High-SchoolFlorida: POWERADE FAB 50

Florida Weekly Baseball Rankings: Jesuit falls

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
7:01
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Another week, another Florida team dropped from the No. 1 spot in the national POWERADE FAB 50. Last week it was Olympia that fell, suffering its first loss of the season to eventual Class 8A state champ Spruce Creek. Jesuit assumed pole position in the state and national rankings, but the Tigers fell to Plantation American Heritage, the eventual state champ in 6A, in the state semis last week.

Florida's new No. 1, Bishop Verot, will take on Monsignor Pace in the Class 4A semifinals on Wednesday. If the Vikings can prevail in that game and again on Thursday in the final, they'll finish tops in the state and top 3 in the nation, with an outside chance at a national championship. Plantation American Heritage, Pensacola Catholic and Jesuit could all conceivably finish in the top 10.

Here's how this week's top five shakes out (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1 (2) Bishop Verot, 28-2
Bishop Verot was off last week and will take on Monsignor Pace (Miami) in the Class 4A state semifinals on Wednesday.

2 (3) Plantation American Heritage, 27-4
After their 3-0 win in eight innings over previous FAB 50 No. 1 Jesuit (Tampa) in the Class 5A state semifinals, the Patriots blanked Ponte Vedra 9-0 in the Class 5A state final. Zach Collins' grand slam sparked the offense, while Alex Seibold allowed only one hit in a six-inning stint.

3 (1) Jesuit, 28-2
The Tigers fell to No. 2 American Heritage 3-0 in eight innings in the Class 5A state semifinals. Jesuit managed just one hit off American Heritage pitcher Shaun Anderson, while its own ace, Lance McCullers Jr., didn't allow a run in six innings of work.

4 (4) Pensacola Catholic, 25-3
The Crusaders were idle last week and will play Bishop Moore (Orlando) in the Class 4A state semifinals on Wednesday.

5 (7) Spruce Creek, 28-4
The Hawks won their first state title with a 7-1 Class 8A finals' win over Miami Columbus and ended season on an 11-game win streak. Griffin Fuller (9-1) got the win with six strong innings on the mound. This is the team that earlier won regional title with upset of national FAB 50 No. 1 Olympia.

Click here for the full POWERADE Florida Weekly Baseball Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 20 teams.

Fla. region final marred by sucker punch

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
5:15
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ESPN760.com in Florida has a story complete with video on an incident between the St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and St. Andrew's (Boca Raton, Fla.) lacrosse teams on Tuesday.

Read More »

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Armwood

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
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Alvin BaileyKynon Codrington/ESPNHSArmwood (Seffner, Fla.) junior Alvin Bailey accounted for three touchdowns in the Class 6A state final against Miami Central (Miami) to help lead the Hawks to their third state title.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation this fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer Archive

This week’s team: Armwood (Seffner, Fla.)

2011 Season: 15-0, Class 6A state champion, No. 2 in final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 25. This team’s positioning could be negatively impacted if harsh sanctions are handed down by the Florida High School Athletic Association at the conclusion of an ongoing investigation about the residency of players on last year’s team. On the field, the Hawks are loaded with returning players at the skill positions, but they will need to replace numerous top linemen. Armwood doesn’t have as much back overall as other Florida teams like Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) or Miami Central (Miami), which is the team Armwood beat to win its state title. But coach Sean Callahan is a proven winner and those skill players are special.

Team Strengths: There aren’t many teams in the nation that will have a dynamic duo like Leon McQuay III and Alvin Bailey. McQuay, who’s No. 34 in the ESPN 150, is a ball-hawking safety. He also could see more time on offense next season. Meanwhile, Bailey is No. 49 in the ESPN 150. He caught six passes for 112 yards and one score when Armwood beat FAB 50 No. 8 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 20-17 last year, handing the Gaels their only loss. He later switched to quarterback due to injuries and is expected to be back at wideout as a senior. Quarterback Darryl Richardson could be another strength while upcoming sophomore Keylaun Edwards could be another game-breaker. Edwards, who is the younger brother of graduating starter Wade Edwards, joined his brother as well as McQuay and Bailey as part of Armwood’s school-record-breaking 4x100 relay team. On defense, two leading tacklers who should return will be linebacker Warren Williams and defensive back Antonio McCullough.

Another Florida team to watch: We’ve already written up Manatee in this series and don’t want to do just a few sentences about another potential powerhouse like Miami Central or Plant (Tampa, Fla.), Armwood’s big local rival. So we’ll focus on a Tampa that could surprise in Wharton. The Wildcats were 6-6 last year, appeared in the Class 8A playoffs and will be led by receiver-cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, the No. 4 recruit in the ESPN 150. In addition to Hargreaves, Wharton will return most of its roster, including 6-foot-6 sophomore quarterback Chase Litton (2,056 yards, 10 touchdowns) and leading tackler Rocky Enos.

Weekly baseball rankings: Florida has nation's top 3 teams

April, 17, 2012
4/17/12
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Florida now fields the nation's top three teams in the POWERADE FAB 50. Olympia still has yet to lose, while Jesuit and Nova look dominant against top-notch competition.

The top 10 remains the same this week, albeit in a slightly adjusted order: Miami Columbus and Bishop Verot simply switch spots after divergent weeks. Eustis, Bishop Kenny and Martin County enter the top 20 for the first time, but the teams they replace — Sarasota, Park Vista and Gulliver Prep — are still very much state contenders considering all the talent they possess.

The top five looks like this (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1 (1) Olympia, 23-0
The nation's top-ranked team kept on adding to its perfect record season with home-and-away wins over West Orange. The regular season wraps up this week before Class 8A district play starts.

2 (2) Jesuit, 21-1
A 10-0 romp in the finals over Bishop McLaughlin gave the Tigers the title in their own Jesuit Easter Tournament. They have a matchup this week against perennial power Sarasota.

3 (3) Nova, 19-1
Florida's top-ranked Class 7A team added three wins last week. One regular season game remains this week before district play starts.

4 (4) Pensacola Catholic, 20-1
Triumphs last week against Niceville and Walton pushed the Crusader win streak to 17 games.

5 (7) Bishop Verot, 22-2
After avenging an earlier loss to rival Fort Myers with a 7-6 win last week, the Vikings get a strong boost in this week's rankings. Their other winning scores last week were 17-4 and 10-5.

Click here for the full POWERADE Florida Weekly Baseball Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 20 teams.

Findlay steals NHSI title from Montverde

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Anthony Bennett knew it all along.

While everyone else had written him and top-seeded Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) off after falling behind by as many as 18 points late in the second half to No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational title game, Bennett knew it was only a matter of time before the Pilots turned the tables.

With 1.2 seconds left in overtime, Bennett tipped Eagles’ forward Patricio Garino’s inbounds pass out of bounds, clapped his hands together and yelled to the stands, “We ain’t losing fam! We ain’t losing!”

Bennett was right.

Findlay (32-1) managed an improbable comeback late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually steal an 86-83 win over the Eagles (23-3) to claim the ESPNHS NHSI title Saturday at Georgetown Prep, in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN.

It was the Pilots’ third ESPNHS NHSI title in four years. Findlay, which is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

Brandon Ashley led the Pilots with 31 points, while Nigel Williams-Goss added 17 and Bennett, the tournament's MVP, chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kasey Hill led Montverde with 23 points and six assists.

“I pulled out everything motivational that I could,” Findlay coach Michael Peck said. “I tried everything, but at some point their switch went on and they got it done. It was all them. It was all them.”

Added Ashley: “This was the best way to go out. We fought hard and we got it done. We never got down or hung our heads. We always believed in ourselves and we got it done, man. We got it done.”

In the first half it was the Eagles who were getting it done, dominating Findlay in all aspects and claiming a 38-29 lead. Findlay’s big four -- Bennett, Ashley, Dominic Artis and Winston Shepard -- combined to shoot just 5 of 17 in the first half.

The Eagles continued to pour it on in the third quarter, beating the Pilots to loose balls, owning the offensive glass and beating them in transition. Michael Frazier made Findlay pay for switching to a 2-3 zone, draining three of the Eagles’ four third-quarter threes to extend the Eagles’ lead 54-39 headed into the fourth.

That’s when Ashley came alive.

He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, overpowering Montverde’s frontcourt in the paint. Ashley drained two free throws with 20.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.

“Brandon Ashley put the cape on,” Peck said. “He was the Brandon he was supposed to be.”

Montverde coach Kevin Boyle pointed out the fact that the Pilots lived at the free throw line late in the game. The Pilots made 24 of 27 free throws in the second half.

“They got a lot of calls and they were living on the line,” Boyle said. “So that means they’re scoring without the clock moving. They fought hard, but I thought they got a lot of whistles too.”

Late in overtime, Williams-Goss hit a floater to give the Pilots an 84-83 lead, then Shepard corralled a miss from Hill, got fouled and made both free throws to secure the win.

“This was pretty fun,” Ashley said. “It’s been a lot this week with McDonald’s All-American Game and this tournament, but we got it done. This was the best way to go out. Better than I ever imagined it.”

Star points Artis, Hill clash for NHSI title

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
7:02
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Dominica Artis and Kasey HillJoe Faraoni/ESPN ImagesMontverde coach Kevin Boyle said he wants Kasey Hill, right, to play "more cocky" and sees an NHSI matchup with Findlay point guard Dominic Artis as the perfect opportunity to up his on-court swag.


BETHESDA, Md. -- Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) coach Kevin Boyle likes his point guards to have a certain pizzazz.

After 23 years at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), Boyle became accustomed to guards like Kyrie Irving, Shaheen Holloway and Dexter Strickland, who were so dominant it was hard not to have an on-court swagger about them.

That’s where he wants his current floor general Kasey Hill to get mentally.

“This kid’s so humble and nice,” Boyle said of Hill. “I almost want him to be a little cocky on the court. That’s something that he’s developing now so I like for him to play in games or against guys that help with that.”

Hill will get a key opportunity to build that bravado when he and the No. 3 seed Eagles face No. 1 seed Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and dynamic point guard Dominic Artis Saturday (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational boys' title game.

Findlay, which is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, is going for its third NHSI title (2009, 2010) in four years. The Pilots beat Montverde, which is ranked No. 12, 59-46 to claim the title in 2010.

“I’m looking forward to matching up against Dominic, for sure,” Hill said. “I don’t know if that’ll make me more cocky. I’m just not that kind of player, but it’d definitely give me even more confidence playing well against a big-time player like that.”

Artis, a senior who is signed to Oregon, is the No. 8 point guard in the ESPNU 100. Boyle referred to him as “Findlay’s head.”

“If you can cut off the head then you’ve got a real shot, you know,” Boyle said. “Kasey’s a great defender and he’ll have his hands full with Dominic, but Kasey’s more than capable of being a lockdown defender against anyone.”

Hill certainly proved that in the semifinal win over Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), last year’s NHSI champ. He held Mustangs star forward Justin Anderson, a senior who is signed to Virginia, to just one field goal and three points.

“I really try and go hard on defense,” said Hill, a junior who is the No. 3 point guard in the ESPNU 60. “Some guys rest on defense, but I go hard on both ends. I’ll definitely do that tomorrow against Dominic.”

Despite Boyle’s hope for Hill to use the matchup with Artis as a way to build a court-conceited mentality, Artis was quick to point out that, “I’m not the guy people make a name off of.”

“But either way, Kasey’s a great player,” Artis said. “He’s gonna be tough to stop, but we’ll do it together as a team. That’s the best way to stop a player like him.”

Through two games Hill is averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 assists. Artis is averaging 13 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals.

Findlay coach Mike Peck coached Hill at the freshman All-American Camp in Lexington, Ky., back in 2010 and said that Hill reminded him of a young Rod Strickland, the former All-NBA point guard who averaged 13.2 points and 7.3 assists over 17 years.

“He’s shifty and he’s got a great feel for the game,” Peck said of Hill. “One thing he’s gotten a lot better at is his ability to shoot it. Obviously he’s having a great tournament here, so he’ll be a handful, there’s no question.”

Peck said that the Pilots would employ the same “elbow block” defensive scheme on Hill that they used against Irving in 2010 when they beat St. Patrick 71-70 at the Hoophall Classic.

“Basically any time Kasey has the ball, the strong-side elbow or block needs to be occupied,” Peck said. “That way if he gets by his man, which he’s good at, the help is right there. Sometimes that will discourage a guy from challenging that first line of defense.”

Artis doesn’t anticipate Hill being discouraged by any defensive scheme the Pilots throw his way.

“I know how great point guards think, and I know that whatever another team tries to throw at me won’t matter," said Artis. "I’m still gonna do my thing. That’s my mentality, and I know that Kasey probably thinks that same way.”

Good guess.

Hill initially downplayed the matchup against Artis, but later admitted that a strong showing against him and the Pilots would “be a win for everyone.”

“Of course I can’t wait to play against a guy like Dominic,” Hill said. “We’re both competitive, and I know we’ll both bring it. I want to play well because it will help my team win a national championship. That’s what’s most important. I know that everything else that comes with that will be a good opportunity for me, too.”

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.

Montverde squeaks past Montrose Christian

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 3 seed Montverde’s (Fla.) 50-47 win over No. 2 seed Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) in the semifinals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep on Friday:

Overview: The Eagles, who are ranked No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50, had to adjust to Montrose’s frantic defensive pressure, but when they figured it out, they made the Mustangs pay by moving the ball around and finding the open man. Michael Frazier knocked down two threes to ignite an early 8-0 run and put the Eagles ahead after falling behind 4-0. Still, neither team could do much to separate itself in the first half. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Eagles’ duo of Frazier and Kasey Hill, who led the Eagles with 20 points, started to really expose Montrose’s overzealous defensive scheme. That led to a 12-point Montverde lead headed into the fourth. The Mustangs, who are ranked No. 9 in the FAB 50, stormed back in the fourth quarter and took their first lead, 41-40, with 2:11 left in regulation on Michael Carrera’s putback layup. Down the stretch, Hill came up with big buckets to give the Eagles a cushion. Mustangs forward Justin Anderson’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer missed off the back of the rim and the Eagles marched on. Montrose won the ESPNHS NHSI last year, a double-overtime thriller over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).

“They just couldn’t score in the halfcourt set,” said Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said. “They had one basket in the halfcourt in the first half. We just really tightened up defensively and got a big win over a great team.”

Turning Point: After the Mustangs opened the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run and eventually took the lead, Hill responded by scoring six of the Eagles’ final 10 points to seal the win.

“I wasn’t gonna lose the game,” said Hill, a Florida commit. “I knew that I could get to the rim when I wanted to, and I would have to step up and make plays. I didn’t want to let my team down.”

Key Player: Anderson, the No. 55 player in the ESPNU 100, had one of his worst statistical games of the season, shooting just 1 of 14 from the field and finishing with just three points. He was scoreless in the first half, and scored his only field goal on a breakaway layup with 5:14 left in the third quarter.

“It happens as a ballplayer,” said Anderson, a Virginia signee. “Sometimes you have bad games. This was just a bad game for me.”

Added Boyle: “Kasey did a terrific job guarding Justin. He forced him into tough shots all day and when he drove he had to shoot over our big guys. Kasey’s impact defensively was huge.”

Key Stat: The Mustangs shot 7 of 16 from the 3-point line in their quarterfinal win over Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.). But in the loss to Montverde, Montrose missed all seven of its attempts from downtown.

“We did a great job of getting our hands up on their shot attempts,” Boyle said. “I don’t think they had a clean look all day, and that’s a credit to the kids and their defensive pressure.”

Up Next: The Mustangs will face the winner of No. 1 seed Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) and No. 4 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) in the title game Saturday (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). Findlay Prep is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

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.
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Instant analysis from No. 4 seed St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) 67-61 win over No. 5 seed Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) in the quarterfinals of the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep on Thursday:

Overview: St. Benedict's found itself trailing by double digits in the second quarter, but the Gray Bees tightened up on defense in the second half and surged past Blanche Ely, 67-61, to advance to the semifinals of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

Blanche Ely, the No. 16 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, shot 57 percent in the first half and held a 40-32 lead at the half. St. Benedict's, ranked No. 15 in the FAB 50, responded by coming out of the locker room in lockdown mode, holding Blanch Ely to just seven points in the third quarter. Senior guard Melvin Johnson and freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe were pivotal, as they came up with three steals apiece.

Johnson, the No. 92 player in the ESPNU 100, scored a team-high 17 points. Briscoe added 11, and junior guard Tyler Ennis chipped in 14.

Turning Point: The St. Benedict's defense was shredded in the first half. The Gray Bees gave up 40 points, with Blanche Ely senior forward Clide Geffrard and senior guard Benji Bell doing most of the damage on pick-and-rolls. St. Benedict's tried playing man and zone to slow the duo down, but nothing seemed to work.

That changed after halftime. The Gray Bees came out more focused on the defensive end and played straight man the entire half. They held Blanche Ely to 29.6 percent shooting in the second half and forced 10 turnovers (17 overall). That helped St. Benedict's get into the open floor, where the trio of Ennis, Johnson and Briscoe took over.

"We were disappointed in the way we defended in the first half," said St. Benedict's coach Mark Taylor. "In the second half we made the decision that we were going to go man. We hedged harder. We sent weak-side help. We stopped changing the D and went with what worked."

Geffrard scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half, mostly on dunks and lay-ups right at the rim. After the break, the St. Benedict's defense held him to just four points on five shots.

"There was a lot of help-side defense (in the second half)," said Geffrard. "They kept switching and rotating."

Key Player: Just a freshman, Briscoe came into the tournament averaging about three points per game. But the 6-foot-3 guard came up huge during St. Benedict's second-half comeback. Briscoe scored 10 of his 11 points after halftime while adding four assists, three steals and a block.

Briscoe also made a game-changing play midway through the fourth quarter. With St. Benedict's clinging to a two-point lead, he stripped his man at midcourt and went to the floor to make the diving steal. He then got up, gained control and drove in for a lay-up to make it a 55-51 game.

Junior Isaiah Watkins also had a huge game for the Gray Bees, as the 6-foot-8 forward posted 14 points and 14 rebounds, including nine offensive boards.

Key Stat: With Blanche Ely making almost 60 percent of its shots in the first half, St. Benedict's couldn't fully utilize its three-guard offense in the open court. But once the defense clamped down in the second half, the Gray Bees' offense took off. St. Benedict's finished with 20 fast break points, compared to just 10 for Blanche Ely.

Up Next: With top-seeded Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) -- the No. 2 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 -- looming as a potential opponent in the NHSI semifinals, St. Benedict's is going to need more production from its bench. The Gray Bees played just two subs against Blanche Ely, with the bench guys contributing five points in 23 minutes. Findlay Prep is arguably the deepest squad in the nation and is uniquely qualified to take advantage of any team's lack of depth.

NHSI preview: Montverde Academy

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:48
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Team: No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 21-3, No. 12 (No. 2 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Kevin Boyle (1st year at school; spent previous 23 years at St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J., where he won more than 400 games and coached many top players, including 2011 NBA No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving)

Key Players:

Michael Frazier
A transfer from Plant (Tampa, Fla.), the 6-foot-3 shooting guard leads the team in scoring and is a leading contender to be Mr. Basketball in Florida. An ESPNHS Second Team Underclass All-American last season, Frazier is rated the No. 3 prospect in the state of Florida by RecruitingNation and has signed with the University of Florida. Frazier was MVP of the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in January. He scored 16 points in the team’s 49-40 triumph over POWERADE FAB 50 ranked Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) in the title game. In the team's loss to Memphis Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.), Frazier went for 27 points, so they'll look to him for a big scoring night against a tough La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) team.

Kasey Hill
He’s regarded as one of the elite point guards in the nation among juniors. The 6-foot-1 floor general is No. 18 in the ESPNU 60 and has committed to Florida, where he figures to join current teammate Michael Frazier on the roster for the Gators’ 2013-14 season. Hill was MVP last summer at the Adidas Invitational Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis after he led the Florida Rams AAU squad to the championship. Hill began his prep career at Mount Dora Bible (Eustis, Fla.) and was a highly-regarded by Kevin Sutton, Montverde Academy's former coach. Hill had been a ESPNHS Underclass All-American the past two seasons.

Anthony “J.P.” Cortesia
The No. 64 player in the ESPNU 100 was one of the Eagles’ most versatile talents from the first game of the season through the Montverde Academy tourney. The 6-foot-8 power forward will play next at Ole Miss. A native of Venezuela, Cortesia is not known for being a physical player, but with La Lumiere's towering size, he's going to have to battle down low and come up with key rebounds.

Note: Six-foot-10 sophomore Dakari Johnson, who followed coach Kevin Boyle to Montverde from St. Patrick of New Jersey and was the 2011 ESPNHS National Freshman of the Year, had to sit out this season due to the transfer.

Road to NHSI:

There’s little doubt the Eagles were the best team in Florida this season, regardless of school classification. They played a number of top teams in the state and when the Florida High School Athletic Association state playoffs were complete, Montverde had wins over the following champions: Hialeah Gardens (8A), Ely (7A), Lake Wales (5A) and Orlando Christian Prep (2A).

They did lose an in-state game to Hagerty of Oviedo, but were not at full strength at the time. The squad’s only other losses were to Ridgeway of Memphis and Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas). Both of those teams were top 15 ranked in the FAB 50 at the time and Grace Prep went on to win a state title of its own.

Even with those two losses, Montverde Academy had an 8-2 record against FAB 50-ranked teams and in its 24 games they outscored the competition by an average of 16.3 points.

Inside Scoop:

Boyle may not have coached in the NHSI before but has been around big-time basketball for many years. At St. Patrick, he coached Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2010-2011 Mr. Basketball USA Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, currently starring at Kentucky. Boyle also will be coaching the USA team on April 7 at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.

Perhaps Boyle’s biggest challenge is getting players ready to face a quality first-round opponent in the NHSI like La Lumiere without having been in a game since Feb. 4.

NHSI preview: Ely

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:47
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Team: No. 5 seed Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 30-2, No. 16 (No. 3 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Melvin Randall (11th year at school, 429-133 career record including eight previous seasons at Deerfield Beach)

Key Players:

Clide Geffrard
A 6-foot-6 senior forward, Geffrard came on strong toward the end of the season. He pumped in 33 points and hauled down 14 rebounds in the Class 7A state championship game win over Oak Ridge (Orlando). He also had 22 points and nine rebounds in the semifinals as Ely stormed through the state final four bracket. For the season, Geffrard averaged 17.4 points per game and shot 63 percent from the field. He also averaged 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. The unsigned senior could be the best player at Ely since current Florida Gator standout Kenny Boynton, who led the Tigers to a state title in 2007. “We’ve had a good ride with Clide,” Randall said. “He has been very consistent and one of the leaders we’ve depended on. Not a verbal leader-type but leads by example. He’s extremely competitive."

Josephus Bell
Bell was solid at the end of the season just as Geffrard was, but his most eye-opening outings took place earlier in the season. The 6-foot-2 senior guard lit it up for 26 points when Ely beat FAB 50-ranked Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) at the City of Palms tournament and had 22 the same week in a win against Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.). The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 13.1 points and three assists per game for the season. He's capable of big scoring outputs, but if he doesn't hit his average, Ely could struggle against the talented backcourt of St. Benedict's.

Krishaun Myers
Highlighting a third player for the Tigers is tough because so many players (including Anterrio Smith and Kahlil Thomas) are capable of stepping up and getting into double figures. Myers was third on the team in scoring, however, at 8.7 points per game. The 6-foot-2 senior guard’s best performances included 23 points against Constitution (Philadelphia, Pa.) and 27 points against Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). He also plays good defense (1.8 spg), and that will be key since both Ely and St. Benedict's rely on their backcourt to score. “There was any of five or six guys who could have scored 20 points per night at other schools,” Randall said. “Thomas, Myers and Smith were just outstanding and all have their roles. We call Smith ‘Locksmith’ because he’s very aggressive on defense. Tough to get around.”

Road to NHSI:
Ely hopes to make a similar run in the NHSI as Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) did last year and comes from a similar pedigree. Guided by a veteran coach and coming off of an FHSAA state title, the Tigers have lost only to teams that are higher-ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50 than they are – Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) and fellow NHSI participant Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). While the loss to Gorman was by just one point (58-57), the loss to Montverde was more lopsided (67-53). “We can’t go into the NHSI and go off of what other teams from Florida may have done,” Randall said. “It’s exciting to know that Dwyer won its first game last year, but we’re going there to play our attacking style and see what happens.”

Rolling to the Class 7A state title was impressive, but more important to the team snagging the FHSAA’s guaranteed berth into the NHSI were wins over Salesian and Gill St. Bernard’s. Salesian and Gill St. Bernard’s have been nationally ranked, with Salesian in the top 20 as of March 20. Both losses and both big wins took place at the City of Palms tournament in Florida.

With Dwyer's impressive showing at last year's tournament, Ely won't sneak up on a hungry St. Benedict's team that truly feels it is the second-best team in the field. “It helps a great deal (coming into the NHSI) that we know we’ve already played some of the top teams in the country and have fared well,” Randall said. “With the Bishop Gorman game, we had a chance to win at the end and missed a layup.”

Inside Scoop:

Randall and the rest of the team thought there was a good chance that Ely was going to be chosen for the NHSI. “The kids are real excited and know that this is an out-of-state tourney,” he said. “But it’s not a field trip.”

The Tigers have already played a strong New Jersey team – Gill St. Bernard’s – but they assume that the St. Benedict’s team they are playing in the first-round of the NHSI is going to be harder to beat.

“We know they have a lot of great players,” Randall said. “Our preparation is that we are going to have to defend. It’s a well-rounded team and we hope we can slow them down.”

Findlay Prep gets No. 1 seed for NHSI

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
11:36
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ESPNHS has announced the seedings for the eight boys' teams that will compete in the fourth annual ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

The year's event, which features six POWERADE FAB 50-ranked teams, will be March 29-31 at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. ET March 31 on ESPN.

As expected, two-time NHSI champion Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) was awarded the top seed and will face No. 8 seed Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) March 29. Coolidge (29-7) will have its hands full with the No. 2 team in the country. In three years, only Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) has played the top seed in the No. 1 versus No. 8 game down to the wire, and that came in 2010 when Montrose lost to Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) by two points.

This year, FAB 50 No. 9 Montrose Christian (20-2) snagged the second seed and opens the tournament with seventh-seeded Ravenscroft (Ravenscroft, N.C.). The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champions come in with a 31-3 mark, but they didn't venture too far from home this season and are decided underdogs against the defending NHSI champions.

Returning from last year's championship team is emotional leader Justin Anderson, a Virginia recruit, and Michael Carrera, who averaged a record 12.7 rebounds in Montrose Christian's three victories. Stu Vetter's club has to show its backcourt is capable without reigning tourney MVP Tyrone Johnson (now at Villanova), but Ravenscroft has even more to prove. The last two years, the NCISAA entrant has been routed in its opener.

After missing last year's event because of key early season losses, No. 12 Montverde Academy is back in the fold as the third seed. Kevin Sutton coached the team in 2010 when they advanced to the finals, but this year the 21-3 Mustangs have a new coach in Kevin Boyle. He turned St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) into a national power but his program never had the opportunity to compete at the NHSI.

Boyle now gets the opportunity against No. 6 seed La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), a newcomer on the national scene with a big and talented roster. Montverde not only faces the challenge of a hungry 25-2 team ranked No. 23, they also face the challenge of idle time. Montverde had not played another high school since Feb. 4.

One team that certainly won't have any problems with idle time is fourth seed St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.), which competed in the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational last weekend. Gray Bees lost only their second game of the season (33-2) to eventual tournament champion DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the semifinals.

Had St. Benedict's won that tournament without its point guard (Tyler Ennis) and sixth man (Jordan Forehand), there's a strong possibility they would have been seeded second. They only dropped five spots in the FAB 50 to No. 15 (two spots behind DeMatha) and will open the NHSI against fifth-seeded Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.), the FHSAA Class 7A state champ ranked No. 16. If Ennis and Forehand are not healthy for St. Benedict's, they could have trouble stopping the backcourt of Ely, which has proven its scoring ability in big games this season.

If St. Benedict's situation is any indication, this could be the most balanced NHSI field yet. Findlay Prep wants another crack at La Lumiere to avenge its only loss, but in order for that to occur both teams have to advance to the championship game. If history is any indication, La Lumiere might have a good shot at the semifinals (where defending champion Montrose Christian could be waiting) since the No. 6 seed has won in the opening round the past two years.

"You play 30 games for a seeding, but when the ball goes up, everyone is 0-0," said Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck. "We're blessed to be able to participate, as these games give the competing teams some closure."

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

Weekly baseball rankings: A new No. 1

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
4:44
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Tampa Jesuit dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten this week, and into the vacated No. 1 spot steps Nova, which is no stranger to being considered one of the state's top baseball teams. Adding to the Titans' great week was the fact that legendary coach Pat McQuaid registered his 800th victory as the team won its eponymous tournament.

Just two new teams entered the top 20 this week, but one of them — Royal Palm Beach — jumped all the way to No. 7. On the opposite end of the spectrum, perennial power Flanagan dropped from No. 5 to No. 20 after a tough week at the Sarasota Classic. Here's how the top five looks this week (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1 (2) Nova, 12-0
After Jesuit's loss, Nova becomes Florida's new No. 1 team after winning the Titan Classic. During the event, coach Pat McQuaid earned his 800th career win.

2 (3) Olympia, 13-0
Titans won two district games last week over Apopka (4-2, 1-0) and are now No. 11 in the nation.

3 (1) Jesuit, 10-1
The Tigers lost their first game to Gulliver Prep, 3-0, but they also posted a quality win over Bolles. All-American Lance McCullers dominated that game by pitching a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts.

4 (6) Pensacola Catholic, 12-1
A 19-0 win against University Christian (Flowood, Miss.) capped a strong week by the Crusaders. They also defeated Pace in a big game this week.

5 (8) Palm Beach Central, 10-2
The Broncos have played a strong schedule and have a number of quality wins. The best are those against Dwyer, Park Vista and West Boca Raton.

Click here to see the full POWERADE Weekly Baseball Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 20 teams.
No surprise here: Tampa Jesuit is No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation in the POWERADE FAB 50. Four Florida squads are ranking among the nation's top 15 teams.

Elsewhere, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the state's top four remains unchanged from last week, two of the teams that moved into the top 10 - Flanagan and Jupiter - are among the state's top squads year in and year out. Pace and Archbishop McCarthy managed to stay in the top 20, but only just. Because both teams are loaded with talent, we're giving them one more week to prove they belong. Teams like Benjamin, Eustis and Cape Coral are nipping at their heels.
Here's how this week's top five looks (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1 (1) Jesuit, 8-0
The Tigers continued their fast start last week, defeating Lakewood Ranch 4-2 and Berkeley Prep 7-2. This week, they take on Bolles and Gulliver Prep.

2 (2) Nova, 9-0
A 12-0 blanking of St. Thomas Aquinas continued the unbeaten season for the Titans.

3 (3) Olympia, 11-0
The top-ranked team in the Orlando area remained spotless last week with a 6-1 win over Bishop Moore.

4 (4) Christopher Columbus, 9-1
The Explorers defeated Belen Jesuit 6-4 in the first game of week-long Selective Recruiting/Sir Pizza Tournament. The tourney continues this week with games against St. Brendan and Dwyer.

5 (11) Flanagan, 7-1
This perennial national power is at it again. Heading into this week, Flanagan was on a seven-game win streak that includes a 9-0 win over previously unbeaten West Broward.

Click here to see the full POWERADE Weekly Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 20 teams.

With basketball over, baseball now takes center stage. Early in the season we can expect to see a lot of movement in the rankings, which is certainly the case this week. Nova went from a bubble team to No. 2, while five of our preseason top 20 dropped out. Tampa Jesuit has looked dominant in the early going, which is why top prospect Lance McCullers' squad is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 nationally in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's how this week's top 5 looks (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1 (1) Jesuit, 7-0
The Tigers have allowed just one run on the season and are ranked No. 2 in the national POWERADE FAB 50.

2 (NR) Nova, 9-0
Coach Pat McQuaid's Titans are off to another strong start.

3 (14) Olympia, 9-0
Other than the 10 runs allowed in a 14-10 win over Dr. Phillips, the Titans have been a pitching-oriented club so far this season.

4 (4) Miami Columbus, 6-1
The best win for this team has come against Archbishop McCarthy. A loss to rival Westminster Christian, however, prevents any upward movement in this week's rankings.

5 (10) Pace, 5-0
The Patriots have been No. 1 in the nation before and have looked strong with only loss coming to FAB 50 No. 4 Columbus (Ga.). They have a big matchup with Archbishop McCarthy on Wednesday night.

Click here the full POWERADE Florida Weekly Baseball Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 20 teams.

Hoop Rankings: Three kings crowned

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
2:59
PM ET
Click here to see the POWERADE Florida Weekly Hoop Rankings, including capsules on the state's top 25 teams.

Chipley (Class 1A) and Orlando Christian Prep (2A) became Florida's first basketball state champs in 2011-12 on Wednesday, while Tampa Prep defeated Sagemont 58-50 to win the 3A title on Thursday morning. While Chipley and OCP were heavy favorites, Tampa Prep had to survive an impossibly deep 3A field that included eight teams that were ranked in our 25 in the past month. It was the first title for Joe Fenlon's Terrapins, who made multiple championship games and final fours without getting over the hump — until now. The Terps didn't even need a big game from their top player, Butler recruit Devontae Morgan, getting 17 points from Marshall Holmes and 15 from Josh Heath.

And there's plenty of action yet to come. No. 5 Lake Highland Prep, which took down previous No. 10 Godby on Wednesday night, will face Pine Crest in the Class 4A championship on Thursday afternoon. LHP has been the higher-ranked team virtually all season, but don't count out the Panthers: This is the sixth consecutive season David Beckerman's squad has made it at least as far as the state semis.

Terry Parker continues its impressive run and will face Nature Coast Thursday night in the 5A semis, while Lake Wales takes on Plantation American Heritage. In 6A, Wolfson-Leesburg and Winter Haven-Miami Norland are the Friday morning's two semifinal matchups, and in 7A it'll be Oviedo-Oak Ridge and St. Pete-Blanche Ely in the afternoon. Finally, Hagerty will face Vero Beach in one 8A semifinal on Friday night, while Spanish River takes on Hialeah Gardens in the other.

Who are you picking? Let us know in the comments.

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