Montrose Christian is somewhat of a charter member of ESPN’s National High School Invitational. The Mustangs have played in each of the tournament’s five installments, winning the crown in 2011 with a thrilling 71-64 double-overtime victory against Oak Hill Academy.
But Mustangs Coach Stu Vetter, who has been in his share of competitive tournaments, notes that this year’s eight-team NHSI field is easily the best to gather for the nationally televised event. Georgetown Prep will again host the tournament on April 4-6, with Spalding competing in the four-team girls bracket.
“This year you can say that it’s a true national championship tournament because all of the teams are in the [ESPN] top 25,” said Vetter, whose team ranks No. 1 in The Post Top 20 and No. 25 in the ESPN rankings. “Each year, our goal is to compete for a national championship and it’s an honor to get to do that again, especially with this being the strongest field ever.”
Joining Montrose Christian will be the nation’s top-ranked team in Findlay Prep (Nev.), No. 2 Montverde (Fla.), No. 4 Prime Prep (Dallas), No. 5 St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.), No. 8 La Lumiere (Ind.), No. 9 Ely (Fla.) and No. 19 Oak Hill Academy (All rankings based on ESPN’s top 25).
The ballyhooed field will bring out top-rated players like Findlay’s Nigel Williams-Goss and Stanford Robinson (Paul VI transfer), Montverde’s Kasey Hill, St. Benedict’s Tyler Ennis plus Oak Hill’s Nate Britt (Gonzaga transfer) and Troy Williams.
The pairings have yet to be released, but there’s a chance that Montrose Christian could open play against familiar foe Findlay Prep. The two teams met earlier this season at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii with Findlay holding on for a 40-35 win.
“It was a close game and we had a lead late in the game before a couple turnovers hurt us,” Vetter said. “If we do get to face them again, it will be a great challenge against a great basketball team.”
Vetter said the Mustangs will resume full-time practice next week after nearly a month layoff since their last regular-season contest on Feb. 19. In the meantime, players have stayed fresh by working out with strength and conditioning coach Matt Johnson.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 1:42 a.m.
That was the time Tuesday morning when Princeton Day’s Aquille Carr hit send on a tweet hinting at his intentions to forgo a commitment to Seton Hall and play professionally overseas next season.
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–The Morgan Wootten Player of the Year finalists were announced Tuesday. Check out the 12 boys and girls in contention for the prestigious award to be recognized during the McDonald’s all-American Game festivities.