MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

The No. 14 team in the country will be in town, but first, a pair of the four top-10 teams in the Washington Post High School Basketball Top 20 will tip it off Thursday afternoon, as the 61st Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament gets underway at Frostburg State University.

The 61st ACIT is Thursday through Saturday, March 9-11 and all 12 games will be broadcast on Magic 100.5-FM.

Bullis vs. McNamara

The Bullis School of Potomac (25-3) will make its first ACIT appearance when it takes on McNamara (25-8) of Forestville at 4 p.m.

The Bulldogs are the regular-season and tournament champions of the Interstate Athletic Conference and are ranked No. 6 in the latest Post poll, having been ranked No. 3 the previous week. Bullis is coming off a loss to Mount Zion Prep in the Maryland Private Schools quarterfinals.

The Bulldogs, who had last won a share of the IAC title in 2017, started the season hot and continued to win. With an experienced coach in Bruce Kelley and a group of young, talented perimeter players, Bullis went 9-1 in the conference, winning by an average of 18 points.

McNamara, meanwhile, is making its second straight ACIT appearance and is ranked No. 8 in the Post poll, having jumped a spot from No. 9. The Mustangs also lost to Mount Zion Prep last week, falling in the Maryland Private Schools semifinals.

Gonzaga vs. St. Maria Goretti

At 5:45 p.m., six-time ACIT champion Gonzaga College High School of Washington (25-9) plays St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown (27-7).

The Eagles of Coach Steve Turner are ranked No. 7 in the Post poll, having jumped a spot from No. 8, and fell to the new No. 1 team in the poll, Sidwell Friends, in the DCSAA semifinals.

St. Maria Goretti, the Baltimore Catholic League regular-season runner-up, fell to Mount St. Joseph, 59-50, in the BCL Tournament championship game Sunday at Goucher College. Goretti was trying to win its first BCLT title since 2001 having split the season series, with Goretti winning at home, 54-52, to hand the Gaels their only BCL loss of the season.

Jahsan Johnson scored 11 points to lead Goretti and Caleb Embeya added 10 points and 10 rebounds as both were selected to the All-Tournament Team. Najeh Allen also scored 10 points.

Embeya and Dionte Alexander were both first-team All-Baltimore Catholic League selections, while Allen was second team. Embeya was the BCL Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Sidney McCray was the conference Coach of the Year.

St. John’s vs. Catholic

At 7:30 p.m., the St. John’s College High School Cadets (30-3), the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion, the No. 14 team in the ESPN National Top 25 and the No. 2-ranked team in the Post poll, will play ACIT newcomer Catholic High School of Virginia Beach, Va. (33-2).

St. John’s is coming off a loss to Jackson-Reed in the DCSAA semifinals. The Cadets, who have won two ACIT titles, have been led by senior Malik Mack and juniors Donnie Freeman and Daquan Davis

The Crusaders are the regular-season and tournament champions of the Tidewater Conference (TCIS), defeating Steward, 66-47, in the tournament championship game, as tournament Most Valuable Player Josiah Rickards scored 21 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Brayden Thorne scored 20 points and Aidan Filippini 11 points.

DeMatha vs. Bishop Walsh

In the final game of the first night, 9:15 p.m., three-time defending ACIT champion DeMatha (19-12) will play the tournament host school, Bishop Walsh of Cumberland (9-19).

The Stags, who are coached by first-year head coach Mike Jones, are ranked No. 18 in the Post poll and are coming off a loss to McNamara in the Maryland Private Schools tournament.

The Spartans completed their NIBC season with their first conference win on Saturday, 68-67, over Oak Hill in the Pete Hollis Showcase at Davis Field House on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.

Mikkel Tyne led the Spartans with 26 points, going 10 for 19 from the field and 6 for 10 on threes. LSU commit Mike Williams III scored 17 points with five assists and three steals, while Jasiah Cannady and Emmanual Okitondo both scored 10 points.

“I can’t be prouder of the guys not quitting after a tough season in the best league,” said BW head coach Dan Prete. “The resilience of this group has just been absolutely amazing.”

The Spartans also have a win this season over St. Maria Goretti.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT