, defeating a pair of Class 4 squads in Marshfield and state-ranked West Plains. Despite dropping its final two contest of the tournament to state-ranked Ozark (Class 5) and Miller Career Academy (Class 4), the Lady Pirates cemented their spot among the areas elite.
5. Crane, 11-3 (10)
The area is loaded in Classes 1 and 2, and the cream of the crop may be the Lady Pirates. Crane has easily played the most challenging preconference schedule, boasting wins over Rogersville, Parkview, and Marionville. Last week Crane went 3-1 in the PWLC, finishing fifth in the White Division. Their one loss came to eventual champion Republic 69-49, in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. The Lady Pirates host Fordland on Friday before hosting Blue Eye to start SWCL play on Monday.
6. Skyline, 11-2 (9)
No team turned more heads last week than the Lady Tigers. Skyline opened the PWLC with wins over Class 5 Willard and Class 4 Hillcrest. The Class 2 Lady Tigers then dropped a pair of solid games against COC foes Branson and Nixa, finishing fourth in the White Division. Despite lacking size, Kevin Cheek’s team makes up for it with their defensive intensity and ability to shoot the basketball. Madi Brethower is one of the best sophomores in the area.
7. West Plains, 11-1 (8)
The Lady Zizzers were 3-1 in the Pink Division of last week’s PWLC, claiming a fifth place finish. Despite a tough loss to Ash Grove, West Plains bounced back with decisive wins over Mount Vernon and Kickapoo. Andi Haney and company are definitely the early favorites to win the Ozark Conference title, and begin that journey on Monday at home against Camdenton, following a visit from Rogersville.
8. Nixa, 11-2 (5)
The Lady Eagles claimed third place in the White Division of last week’s PWLC. However, Nixa was blown out by COC rival Republic in the semifinals, before nearly being upset by Class 2 Skyline in the third place game. Nixa is extremely talented, led by guards Jeana Raper and Tousha Leavitt, but the Lady Eagles must bring it every night to live up to preseason expectations.
9. Webb City, 11-2 (12)
Webb City is also on an eight game winning streak, including the four straight they reeled off last week en route to claiming the Black Division title in the Neosho Tournament. Webb City will host Ozark on Monday to open up its COC slate.
10. Weaubleau, 9-0 (14)
Weaubleau has been one of the most dominant teams in the area during the first half. The unbeaten Lady Tigers have yet to play a game closer than 17 points, and have defeated six of their nine opponents by more than 25. Expect Dana Graves and company to have their first test of the season this week, when they host a tough El Dorado Springs team, before heading out to the Skyline Tournament. The Lady Tigers have won 17 straight at home dating back to 2010.
11. Marionville, 9-4 (3)
The Lady Comets have had a tough go at it as of late. Marionville has dropped three of its last four games, including two to district foe Crane. Things don’t get any easier for Coach Young; his team will visit Clever Thursday before opening Mid-Lakes play next week.
12. Dadeville, 8-0 (7)
Dadeville has been inactive since its Dec. 14 win over Hermitage to open PCL play. The Lady Bearcats will try to knock off nearly three weeks of rust when they visit Fair Play. The jury is still out on Dadeville, as they have yet to be challenged.
13. Morrisville, 10-2 (13)
Last week saw the Lady Panthers drop their first and second game of the season. That’s the bad news… The good news is neither opponent (Little Rock Hall or Kickapoo) will stand in the way of Morrisville and postseason aspirations. However, the schedule doesn’t get any easier next week. Morrisville hosts Buffalo before visiting the top ranked Class 1, Walnut Grove on Tuesday.
Bolivar makes its first appearance in the power rankings this year after an extremely successful 2011-12 campaign that saw them claim a COC title and district runner-up finish. Despite a tough 1-2 start, the Liberators have won seven straight, including claiming the championship in last week’s Lebanon Tournament. Bolivar takes on a tough Nevada team Monday in its first action of the New Year.
15. Southwest (Washburn), 9-2 (15)
Southwest responded nicely to its first loss of the season to Ash Grove on Dec. 17. The Lady Trojans took third place in the Walnut Grove tournament with their sole defeat coming at the hands of the eventual Champs, Walnut Grove 55-52. Despite the great showing, Southwest is still yet to prove itself against an elite team, and likely will not get a chance until district play.
Knockin’ on the door: Seymour (8-2), Chadwick (8-3), Carthage (10-2) Branson (9-5), Blue Eye (8-2), Thayer (7-1), Pleasant Hope (9-3), Sparta (8-2)