Update (7:35 p.m.): DeMatha is still mulling its invitation to the Maryland State Private School tournament due to potential scheduling conflicts. Coach Mike Jones said a final decision will be made Thursday.
When Keith Veney heard earlier this month that the city championship would no longer pit the top D.C. team against the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion, he immediately began brainstorming. What resulted was the Maryland State Private School championship, a three-round tournament on March 7-9 that will feature six of the top Maryland private school teams.
“Once they changed the City Title Game, I began talking to some coaches about putting together a tournament,” said Veney, a McNamara alum who has trained several NBA players under his Shot Doc Nation organization. “A lot of times, we don’t get to see the best Maryland private schools play because they are in different conferences, so this is a chance to see some of the best in Maryland.”
The inaugural field was originally expected to include DeMatha, Lanham Christian, McNamara, Pallotti, Princeton Day and Riverdale Baptist. Veney said National Christian was invited to play but declined due to its prior commitment in the National High School Prep Championship in Myrtle Beach on March 7-9.
The quarterfinal round will take place Thursday, March 7 at McNamara, with McNamara facing Lanham Christian at 6 p.m. followed by Princeton Day against DeMatha at 8 p.m. Pallotti and Riverdale Baptist have first-round byes.
On Friday, March 8, the semifinal round will be played at Riverdale Baptist. Pallotti will take on the Princeton Day/DeMatha winner and Riverdale Baptist will play the McNamara/Lanham Christian winner. The championship will take place on Saturday, March 9 at Riverdale Baptist. Times for the semifinals and final have yet to be determined.
The field features several Division I senior recruits, including Princeton Day’s Aquille Carr (Seton Hall commit, area’s leading scorer at 27.6 points per game), Riverdale Baptist’s Nigel Johnson (George Washington commit, Capital Beltway tournament MVP), DeMatha’s BeeJay Anya (N.C. State) and McNamara’s Stephan Jiggetts (Siena).
Veney said he plans to expand the tournament to 16 teams next year with hopes of inviting Maryland teams from the Mid-Atlantic and Interstate Athletic conferences, among others.