MCI Center will showcase some of the area's best in boys and girls high school basketball teams, as well as blue-chip talent from elsewhere, today at the eight-team DeMatha Invitational. The third annual event, which was started in 1997 by longtime DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten, raises money to promote awareness about the local and nationwide need for organ donors. Wootten organized the event after receiving a life-saving liver transplant in the summer of 1996. Although the tournament bears DeMatha's name, Good Counsel (17-1) enters the event as the area's top team. The No. 1 Falcons, led by seniors Roger Mason and Chris Monroe, will take on Tampa (Fla.) Prep (15-4) at 4:30 p.m. "I have a great level of respect for Morgan, and this is a great opportunity to help a cause that saved his life and that will save countless others," Good Counsel Coach Joe McCall said. "Tampa's got one of the premier big men in the country in Casey Sanders, who is 6-11 and going to Duke, and that alone makes them a formidable team. It's always good for us to play other teams from out of the area and see different styles of play." This year's event starts at 3 p.m. with a girls matchup between No. 6 St. Mary's (13-1) and No. 14 Carroll (9-3). At 6 p.m., No. 5 Gonzaga (15-3) plays Lee (10-1) of Staunton, Va., and No. 2 DeMatha (15-2) plays Highlands (9-4) of Fort Thomas, Ky., at 7:45 p.m. The inaugural DeMatha Invitational was played at US Airways Arena. This is the second year MCI Center will serve as the host site. Last year, Ron Hecklinski, the boys basketball coach at Anderson High in Indiana, brought national attention to the Invitational. Hecklinski coached Anderson in the event shortly after he received a liver transplant. Hecklinski will be recognized before DeMatha's game tonight. Last year's event raised more than $14,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Coalition, which publicizes the need for organ and tissue donations. More than 60,000 people -- including 1,519 in the Washington area -- are awaiting transplants of a major organ, according to the Coalition. DeMatha Invitational No. 6 St. Mary's-Annapolis vs. No. 14 Carroll, 3 p.m. St. Mary's, which has won five of the last eight Baltimore Catholic League championships, has one of the area's top backcourts. Senior guard Maria Smear averages 18 points per game and is being recruited by several Division 1 schools. The Saints' other guard, Emily Lipton (16 ppg), has signed with Virginia Tech. Felicia Holloway averages 10 points and nine rebounds inside. Carroll counters with Virginia recruit Schuye Larue, one of the area's top players. Larue, a 6-foot-3 forward, is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. Senior center Latissha Isby averages 13 rebounds, and guards Billi Godsey (58 percent from the field) and Candace Wilkins (10 ppg) provide scoring from the outside. The Lions were the runner-up in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference last season. -- Jon Solomon Tampa Prep vs. No. 1 Good Counsel, 4:30 p.m. This game features the first of many meetings between Good Counsel guard Roger Mason and Tampa Prep center Casey Sanders. The two will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the fall -- Mason for Virginia and Sanders for Duke. Tampa Prep forward Winston Davis, who is being heavily recruited by Pennsylvania and Dartmouth, averaged 25 points in two games last week. Over the past six seasons, the Florida school has won 26 or more games each year behind Coach Joe Fenlon, who has more than 300 victories in 16 seasons. Good Counsel's duo of Mason and George Washington recruit Chris Monroe combine for more than 45 points per game. Mason had a team-high 17 in Tuesday's win over McNamara. Point guard A.J. Harris, who will play for the College of Charleston in the fall, averages six assists per game in addition to his strong defensive play. -- Tara Finnegan Robert E. Lee vs. No. 5 Gonzaga, 6 p.m. Lee Coach Paul Hatcher is one of the winningest coaches in Virginia, having compiled a 620-125 record and two AA state championships in 31 seasons. Lee's offense goes through 6-11 senior center Jason Rogers (19 ppg, 11 rpg, 7 bpg), who has signed with Virginia. He was first-team all-state last season as a junior. Point guard C.W. Durrette is averaging 12 points and four assists for the Leemen, who are ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press among Virginia AA teams. Gonzaga is enjoying one of its finest seasons, which includes a 66-65 overtime victory over then-No. 1 DeMatha. Senior forwards Tom McCloskey (16 ppg, 7 rpg) and Pat Mitchell (14 ppg, 8 rpg), a James Madison recruit, will be asked to contain Lee's Rogers. Gonzaga's backcourt is led by Billy Glading (lacrosse signee with Virginia) and Brandon Newby. Glading made the winning free throw against DeMatha. -- Jon Solomon Highlands vs. No. 2 DeMatha, 7:45 p.m. Highlands is lead by a duo of two-sport players. Derek Smith, a 6-foot-6 forward (22 ppg), is a Mr. Basketball candidate and an all-state tight end on the football team. Joining Smith in the frontcourt is 6-4 Jared Lorenzen (20 ppg), an all-state quarterback. Smith and Lorenzen swept the tournament awards last month at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Smith was named the most outstanding player and Lorenzen was named Mr. Hustle. DeMatha began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation behind the play of star guards Keith Bogans (21 ppg, 8 rpg), who signed with Kentucky, and Joe Forte (23 ppg, 7 rpg), who will play for North Carolina. However, losses to then-No. 16 Gonzaga and No. 1 Good Counsel (then ranked eighth nationally) and Bogans's recent suspension have created a stir. DeMatha was bolstered by the return of Bogans, who missed five games for disciplinary reasons. The Stags lost one game in the span. Bogans scored seven points in his first game back, a 66-48 win over St. John's this past Tuesday, and Forte had a game-high 32. Sophomore center Jordan Collins (10 ppg, 7 rpg) has emerged as an inside threat on offense for the Stags. -- Tara Finnegan CAPTION: Clockwise from top left: Maria Smear of St. Mary's-Annapolis, Casey Sanders of Tampa Prep, Schuye Larue of Carroll, Derek Smith of Highlands, Tom McCloskey of Gonzaga, Good Counsel's Roger Mason, Jason Rogers of Robert E. Lee, and Joe Forte of DeMatha. ec