Note: All records are through Feb. 9
1. Ardrey Kell (20-2)
Previous ranking: No. 1
The Knights snapped a 17-game win streak with a 54-52 overtime loss to Berry on Feb. 2, proving they are human. Ardrey Kell’s depth is what has carried them this far, and they have two games – against Olympic and Jay M. Robinson – left in the regular season. The Knights should take care of both and enter the conference and state tournaments as the team to beat in the 4A ranks.
2. South Meck (17-4)
Previous ranking: No. 2
The Sabres snapped a four-game win streak with a one-point loss to Ardrey Kell on Jan.26, but showed great resilience in a double overtime win over Berry four days later. Most recently the Sabres blitzed Harding, winning 67-29 on Feb. 2 behind 18 points and six rebounds from Shariah Gaddy; 14 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists from Shakyra Harley; and 12 and eight rebounds from A’Leah Gilbert. The Sabres close the regular season with West Meck, Charlotte Catholic and Providence as they look to reach 20 wins for the first time in more than a decade.
3. Providence Day (21-6)
Previous ranking: No. 3
Once the calendar turns to February, the Chargers typically gear up into championship mode and this season appears no different. They have won 14 of 16, and despite losing their first conference game in 110 games dating back to 2004, they are gearing up for their ninth consecutive state championship and 13th title in the past 14 years. To do so, star senior guard Kennedy Boyd will need to continue to get help from Andi Levitz, Nina Simone-Clark, El Ferguson, M’Leia Owens and Kailey Smith – all of whom are freshmen or sophomores but are all capable of big games.
4. Myers Park (15-7)
Previous ranking: 6
Veteran coach Barbara Nelson only produces winning teams, and this year is obviously no exception. The Mustangs started this season with a 6-6 record, but have won nine of 10, gone 10-2 in the Southwestern 4A and turned themselves into a team made to make a run in the playoffs. The Mustangs snapped an eight-game win streak with a 74-41 loss to Hickory Ridge (20-1 and 10-0 in Southwestern 4A), but rebounded with a convincing 50-22 win over East Meck.
5. Charlotte Latin (16-7)
Previous ranking: not ranked
Once the Hawks got superstar Claudia Dickey back from injury, their fortunes changed for the better as they turned from an enigma to the team that ended Providence Day’s 110-game conference win streak. They have won eight straight, are 7-1 in league play and tied for the conference title behind Dickey, Kathryn Vandiver and Ruthie Jones who all average double figures in points. The Hawks play Charlotte Christian and Cannon, teams with a combined 7-34 record, to close the season, so should finish no later than tied for their first conference crown in more than a decade.
6. Butler (14-8)
Previous ranking: No. 4
The Bulldogs have lost two of their past three – albeit to conference leaders Hickory Ridge and Myers Park, who they fell to by just a point – but have secured the No. 3 seed in the Southwestern 4A standings. Still, the Bulldogs have won seven of their previous 10 games. With double-double machine Michela Lane and sharpshooters Renee Kennedy, Destiny Lewis and Payton Sutton in every game, they have become a team capable of hanging with anyone as the playoffs approach.
7. Independence (13-9)
Previous ranking: No. 6
The Patriots have made major strides this season, but have gone just 3-3 over their previous six games. They hung with Myers Park, losing by just four points, but proved they aren’t quite ready to play with the heavyweights of the conference as they were blasted by Hickory Ridge, losing 85-19, and were blown out by Butler, falling 61-36 to the Bulldogs. They rebounded with their most recent win, a 61-10 road win over Garinger.
Dropped out: Providence (12-9)
Also receiving votes: Providence (12-9)