The opening day of the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational saw a mixture of competitive games, and the action continued April 1. Down to four teams, all nationally ranked high school powers, the second round opened with a blowout and finished with a nail-biter.

No. 3 Montrose Christian Academy (Rockville, Md.) 83 vs. No. 22 Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 61

The Montrose Christian Mustangs struggled on the opening day of the tournament, barely beating unranked John Carroll, 64-59. But Montrose found their stride in their semifinal game against the Boys & Girls Kangaroos.

Montrose had both the inside and outside game working as junior forwards Justin Anderson and Michael Carrera combined for 33 points and 23 rebounds, including 17 from Carrera, and their senior backcourt of Tyler Hubbard and Tyrone Johnson also combined for 33 points. The in-and-out game of Montrose was mesmerizing at times and clearly too much for the undersized Kangaroos.

“Coming into this our rotation was small,” Boys & Girls coach Ruth Lovelace said. “We just did the best we could with what we had.”

Although he may not be one of the top three headliners on his team, Hubbard has been a steady force for Montrose in the tournament. The 6-foot, 2-inch guard was critical during a key stretch that expanded the Montrose lead, and was also vital in the opening game against John Carroll, when he nailed four three-pointers. Carrera, Anderson and Johnson receive much of the media attention, but Hubbard holds the Montrose ship together.

Game Notes: Boys & Girls senior guard Michael Taylor scored a game-high 25 points. The 6-foot, 2-inch guard is committed to play at Rutgers next season.

No. 5 Oak Hill Academy (Rockville, Md) 76 vs. No. 15 Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) 73

Two of the nation’s top prep powers saved the best for last in a classic nail-biter that was decided in the final seconds.

Dwyer led for much of the game courtesy of a confusing full court press that Oak Hill couldn’t figure out until late in the game. Senior guard Quinn Cook (29 points) held the Oak Hill Warriors steady throughout the afternoon until he found senior guard Keith Hornsby wide open for a three-pointer that gave Oak Hill their largest lead of the second half at 65-59 with just under three minutes left in the game.

Oak Hill continued to nurse a narrow lead until two missed calls by the officials, a travel by Cook and a controversial no-foul call on an attempted three-pointer, in the waning seconds decided the game. It was a tough loss for the Dwyer Panthers, but the Warriors offered no sympathy after the game.

Cook admitted on the tourney’s opening day that he and his teammates are trying to make history for famed Oak Hill coach Steve Smith by being the first of his storied clubs to win the ESPN tourney. Oak Hill is now one game away from that goal.

Game Notes: Dwyer senior guard Victory Adams scored a team-high 20 points. Star Dwyer forward Jacoby Brissett scored 16 points but much of the Florida recruit’s scoring came late in the game with Dwyer trailing.

Oak Hill Academy faces Montrose Christian on April 2 for the tournament title.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO