High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: 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.
After games on Sunday, March 11

An upset, comeback and dynasty. That's what we're left with after crowning the state champions this past weekend at the Dean Dome.

In Class 4A, defending champ West Charlotte's bid at a repeat fell short against an undersized but upstart New Hanover squad. Kadeem Allen, who transferred from Laney this year, was huge with 21 points and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter that have the Wildcats the lead for good.

In Class 3A, Hickory couldn't hold on to its early lead against Rocky Mount, which surged ahead for the title. The Gryphons were led by double-doubles from Dante Battle (20 points, 16 boards) and Terrill Hilliard (21 points, 11 rebounds).

In Class 2A, Kinston conjured up talk of a dynasty by winning its eighth title overall and third crown in the last five years. Cuthberston nearly pushed the game to overtime, but a last-second 3-pointer missed, giving the Vikings a 58-55 win.

That'll do it for the North Carolina basketball rankings in what was an eventful season. Stay tuned for NICSAA 3A champ Ravenscroft in the ESPNHS NHSI tournament starting March 31 in Maryland.

Here are the final rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. New Hanover (Wilmington) 30-1 (3)
Wildcats knocked off defending 4A champ West Charlotte to win the crown behind game MVP Kadeem Allen's 21 points.

2. Ravenscroft 31-3 (2)
Ravens were selected to play in the ESPNHS NHSI tournament in Maryland on March 28-31.

3. West Charlotte 27-6 (1)
Lions couldn't repeat as 4A champs, falling to New Hanover despite getting 14 points and 21 rebounds from Kennedy Meeks.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

N.C. Week 13 hoops rankings: West Charlotte eyes repeat crown

March, 6, 2012
After games on Sunday, March 4.

Six days after his team's season ended abruptly, Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner was still searching for answers. In December, the Trojans had beaten West Charlotte in a close battle. All year, the Trojans boasted the state's most talented squad, featuring the likes of super junior Allerik Freeman and Clemson commit Josh Smith. But on Feb. 28, a one-point lead in the third quarter morphed into a 21-point loss to the same West Charlotte team in the Class 4A regional semifinals.

"We had it close there in the third quarter and then we just committed turnover after turnover after turnover," said Baumgardner, whose team also finished 28-2 and lost in the regional semis last year. "We were never able to recover."

Meanwhile, the defending champ Lions, now ranked No. 48 in the POWERADE FAB 50, look more than recovered from their early-season inconsistency, beating Olympic and then Davie County to earn their 17th straight win and reclaim a spot in the 4A title, this time against a surging New Hanover squad. Coach Baronton Terry called last season's championship run a matter of "peaking at the right time," and it appears 2012 could bring the same.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. West Charlotte 27-5 (2)
The defending champ Lions knocked off Olympic before downing Davie to win their 17th straight game and set up a Class 4A final against New Hanover.

2. Ravenscroft 31-3 (3)
Ravens had their greatest season in school history, winning a record 31 wins and the NCISAA 3A title. Future is bright with super junior Anton Gill returning next year.

3. New Hanover (Wilmington) 29-1 (5)
Thomas Johnson dropped 29 points to lead Wildcats to Class 4A title matchup with top-ranked West Charlotte on Saturday.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

N.C. Week 12 hoops rankings: Ravenscroft ends Christ School's reign

February, 28, 2012
After games on Sunday, Feb. 26.

In some ways, Ravenscroft has looked a lot like UConn did during last year's NCAA postseason. Like UConn, Ravenscroft had a one-two punch of youth and experience in junior Anton Gill and senior Madison Jones. Like UConn, the Ravens had to knock off several giants along the way, like five-time defending champ Christ School and a solid Greensboro Day squad. And like UConn, the Ravens put it all together to secure the NCISAA 3A crown and a school-record 31 victories.

On the public school scene, another contest a March Madness feel takes place Tuesday when top-ranked Olympic faces defending 4A champ West Charlotte in the 4A regional semifinals. Olympic, the No. 30 squad in the POWERADE FAB 50, won their sole regular-season meeting by three points and has arguably the most talented team in the state, but the Lions appear to be peaking at the right time behind big man Kennedy Meeks and scoring threat Mike Brown. Should be a good one.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 28-1 (1)
Trojans face off Tuesday against defending 4A champ West Charlotte after downing the Lions earlier this season. A win would put Olympic in its first regional final.

2. West Charlotte 26-5 (2)
The Lions' quest for a repeat 4A title will be challenged greatly on Tuesday when they face top-ranked Olympic, a team they lost to by three points earlier this season.

3. Ravenscroft 31-3 (7)
Ravens put together quite the run at season's end, blowing past five-time defending champ Christ School before beating Greensboro Day to win the NCISAA 3A crown and set a school record for wins in a season.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

NC Week 11 hoops rankings: Harding hands Olympic its first loss

February, 21, 2012
After games on Sunday, Feb. 19

The first two games (one of which went to overtime) were decided by a combined four points, so even though Olympic entered Friday's MEGA-7 tournament final against Harding undefeated at 25-0 and unbeaten in its last 52 conference games, nothing was guaranteed.

Sure enough, the third time proved to be the charm for the Rams, who knocked off Olympic 61-55 in overtime behind Jarvis Haywood's 26 points. The win is a huge momentum boost for Harding as it enters the 3A playoffs as well as a huge motivation tool for Olympic, which remains the favorite in 4A and falls to No. 34 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

With the playoffs beginning this week, several other teams enter red hot, including Ravenscroft. The Ravens have won 11 straight, including a victory against No. 5 Christ School, and are riding Anton Gill's impressive recent play.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 25-1 (1)
Trojans' bid for an undefeated season ended in an overtime loss to Harding in the MEGA-7 tournament final. But Olympic hangs on to the top spot entering the Class 4A playoffs since they beat Harding twice this year.

2. West Charlotte 23-5 (3)
Lions stretched their win streak to 13 games by beating Mallard Creek for the I-MECK title.

3. Harding (Charlotte) 22-4 (7)
The third time was the charm for the Rams, who knocked off top-ranked and previously undefeated Olympic in the MEGA-7 tournament championship.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

NC Week 10 hoops rankings: Top 10 matchups lead to shuffle

February, 14, 2012
After games on Sunday, Feb. 12

No doubt the conference and state playoffs will bring some memorable matchups and close games, but last week saw several top 10 teams square off in preparation for the postseason.

Ravenscroft showed its mettle by knocking off Christ School, which has won the last five NCISAA 3A crowns. Behind Anton Gill's 34 points, the Ravens won a 83-73 contest to somewhat avenge a title-game loss in 2009 and create optimism for the weeks to come.

High Point Christian and Greensboro Day engaged in another nailbiter, but the result was the same, as High Point Christian came out on top in an 80-77 overtime battle. Jackson Kent nearly dropped a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in victory. On Tuesday, the Cougars get a chance to avenge their lone loss of the year to Wesleyan Christian.

Debuting in this week's state rankings is New Hanover, which has won seven straight, thanks to a solid week by Mike Hickey and Concord's first loss of the season.

Nationally, Olympic moved up to No. 28 in the POWERADE FAB 50 after securing an undefeated regular season and clinching its fourth straight MEGA-7 crown.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 24-0 (1)
Trojans completed the regular season undefeated with wins against Berry and Charlotte Catholic, earning their fourth straight MEGA-7 title. The conference tournament begins this week.

2. High Point Christian 27-1 (4)
Cougars earned an 80-77 overtime against No. 5 Greensboro Day behind Jackson Kent's 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Tuesday brings the chance to avenge their lone loss of the season against Wesleyan Christian.

3. West Charlotte 20-5 (8)
After an inconsistent start, Lions appear to have found their rhythm by winning nine straight and clinching another I-MECK title.

Click here for the full POWERADE FAB 50 weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

Garner wins holiday tournament, enters Week 4 NC hoops rankings

January, 3, 2012
After games ending Jan. 2

The football season ended in disappointment for Garner, as the Trojans lost their first and only game to Greensboro Page in the 4AA final. Now, their brothers on the hardwood appear determined not to let the same happen to them.

Garner emerged from a loaded field at the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational as the champion after holding off St. Raymond (N.Y.) behind MVP Dominique Reed's 20 points and eight rebounds. The Trojans also beat Kinston and Texas power Strake Jesuit along the way to take the No. 9 spot in the state rankings. Ravenscroft also found success at the tournament, repeating as champs of the Summit Hospitality bracket.

Olympic remained atop the rankings and gained a quality win by beating defending 4A champ West Charlotte, 61-58, in the Upward Classic title. Allerik Freeman earned MVP honors and Josh Smith had a monster game (20 points, eight boards) in a game that could be a preview of the 4A West Regional Final. The win pushes the Trojans to No. 36 in the POWERADE FAB 50 as they get ready for another test in No. 8 Harding on Friday.

Here are the rest of this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 13-0 (1)
Trojans picked up a quality win by beating defending 4A champ West Charlotte in the Upward Classic championship. Next up: MEGA 7 Conference battles with West Mecklenburg on Tuesday and No. 8 Harding on Friday.

2. Northside Christian (Charlotte) 12-0 (2)
Justin Gordon dropped 24 points and 8 rebounds in the semis before going for 15 and 8 in the final against Mooresville to lead the Knights to the Hardwood Classic title.

3. High Point Christian 14-0 (4)
Cougars cruised to Sheetz Holiday Classic championship behind Jackson Kent, who averaged 19.7 points across three wins.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina hoops rankings.

Olympic takes over the top spot in first hoops rankings

December, 8, 2011
Despite starting 5-0, Olympic coach Ty Baumgardner admits that his team could stand to play better in the first quarter after having to put together multiple rallies. But when it comes to the first state rankings, the Trojans are starting off just fine. With an assist from United Faith Christian's slow start (4-3) and Harding's upset of previous No. 2 West Charlotte, the Trojans have earned the top spot. Allerik Freeman, ranked ninth in the junior class, leads the squad with 17.2 points per game.

"Because of the natural progression, we happen to be the team that's No. 1, which is great, but to be honest, we don't worry about that stuff," Baumgardner said. "It's still yet to be determined if this is the best team I've ever coached, but without question, this is the most talented team I've ever had."

As a result of its big win as well as the impressive play of Jarvis Haywood (23.2 points), Harding makes its debut in the rankings. Likewise, Christ School, which has won the last five 3A crowns in the private ranks, leaps to No. 4. Junior transfer Shannon Hale leads the Greenies with 14.0 points per game.

Here's how the state rankings shake out (preseason rankings in parentheses):

1. Olympic (Charlotte) 5-0 (4)
The Trojans take over the top spot, having beat five tough opponents by an average of 19.4 points.

2. West Charlotte 1-1 (2)
The defending 4A champ Lions were upset by Harding, 67-66, in their second game, but will look to bounce back against Hopewell and at the tough Nike Hoops Festival on Dec. 10.

3. Ravenscroft (Raleigh) 5-1 (6)
Led by star junior Anton Gill, the Ravens are off to quick start, including a win against No. 8 Wesleyan Christian.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly North Carolina basketball rankings

Graham, Frazier highlight XC national rankings

August, 31, 2011
The buzz surrounding North Carolina cross country is on high, as two local runners begin the season well within the national spotlight and the DyeStat Elite Top 25.

On the boys side, Cary Academy's Thomas Graham checks in at No. 8 as he looks to win his fourth straight state title. Last year, the senior took 20th at the NXN Nationals and second in the 5K at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, just behind St. Benedict's Prep Edward Cheserek, the nation's top runner. Graham has already started the 2011 campaign on the right foot, winning the Western North Carolina Carnival cross country championship in a course-record time of 15:12.07.

On the girls side, Wesley Frazier secured the top spot on the list after an impressive spring and summer. The Ravenscroft junior put on a show at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, winning the 5K and mile while taking third in the two-mile event.

Brandon Parker covers North Carolina for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.