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March 1, 2008

National Prep Championships

The National Championships of prep school basketball will take place next week at Fordham University's Rose Hill Gymnasium in the Bronx. The field includes the top 8 teams in the country according to the National Prep Poll.

Hargrave Military Academy (VA), Findlay College Prep (NV), Patterson School (NC), Brewster Academy (NH), American Christian Academy (PA), Notre Dame Prep (MA), Harmony School (OH), and St. Thomas More School (CT) have all been selected to participate in the National Prep Championship beginning Tuesday.

Kevin Keatts and his Hargrave squad earned the #1 seed after going undefeated through the regular season. They are led by Roscoe Davis (West Virginia), Dee Bost (Mississippi State), and Chris Braswell (Georgetown). On Tuesday night they will face the #8 seed St. Thomas More, featuring New York native Devin Ebanks, in the night's first game scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip. Ebanks is signed with Indiana, but could de-commit now that Kelvin Sampson has been fired.

Another local star will return home in the next game as Tyreke Evans leads the #5 seed American Christian against Brewster Academy at 6:30 p.m. American Christian is bound to be a fan favorite as they feature other city products including Lamont Jones, Joshua Spivey, and A.J. Matthews, in addition to Head Coach Tony Bergeron, formerly of Wings Academy. But they will certainly have their work cut out for them as Brewster Academy has dominated the NEPSAC all season long and features a Ben Wallace type physical presence in Arizona bound big man Emmanuel Negedu along with two explosive guards in Mark Lyons (Xavier) and Anthony Crater (Ohio State).

The third game will be a battle between two of the most prestigious prep schools in the country as #3 Patterson locks up with #6 Notre Dame. Patterson spent 10 weeks atop the National Prep Poll this season before falling to Summit last week. But they still have to be considered one of the favorites as they can put points on the board in a hurry behind their three guard line-up of Courtney Fortson (Arkansas), Varez Ward, and Darius Johnson-Odom, to go along with Memphis bound forward Matt Simpkins in the middle.

Notre Dame Prep is the defending champions after winning last season's title behind the MVP performance of current Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

Although Beasley is gone, Notre Dame is another team who will likely have the crowd on their side as they have a number of native New Yorkers on their roster including Melquan Bolding (Louisville), James Southerland (Syracuse), and Sean Crawford along with other pivotal contributors like Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Kimmie English (Missouri), and Johnny Higgins (Duquesne).

Findlay College Prep is a relative newcomer on the national prep scene but they have certainly had a tremendous year as they currently stand undefeated at 29-0, which was enough to give them the tournament's #2 seed. In the final game of the night they will face off against #6 Harmony who is led by their talented trio of Terrell Holloway (Indiana), Jason Henry, and Jonathan Mackey. Findlay will rely on their versatile point guard DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky) along with sharp-shooting Deividas Dulkys and one of the best big men in the class of 2009 in Clarence Trent.

The championships will continue on Wednesday with semi-final games at 6 and 8 p.m. The finals will be played on Thursday night with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

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