The seemingly impossible has happened.
FULL RANKINGS: Super 25 Girls Basketball Rankings
A second-year team, coming off a 14-15 opening season, New Hope Academy (Landover Hills, Md.) is the USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25 National Champion.
At GEICO Nationals over the weekend, the Tigers took down the top two teams in the Super 25, Miami Country Day School (Fla.) and St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.).
They did so by forcing MCDS’ driving force, Maria Alvarez, into early foul trouble and grabbing a lead. Then, against St. John’s, the Tigers limited ALL-USA Player of the Year Azzi Fudd to just 14 points.
New Hope Academy, which finished 40-3, had one of the tougher schedules in the country, according to MaxPreps. These wins including strong opponents such as Christ the King, Regis Jesuit, Riverdale Baptist, Salesian Prep and St. Frances.
The team made up for its losses, too. The Tigers fell to Bishop McNamara during the season but defeated them in the championship. They lost to MCDS by one in overtime in December, but beat them in the opening round of the GEICO Nationals. The other loss, to a Cedar Hill team that has been ranked during the season, was game two of a two-game day.
New Hope Academy made its case as a great team during the season. It proved it was the best at GEICOs.
Meanwhile, MCDS dropped one spot to No. 2 and St. John’s fell to No. 3. While St. John’s made it to the GEICO championship game and MCDS lost, St. John’s beat Centennial (Las Vegas) by just one possession in the opening round and then lost to the same New Hope team that took down MCDS.
More importantly, MCDS defeated St. John’s earlier this season and had a tougher strength of schedule (28.9) than SJC (27.3). After being ranked No. 1 for most of the year, the Spartans ended at No. 2. The St. John’s Cadets are No. 3.
Africentric (Columbus, Ohio), who was unable to play in the GEICO Nationals due to OHSAA rules, lands at no. 4 after going undefeated behind ALL-USA First Team guard Jordan Horston.
Rounding out the top five is Centennial, who went 31-2, won its fifth-straight championship and outscored opponents — excluding its 63-61 loss at to SJC at GEICOs — by an average of 42 points, according to the Las Vegas Sun.