The Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament (ACIT) is one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments in the region. A revolving door for marquee talent such as the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Austin Freeman and Chris Wright have been headlining the ACIT for the last 50 years.
The tournament has been a steady force in matching some of the best catholic schools in the country against each other for a three day shootout. This year’s 50th annual ACIT is once again loaded with talent. so when the doors opened at Frostburg State University, the tournament’s home since 1977, it was open season for yet another exciting weekend in the tournament’s celebrated history.
Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) 84 vs. Bishop Walsh (Cumberland, Md) 43
The Gonzaga Eagles (26-6) kicked off their quest for a third consecutive ACIT title by kicking the hosting Bishop Walsh Spartans (8-16) out of the first round in blowout fashion. It was a balanced scoring effort for the Eagles who finished with five players in double figures.
Gonzaga’s starters relaxed on the bench for much of the 4th quarter while freshmen Nate Britt and Kris Jenkins received some invaluable playing time. A few extra minutes of experience could come in handy should the Eagles meet up with Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) rival DeMatha for a fourth time this season on Saturday.
Whatever the motive behind head coach Steve Turner’s decision to extend his freshmen’s minutes, the coach wasn’t telling. ”Our goal right now is to try to threepeat,” Turner revealed. “We’re the two-time defending champions of this event and it doesn’t matter who it is if we get that opportunity to play in that final game we’re trying to win a championship.”
St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md) 72 vs. Benedictine High School (Richmond, VA) 56
There’s something about Duke recruits that tend to capture the attention of a gymnasium. So while crowd members were busy pointing out Benedictine’s Mike Gbinije, the junior’s presence was also garnering special defensive attention from St. Frances (22-9). The 6-foot-7small forward’s 18 points weren’t anything spectacular but while the Panthers continued to key on him, fellow junior Trey Davis was exploding for 29 points.
Davis shot 20 free throws and Benedictine (24-7) overcame a 31-23 halftime deficit to outscore the Panthers 49-25 in the second half. Despite the loss, a chance at repeating next season could be in store for this year’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champions. St. Frances will welcome back talented juniors Greg Lewis and Sam Cassell Jr.
Mount Saint Joseph (Baltimore, Md) 59 vs. Judge Memorial Catholic High School (Salt Lake City, Utah) 41
The Judge Memorial Bulldogs (17-6) play the game the right way. They play smart, heady and with a lot of heart. They just lack size. The Bulldogs held tough throughout a 23-20 first half against the Gaels (31-4) but the Baltimore Catholic League (BCL) regular season champions took over in the second half.
The Gaels outscored the Bulldogs 36-21in the final two quarters as sharp-shooting senior Ryley Beaumont posted 17 points and hauled in nine rebounds. BCL Player of the Year Eric Atkins lived up to his billing with a 21-point, six assist outing. The Gaels held the Bulldogs to two single digit scoring quarters and now await an anticipated second day matchup with the defending champions tonight at 7:30 p.m.
DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md) 81 vs. Cathedral High School (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) 36
The DeMatha Stags are running out of things to prove this season. The past two weeks have concluded in both the WCAC and City championships. Breaking division rival Gonzaga’s two-year stranglehold over the ACIT trophy could be a possible source of motivation, and if so, the Stags are taking no prisoners.
DeMatha (31-3) ran over, through and around Cathedral (22-14) on their way to the most lopsided victory of the day. Standout point guard Quinn Cook’s 18 points led the Stags on the night but the junior only needed a few short quarters to pile up his stat sheet. DeMatha led 56-24 at halftime and head coach Mike Jones even found time to get his third stringers involved in the Stags’ high wire act.
After one day’s worth of action, DeMatha and Gonzaga appear to be headed for another title game crash with both teams annihilating their competition today. DeMatha must first take care of the aforementioned Gbinije and the Benedictine Cadets on March 19 at 9:15 p.m.