Four of the nation's top 12 teams, according to USA Today, will be showcased during the Charm City Classic on Friday and Saturday at the Towson Center.
Friday at 7 p.m., No. 1-ranked Dunbar meets No. 12 St. Raymond's (Bronx, N.Y.) in a rematch of a Dec. 29 contest at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., which the Poets won, 89-81. At 9 p.m., Southern takes on No. 3 St. Anthony's (Jersey City, N.J.).
Southern, the area's second-ranked team, was not included by USA Today in its latest Super 25, but the Bulldogs did appear at No. 24 in the latest Associated Press poll. Towson Catholic (No. 11 in the area) and St. Frances (No. 20 in the area) meet in a preliminary game Friday at 5 p.m.
Saturday at 5 p.m., Walbrook, ranked fifth in the area, gets another shot at No. 4 Simon Gratz of Philadelphia. Gratz downed the Warriors, 66-58, on Dec. 14 at Walbrook. Southern and St. Raymond's meet at 7 p.m., and Dunbar and St. Anthony's close out the tournament beginning at 9 p.m.
St. Anthony's coach Bob Hurley attended a news conference at the Towson Sheraton on Sunday, and said he is looking forward to meeting the Baltimore area's top two teams.
"This is a great field," said Hurley, whose son Bobby is the starting point guard for top-ranked Duke and whose son Danny is a freshman at Seton Hall. "This compares with some of the best tournaments going on in the United States this year.
"Any time you come into a field like this, the first thing is to be competitive. We hope to be competitive, even though we have a good record [9-0]. We would like to get one win out of our two nights here, and that might be a tough order."
St. Anthony's features All-American Roderick Rhodes, who has signed with Kentucky. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists for St. Anthony's which has won 38 straight. St. Anthony's last loss was to Dunbar last season in the finals of the Washington Gonzaga Classic.
That Dunbar victory avenged a loss to St. Anthony's a week earlier. That was the Poets' lone loss last season. They have won 36 straight since then.
Tickets for the Charm City Classic are on sale at all TicketCenter locations including the Baltimore Arena and all Hechts stores, or call (410) 830-2244. Tickets are $7 or $9 each day.
Milford Mill's Yolanda Matthews, one of the area's leading basketball scorers, is out for the season after suffering a broken bone in her right foot during a two-car accident Friday evening after the Millers' 56-39 victory at home over Pikesville.
Milford Mill coach Ken Witts said the car Matthews was driving was struck by a hit-and-run driver who ran a red light, according to witnesses.
Matthews, a 5-8 junior guard who was the area's second-leading scorer last season (23.5 ppg) and an All-Metro second-team pick, had scored 23 against Pikesville.
She scored nearly 800 points last season as the Millers went 17-5. She was off to a strong start this season, averaging 15.6 points while the Millers went 5-3.
"It's a shame," said Witts. "She was doing real well and looked real good. But I'm sure she will come back strong."
Kenwood's girls basketball team has taken a major step toward respectability this season.
Four years ago, the school did not have enough players to field a girls varsity basketball team. It was at that point that co-athletic directors Jim Wilmot and Gail Owings dedicated themselves to rejuvenating the program.
With Wilmot as head coach and Owings assisting, the Bluebirds won just four games in three seasons. This season, however, the Bluebirds are off to a 5-2 start and are in contention for a playoff berth.
Much of Kenwood's new-found success can be attributed to senior guard Heather Jacob, a 5-4 transfer from Arizona. Jacob leads the area in scoring (24.4 ppg) and has made last-second heroics her specialty.
Jacob made a 40-footer at the buzzer Friday to give the Bluebirds a 44-42 win over Perry Hall. And in a season-opening 55-53 win over Lansdowne, Jacob stole the ball at midcourt with four seconds left, dribbled through the Vikings' defense, and laid the ball off the glass for the winning basket as time expired.
"Heather provides the senior leadership we really needed," Wilmot said. "She's a never-say-die girl."
Spectators were turned away at the door as a capacity crowd estimated at more than 2,900 filled Loyola College's Reitz Arena on Friday night for the annual Mercy vs. Institute of Notre Dame basketball game.
The turnout for the girls Catholic League contest, won by 10th-ranked Mercy, 48-35, was the largest in the 26-year history of the game, which also has been played at the Baltimore Arena, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Loyola High School.
"I wish I knew why we had the big crowd, but I don't," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion, whose team holds a 19-7 advantage in the series. "I think it's great for girls basketball."