January 12, 2011

Hoophall hosts nation's best teams

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With nearly a quarter century of elite-level basketball coaching experience under his belt, if Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith says an event is the best he has ever been involved in, it speaks volumes.

The high praise is exactly what he gave to the 10th annual Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., which is set to tip-off Friday afternoon.

"I don't know any other (event) that rivals this," Smith told MassLive.com. "The last few years, nobody has the number of top teams that the Hoophall has. I don't even think it is close now."

With 16 teams currently ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 and four others that were either previously ranked or receiving consideration for rankings, it is certainly hard to argue the volume of quality teams.

The event will play host to five of the Top Ten teams nationally, including Oak Hill, which is the current RivalsHigh No. 1.

"We're 15-0 and I think we're ranked No. 1 in every high school poll. We are hoping to continue that," Smith told MassLive.

Oak Hill, which began the year as the No. 6 team nationally, will take on the No.11-ranked Milton (Ga.) High as the game of the day on Saturday. The game will tip-off at 8 p.m. ET and be televised nationally.

Smith said that his team needs these kinds of games mid-season.

"(Tournament director) Greg (Procino) gets a good game for us," he said. "At that time of year, to play a team of the caliber we're going to play up there and then to get to go to the Hall of Fame. It all ties in."

RivalsHigh, with its media partner MassLive.com, will have complete coverage all weekend.

2011 Hoophall Classic games involving ranked teams
No. 70 Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft vs. Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High
When:: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Taft enters the event as the No. 70 team nationally, but is a mere five points from being higher. The team's two losses were a 77-75 setback to Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward and a 61-58 loss at the hands of Corona (Calif.) Centennial on back-to-back nights. Led by 6-10 senior center Kevin Johnson, Taft can give teams fits. Mount Vernon is still relatively early into its season, playing just five games. Its win over perennial Philadelphia power Neumann & Goretti provides some legitimacy to its early season campaign.
No. 2 Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony vs. No. 9 Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
A Top Ten showdown on Saturday afternoon is a fantastic game between traditional hoop powers with some big-name recruits. For St. Anthony, Myles Mack at the guard position will be going at it against four-star power forward Mikael Hopkins and a very talented DeMatha team.
No. 66 Seattle (Wash.) Garfield vs. Chicago (Ill.) Morgan Park
When: Saturday, 5:45 p.m. ET
Proving this event goes coast-to-coast, one of the best from as far West as you can get will be taking on a team that was a preseason nationally-ranked team from one of the nation's hotbeds. Scoring threat Tony Wroten leads Garfield into the spotlight game against small forward Wayne Blackshear of Morgan Park. The two may be matched-up against one another and the spotlight will certainly shine on the two leading their teams.
No. 1 Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill vs. No. 11 Milton (Ga.) High
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
The game between Oak Hill and Milton likely will be the biggest test remaining for Oak Hill to its national title. The Warriors already have knocked off five ranked teams this season - and will still have two more games with nationally recognized opponents - but none better than what Milton can provide in opposition. Milton still has the sting of a 10-point loss to Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove on its mind and has played much better since. Despite losing by two points to Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick, the squad has proved elite and this could be a make-good game for the team.
No. 90 Southborough (Mass.) St. Mark's vs. Burlington (N.J.) Life Center Academy
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. ET
St. Mark's is paced by three outstanding junior players, forward Alex Murphy, guard Nick Stauskas and 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski. And while this team already has arrived nationally, it could be a contender for much higher rankings as the season progresses and certainly next year. Life Center will try to push the pace with Ohio State commit LaQuinton Ross and Pittsburgh-bound John Johnson.
No. 6 Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep vs. Barrington (R.I.) St. Andrew's
When: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
For basketball fans who rely on the name on the front of the jersey, this should be a mismatch of games. But if you dig deeper, St. Andrew's may be an excellent game for Findlay Prep. The Rhode Island private school has come into its own with a win over DeMatha, a one-point loss to St. Mark's and a win over Oakland (Calif.) High. Findlay Prep has won a national championship and was a late season contender for another. The team already has suffered two setbacks this season and is looking to get back on the winning track coming off a loss to nationally ranked Portsmouth (Va.) Norcom.
No. 33 DeWitt (N.Y.) Jamesville-DeWitt vs. St. Louis (Mo.) Webster Groves
When: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET
This should be a showcase game for Jamesville-DeWitt center DaJuan Coleman. The 6-foot-8 post player is one of the best junior players nationally and has pushed the Red Rams to an undefeated start to the season and could be a player for a Top 25 national finish.
No. 49 Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King vs. High Point (N.C.) Westchester Country Day
When: Monday, 11 a.m. ET
Westchester Country Day was to be among the best teams nationally this season but has stumbled into five losses already this year. The team has three top level prospects but - with little injuries and inconsistent shooting - has not fulfilled on the promise. Christ the King is a traditional New York power and with two middle-tier prospects at the guard spots (T.J Curry and Corey Edwards), it can give teams a tough matchup problem.
No. 4 Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick vs. No. 69 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
When: Monday, 1 p.m.
It is not clear which team is the favorite in New Jersey at this point. With St. Anthony and St. Patrick both on the floor this weekend, it will be good to size the two up against good competition at the same time. Bishop Gorman will provide a solid opponent for St. Patrick. The teams are very close in talent but St. Patrick is the more experienced group as Gorman is lead by a trio of juniors: Shabazz Muhammad, Rosco Allen and Ben Carter.
No. 6 Findlay Prep vs. No. 18 Dallas (Texas) Lincoln
When: Monday, 3 p.m. ET
Findlay Prep will take the court for a second time in the tournament and this time against one of the best in Texas. The cameras will be rolling as Findlay's trio of stars (Myck Kobongo, Nick Johnson and Amir Garrett) will be taking on Keaton Miules, Kyron Criner and one of the nation's best in LeBryan Nash. The winner of this game will have earned it.
No. 32 Brooklyn (N.Y.) Boys & Girls vs. No. 75 Bryn Athyn (Pa.) Academy of the New Church
When: Monday, 5 p.m. ET
A newcomer to the national scene, Academy of the New Church already has three monster wins on its resume defeating Findlay Prep, St. Mark's and Norfolk Christian. A puzzling loss to Wynnewoode (Pa.) Friends' Central leaves lingering questions as to the focus for all games and not just big games. Boys & Girls will enter the game confident with its pair of combo guards, 6-foot-5 small forward Leroy Fludd and 6-foot-5 shooting guard Jeff Neverson.


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