High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Ravenscroft

Montrose Christian rolls past Ravenscroft

March, 29, 2012

BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 2 seed Montrose Christian’s (Rockville, Md.) 64-48 win over No. 7 seed Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) in the quarterfinals of the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep Thursday:

Overview: Montrose Christian, ranked No. 9 in the POWERADE Fab 50, caught fire early, draining three 3-pointers in the first quarter to claim an early 16-7 lead. Montrose forward Justin Anderson had two of his own and ramped up the defensive pressure to help the Mustangs force eight turnovers and keep the Ravens at bay for much of the first half.

Montrose shot 60 percent from the 3-point line in the first half. Then Mustangs went on a 9-0 run midway through the third that devastated Ravenscroft.

The Ravens started forcing tough, contested threes and folding under the Mustangs’ intense defensive pressure.

“We had to get our rhythm back because we hadn’t played in a long time,” said Montrose coach Stu Vetter. “But these guys are strong and they really battled. Our defensive intensity was the difference in the game. We picked up our momentum defensively and that’s what got it done.”

Turning Point: Up just 36-32 midway through the third quarter, Montrose forward Ishmail Wainright caught Yuri Togashi’s missed three off the rim and flushed it with authority, sending the Montrose-heavy crowd into a frenzy. On the next play, the Mustangs forced a turnover and found Anderson in the right corner for the three. Then, after another Ravenscroft turnover, Togashi threw Anderson an alley-oop in transition.

That sequence of events seemed to take the Ravens’ heart.

“Their physicality hurt us,” Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman said. “We’d cut it to four, but then they went on that explosion and that made it really tough for us.”

Key Player: Anderson was a matchup problem for the Ravens all night. When they sagged off he drained threes and when they pushed up on him he drove the lane and made plays. Anderson finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists.

“Justin’s one of the best players in the country,” Vetter said. “I’ve coached a lot of great players and he’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached. I think a lot of people have overlooked him as far as McDonald’s and Jordan All-American games. He’s one of the best players in the country without question.”

Ravenscroft guard Anton Gill drained two 3-pointers in the loss, tying the Ravenscroft record for career 3-pointers at 106, which had been held by Corwin Davis, who starred at Ravenscroft from 1997-2001.

Key Stat: The Ravens shot just 4 of 21 (19 percent) from the 3-point line in their loss. During the regular season they shot 34 percent and broke a school record for 3-pointers made with 138. The old record was 130.

“We haven’t played a game in 32 days,” Billerman said. “We’ve only had seven practices over that time so that’s rough. We had good looks, but we just couldn’t get them to fall.”

Up Next: The Mustangs will face No. 3 seed Montverde (Fla.) Friday (11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2) in the semifinals. Montverde, ranked No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50, knocked off La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) 62-54 Thursday in the quarterfinals.

“They’re a great team,” Wainright said of Montverde. “They really play hard, and I’m looking forward to playing against them.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

NHSI preview: Ravenscroft

March, 22, 2012
Team: No. 7 seed Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 31-3, NR (No. 19 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Kevin Billerman (12th year at school, 279-70 career record

Key Players:

Madison Jones
Jones initiates the Ravens’ offense and brings a gritty, tough element that becomes infectious as the game progresses. Jones averages 16.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals per game and serves as the team’s vocal leader on the floor. “He’s a true point guard and he just controls our team in all areas,” Billerman said. “He’s a great leader.”

Anton Gill
Gill is a freak of an athlete and, at 6-foot-4, will have one of the best high-wire acts at the NHSI. Gill, a Louisville commit, averages 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. When the Ravens are in need of a bucket to break a scoring drought, Gill is the player whose number Billerman typically calls.

Marcus Bryan
Bryan, a 6-foot-8 center, is the Ravens’ low post presence and averages 14.3 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Bryan is versatile enough to step out and consistently knock down the 17-footer, making him a tough draw for most opposing big men.

Road to NHSI:

Ravenscroft knocked off North Carolina powerhouse Christ School (Arden, N.C.) twice in convincing fashion and also won the High School OT Holiday Invitational in December. In that tournament the Ravens knocked off Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) and United Faith (Charlotte, N.C.). Ravenscroft also knocked off Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.) to claim the state title.

“We beat all of the top private school teams in our state,” Billerman said. “The guys really stepped up and met every challenge.”

Inside Scoop:

The Ravens lockup defensively and are almost always hounding the opposition with a suffocating man-to-man set. Offensively, the Ravens remain in attack mode at all times whether it’s pushing the ball up the court in transition or running one of the 16 plays in the halfcourt set.

“With Anton and Madison scoring a lot of points, obviously, we shoot a lot of jump shots,” Billerman said. “Both of them are very smart players and they pick their spots well.”

The Ravens average 71 points per game.

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Field set for boys' teams at NHSI

March, 8, 2012
The fourth annual ESPNHS National High School Invitational, set for March 29-31 at Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.), is highlighted by the return of previous champions among the eight-team boys' field.

Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), which won the inaugural event in 2009 and repeated as champions in 2010, is a slight favorite to win this year's NHSI title. The No. 2 ranked team in the POWERADE FAB 50 is not a prohibitive favorite because the field of talented teams -- including No. 10 St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.), and No. 11 and defending NHSI champion Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) -- includes the only team to beat the Pilots this season.

That team is No. 25 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), which made national headlines in late December by defeating Findlay Prep 67-66 at the Mike Miller Invitational in South Dakota. The Lakers jumped on the Pilots early and went up 18 points before holding on at the end. This will be the first opportunity for La Lumiere to play on national television and show the country the win over Findlay Prep was no fluke.

"I think we feel like we got something to prove," La Lumiere coach Allan Huss said. "What you'll see is a hungry group. We might be a little sloppy right off the bat from the layoff, but we have some guys who, individually, think they don't get the recognition they deserve."

Since many of the participating teams don't compete for state championships, there will be sizable layoffs before quarterfinal play begins on March 29 at 2 p.m. ET (ESPNU). For instance, No. 14 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), the 2010 NHSI runner-up, concluded its regular season on Feb. 4.

The one team that might have an advantage in this area is St. Benedict's Prep, which will compete against a tough field at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational in Frostburg, Md., March 15-17. That tournament should be a good test for the level of competition the Gray Bees could face should they advance past the first round. If they lose at Alhambra, it will likely affect the seedings for this year's NHSI, which will be announced the week of March 19.

No. 16 Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) will be a dangerous public school entrant and could be a dark horse to win it all, if last year is any indication. At the 2011 NHSI, Florida Class 5A state champ Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) upset Findlay Prep in the first round as a No. 6 seed behind a memorable performance by Jacoby Brissett, currently the starting quarterback at Florida. Ely is currently ranked in the same spot as Dwyer was entering last year's tournament and the Class 7A state champ Tigers will enter the NHSI battle-tested. Led by forward Clide Geffrard, Ely's only two losses are to No. 13 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Montverde Academy.

Rounding out the field is North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champion Ravenscroft and District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association champion Coolidge (Washington, D.C.). Coolidge will take on No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) for the city title on March 20. Win or lose, you can't count them out against this NHSI field. After all, they did hand Montrose Christian one of its two regular season losses.

Regardless of how the brackets play out, this year's NHSI has a tough act to follow. In last year's championship game, Montrose Christian defeated Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in double overtime 71-64.

"It's always good to get another chance to repeat," said Montrose Christian's Justin Anderson, whose last second 3-pointer sent last year's title game into a second overtime. "It's not the same team we had last year, so I want to put our heads together and lead my team to another title."

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Ravenscroft claims the High School OT title

December, 31, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – Madison Jones had the foresight to have the hindsight.

He knew that when he and his Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) teammates’ highly anticipated matchup against Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) ended in a comfortable eight-point win on Nov. 18, Wesleyan would have extra motivation the second time around, especially with the High School OT Holiday Invitational title on the line.

“It’s something that we talked about coming in,” Jones said. “We didn't want to look back and say we should've been more prepared. We knew that they would be ready to get us back, so we knew that we’d have to continue to play our game but also match their intensity.”

They did.

Ravenscroft used a second-half swarm of defensive pressure to knock off Wesleyan Christian 53-44 Friday at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C.

It was the Ravens’ second consecutive High School OT title.

Marcus Bryan led Ravenscroft with 18 points and nine rebounds while Anton Gill and Jones chipped in with 14 and 12.

Jaquel Richmond led Wesleyan with 23 points.

“We just came out and played our game,” said Gill, a Louisville commit who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. “We really locked up defensively in the second half. That was the biggest difference from the first half. Their guards were knocking down shots early, but we made the adjustment.”

Early on it was the Trojans that adjusted.

After falling down 9-0, Wesleyan used the hot hand of Richmond to put together a 24-14 run and claim a 24-23 lead at the half.

Richmond scored 15 points and the Trojans drained 50 percent of their 3-pointers during the run.

“They have three great perimeter players and they were hitting shots with hands in their faces,” said Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman. “We were playing really well defensively, and I knew that if we just stayed aggressive on the defensive end, good things would happen.”

Billerman was right.

The Trojans shot just 28 percent in the third quarter and fell behind by as many as 10 points, a deficit they couldn’t find the firepower to recover from.

With the win the Ravens became just the third team in the tournament’s 40-year history to repeat as champs.

“Just to be a part of history is great,” Jones said. “We did it with the same team and that made it even more special.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN.

Purvis, Gill set on protecting home court

December, 28, 2011
Rodney PurvisCourtesy of NBPARodney Purvis and Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) will take advantage of their hometown advantage at the High School OT Holiday Invitational this week.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In his four years at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), Rodney Purvis has lost just 10 home games.

That’s pretty remarkable by most standards, but for Purvis it’s 10 too many.

“I’m such a competitor and I hate, I mean haaate to lose,” said Purvis, who is ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 100. “But it’s different when you lose at home. It’s like you almost feel violated. Like someone came in and stole something that was yours. I can’t have that.”

It’s the mindset Purvis hopes propels he and the Eagles to the High School OT Holiday Invitational title this week at Broughton High School (Raleigh, N.C.).

Upper Room will face Body of Christ Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) in the first round on Dec. 28 at 5:40 p.m. ET. The championship will commence Dec. 30 at 9 p.m. ET.

“The tournament is in Raleigh and that’s my city,” said Purvis, a North Carolina State signee. “There are teams from around the state and the country that are playing in this tournament, but we feel like, being from here, it’s a home game for us so same rules apply. We’ve got to protect our home court.”

Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) guard Anton Gill can relate.

Last year he led the Ravens to the High School OT title with a 57-52 win over Middle Creek (Apex, N.C.). The Ravens knocked off Greenfield (Wilson, N.C.), 68-54, in their opener and will play the winner of St. Mark's (Southborough, Mass.) and United Faith (Charlotte, N.C.) on Dec. 29 at 5:40 p.m. ET.

“It’s definitely more motivation to win when you’re playing at home,” said Gill, a junior who recently committed to Louisville. “We definitely treat this tournament just like it’s our home gym, but I prepare for games the same way. It’s all about the win, no matter the situation because you tend to remember losses a lot longer.”

Purvis agreed.

He recalled watching his “big brothers” from Word of God Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Dezmine Wells (Xavier) fall to Christ School (Arden, N.C.) in the High School OT title game in 2008.

“I just remember John and Dez being so mad about losing that game,” Purvis said. “That really stuck with them because not only did they lose, they lost in their own city to an out of town school. I don’t want to feel that.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN