ACIT, like basketball itself, is better than ever
Allegany Radio Corporation Sports
If you were tuned into the Big Ten Network on Wednesday night, you saw some things. Chances are you also came out of your chair because of a couple of things you saw.
Chair Raiser No. 1: You saw Myles Dread hit a dead-solid 3-ball with 28 seconds left to lift No. 16 Penn State over Rutgers 65-64 after the Nittany Lions had blown a 21-point lead.
Chair Raiser No. 2: You saw Darryl Morsell rattle home a 30-foot 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1.9 seconds left to cap a 17-point comeback for No. 9 Maryland in a 74-73 win over Minnesota.
Why is this significant, you ask? I will tell you why this is significant, I respond.
Myles Dread? ACIT kid — Gonzaga College, class of 2018.
Darryl Morsell? ACIT kid — Mount St. Joseph, class of 2017; first-team All-ACIT.
And, oh, by the way? Two of Morsell’s Maryland teammates? Jalen Smith? ACIT kid. Anthony Cowan Jr.? ACIT kid.
Smith, who might end up being the Big Ten Player of the Year this season, is Mount St. Joseph class of 2018 and a two-time all-ACIT pick. Cowan, who might end up being the Big Ten Player of the Year this season, is St. John’s College High, class of 2016, and a two-time All-ACIT pick.
Oh, and for good measure, Rutgers sophomore guard Montez Mathis? ACIT kid — 2015 all-ACIT as a sophomore for Mount Carmel.
So what does all of this mean? In just two Wednesday night college basketball games shown back-to-back on national television there were five ACIT alums playing. In other words, it was a pretty good night to be the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament.
Those of us who have been going to the ACIT since the days it was at Allegany High School, and those of us who attended when it was at St. Pete’s, speak wistfully of the days of Austin Carr, Sam Puckett, Adrian Dantley, Jo Jo Hunter, et al, and how it was such a kick to see a former ACIT player playing on television — regional or national — from time to time, because that’s what it was — from time to time.
Now … you can tune in to just about any college or NBA game on national television and see at least one former ACIT player playing in any of them. In fact, all these years later, it’s merely from time to time that you don’t see ACIT alumni on your tube.
All of which proves my contention of the last 15 years or so that for as much as I loved those days at Allegany, and for as much as I still romanticize them, the modern-day ACIT, like the game of basketball itself, is far better now than it’s ever been.
Granted, Austin Carr and Adrian Dantley are still as good as you’re going to see no matter what the time or what the generation is you’re talking about. They’re both hall of famers for a reason, you know. But the proof that today’s ACIT is as great, if not greater than ever before is in how many games you see so many former ACIT players playing on any given night.
The five we mentioned at the top of this entry? They’re merely five of at least 20 ACIT alums who are making impacts on the college and professional games nearly every night now.
So who’re we going to be watching on TV next year? Well, thanks to my crack ACIT research team (made up of tournament director Joe Carter and that’s it), here is a still-partial list of whom you have to look forward to see play during the 60th ACIT March 12-14at Frostburg State University, and where you will likely find them playing in the next year or so:
Gonzaga College High: Terrance Williams, Michigan; Myles Stute, Vanderbilt; Chuck Harris, Butler
DeMatha Catholic: Hunter Dickerson, Michigan; Earl Timberlake, Miami; Paul Smith, East Tennessee State
Paul VI: Jeremy Roach, Duke (McDonald’s All-American and Jordan All-American); Trevor Keels, a junior with offers from Duke and Virginia
Bishop Walsh: Ming Stevens, Seton Hall; Pat Strite, Hampton Sydney
St. Frances: Ace Baldwin, VCU; Jamal West, South Alabama; Jordan Toles, committed to LSU
St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes: Xavier Lipscomb, Radford; Jared Cross, West Point; Andre Screen, Bucknell
MalvernPrep: Deuce Turner, Bucknell
The 60th ACIT will tip off Thursday, March 12, 4 p.m., at Frostburg State University when Baltimore Catholic League regular-season champion St. Frances Academy (36-4), the No. 17 team in the ESPN National Top 25, takes on tournament newcomer St. Stephen and St. Agnes School (29-3), of Alexandria, Virginia.
At 5:45 p.m., Cathedral High School, Hamilton, Ontario, makes its first ACIT appearance in 10 years when it plays Paul VI (24-8), of Fairfax, Virginia, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference runner-up.
The first capacity crowd of the weekend is likely to be in place for Game 3, as defending champion DeMatha (30-3), WCAC champion and the No. 7 team in the country, opens its title defense against host school Bishop Walsh (16-12) at 7:30 p.m.
The final game of the night is scheduled to begin at 9:15 p.m. when ACIT newcomer Malvern Prep (22-5), of Malvern, Pennsylvania, makes its debut against six-time ACIT champion Gonzaga College High School (22-10), of Washington D.C.
— St. Frances takes on Loyola Blakefield Friday, 5 p.m., in the Baltimore Catholic League tournament semifinals at Loyola Maryland’s Retiz Arena. The 7 p.m. semifinal features Mount St. Joseph (28-5) and Mount Carmel. The title game will be Sunday at 1 p.m.
Should St. Frances and Mount St. Joe meet again, it will mark the fourth meeting of the season, the Gaels having won two of the first three, including in the MIAA A Conference title game.
— Meanwhile, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School will play in Friday’s Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association semifinal at Virginia State University after its quarterfinal win over Benedictine.
— The Bishop Walsh Spartans are also in action on Friday, taking on Glenelg Country in the quarterfinals of the Maryland Private School Championship. The Spartans won their first-round game on Thursday, rolling past St. Mary’s Ryken, 65-41, at Takoma Academy.
When Bishop Walsh plays DeMatha in Game 3 of the ACIT, the Stags will be the eighth nationally-ranked team the Spartans will face this season.
Mike Burke writes about sports for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s County Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984. He was the sports editor of the Times-News for nearly 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT