GIECO Nationals: Preview the 4 girls basketball teams competing for the championship

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Four of the best girls basketball teams in the country, including the top two teams in MaxPreps’ rankings, will be displaying their prowess at the GEICO Nationals this week.

McDonogh (Md.), Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.), Westtown (Penn.) and Montverde Academy (Fla.) will vie for the prestigious championship on March 31 and April 1, with the opening games taking place on Friday.

Between those four teams, nine players are ranked on ESPN’s lists for the classes of 2023 and 2024.

Here is a quick rundown of the teams ahead of the game action.

Find the GEICO Nationals schedule here. Read the boys GEICO Nationals basketball tournament preview here.

Montverde Academy

Montverde Academy
Record: 24-1
MaxPreps ranking: 1

Montverde hasn’t just dominated — the Eagles have dismantled their very good competition. Eighteen of their 25 games have come against teams with at least 20 wins, and Montverde won 17 of them. They finished the season ranked No. 1 on MaxPreps in no small part because they took down Long Island Lutheran, the only head-to-head matchup between any of these four GEICO teams during the season.

Montverde has four players ranked on ESPN, including Baylor commit Letycia Vasconcelos, South Carolina commit Sahnya Jah, Mississippi State commit Mjracle Sheppard and 2024 star Vivian Iwuchukwu. The group is fearsome and will not relinquish their No. 1 spot easily.

Long Island Lutheran

Long Island Lutheran
Record: 21-2
MaxPreps ranking: 2

Long Island Lutheran had just as brutal a schedule as Montverde, and the Crusaders came away nearly as unblemished. They had 14 wins against teams with more than 20 wins, and their only two losses were to the aforementioned Eagles and to 32-1 St. John Vianney. If LuHi can win this tournament, they will be able to convincingly say they are the best team in the country.

They’ll arrive with star talent at the ready. Five-star Kate Koval was the Gatorade New York Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and four-star Kayleigh Heckel is among the top players in the class of 2024. Syla Swords, who is representing Canada on the World Select Team at the Nike Hoop Summit, is also among the tournament’s best players.

McDonogh

McDonogh
Record: 23-2
MaxPreps ranking: 25

The back-to-back Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions will look to prove their mettle as the top team of the region and the country. McDonogh has been largely unstoppable since going 8-0 in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, racking up a combined record of 45-6 in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

The IAAM all-conference team was essentially McDonogh players, with Anaiah Jenkins, four-star players Kennedy Ume and Paris Locke, and Wake Forest commit Makaela Quimby on the list. That star-studded group is also aided by 2024 Maryland commit Ava McKennie. With this deep pool of talent, the Eagles will hope to make their mark on the GEICO Nationals.

Westtown

Westtown
Record: 21-4
MaxPreps ranking: Unranked

Westtown’s ridiculous point differential this season of 1,780-983 was both more points scored than any of the other three teams in this tournament and fewer points allowed than the others. Fifteen times their defense held opponents to below 40 points; five times, their opponents failed to score more than 20 points. If Westtown is to do damage in this tournament, it would likely be on the back of that defensive effort.

Westtown had five girls on the Friends Schools League all-first team: three-star Delaware commit Grace Sundback, Seton Hall commit Joniyah Bland Fitzpatrick, Zahra King, Savannah Curry and Jordyn Palmer. Keep an eye on Palmer, an eighth-grader with multiple 30-plus-point games this season. She has handled herself glowingly against older competition all season; if she can do the same here, Westtown could make some noise.

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