SI rates Barron 16th in country

Barron Collier girls basketball coach Mike Hamburger wasn't home when he got the first call from Sports Illustrated Saturday night.

"I thought they were calling about my subscription running out," he said. "I had no idea it would be something like this."

What Sports Illustrated really wanted was some information on his state championship squad. Hamburger called back and gave that information to them and after further research, the magazine called back and told the coach the Cougars would be ranked 16th in the latest Girls High School Basketball Power Rankings, released today. The Cougars knocked off Winter Haven in the Class 5A championship game on Friday. Winter Haven was ranked 13th by Sports Illustrated and 15th by USA Today in last week's rankings.

"There must be tens of thousands of high schools that play basketball and to be ranked 16th in the nation, to me that's the ultimate icing on the cake to what has been an unbelievable season," Hamburger said. "We've played powerhouses over the years and we've always wanted to aspire to reach that level. Now to be ranked in the nation, there will be programs out there that want to be like Barron Collier. How do you really put that in words?"

Senior Karady Gatz said the ranking was the perfect cap to a dream season.

"It's awesome to be ranked in the nation, it's something we've been waiting for the past four years," Gatz said. "I feel like we're getting the recognition we've earned, it's unbelievable."

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