Prospect Hall still foes' No. 1 target Frederick school heads loaded Charm City field

January 29, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

St. John's at Prospect Hall enters this year's Charm City Classic with a No. 1 national boys basketball ranking, just as it did last year.

But this year's Vikings (15-0) are a different team, and they're hoping for a different result from last year, when Mark Karcher's three-pointer at the buzzer gave Baltimore's St. Frances a semifinal upset of the Frederick school, 75-74.

That game was another in a tradition of scintillating finishes for the tournament, which for the past seven years has brought together some of the top boys high school teams from Maryland and along the Eastern seaboard. Seven current NBA players have participated in the Charm City, which takes place tomorrow and Saturday at the Towson Center.

"That was a different team. A lot of those players are in college right now," said Prospect Hall coach Stu Vetter of last year's Vikings team, which included Shike Lee (Western Nebraska), Jason Harris (Fordham) and Antxon Iturbe (George Washington).

"Certainly they remember last year, but we're focused on this season and Newport," Prospect Hall's first-round opponent tomorrow in the Northwest bracket, Vetter said.

The Prospect Hall-Newport School winner will play Saturday at 9 p.m. against the winner of tomorrow's game between Mount Zion Christian Academy of Durham, N.C., and St. Vincent Pallotti of Laurel, ranked No. 4 by the Washington Post.

Mount Zion, ranked No. 20 nationally by USA Today, produced last year's tournament co-Most Valuable Player -- Tracy McGrady, now with the NBA's Toronto Raptors. He shared the award with Karcher. Other Charm City participants now in the NBA are Keith Booth (Chicago Bulls), Stephon Marbury (Minnesota Timberwolves), Rasheed Wallace (Portland Trail Blazers), Tim Thomas (Philadelphia 76ers), Ron Mercer (Boston Celtics) and Rodrick Rhodes (Houston Rockets).

This year's Vikings are "a good combination of experience and youth," Vetter said.

"All five starters were in the Charm City Classic last year, and coming in, all of the tournaments we've participated in have been very difficult," Vetter said. "We've played some good teams, teams that were good at spreading the floor, did the traps in the backcourt, and we've responded well."

The Vikings feature North Carolina-bound Jason Capel, a 6-foot-8 forward who is averaging 18.8 points and 12.3 rebounds and ranks among the country's top 10 high school seniors.

"I think Capel is the most complete high school player in the country, certainly a national player of the year candidate," Vetter said. "He's improved dramatically the last year. He can play all five positions on the floor. I think he's the best player in the country."

Capel is complemented by 6-7 junior Damien Wilkins, son of the Orlando Magic's Gerald Wilkins. Damien averages 17 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Sherrod Teasley, the 6-4 brother of female national Player of the Year Nikki Teasley (now at North Carolina), averages 10 points and nine assists.

Newport, ranked No. 3 by the Washington Post with a 20-2 record, is led by 6-9 guard Demar Johnson, who averages 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and is regarded as perhaps the country's No. 1 junior.

"He's a big kid with the skills of a guard, and there are some who think he's going straight to the [NBA] league," said Bill Spotts, organizer of the Charm City Classic. "A lot of people are projecting Demar to be the next Tracy McGrady, or even the next Kobe Bryant." Both went to the NBA from high school.

One of Newport's losses was to Mount Zion, which defeated St. Frances in its title game last year. Mount Zion (18-3) is led by 6-7, Missouri-bound Travis Robinson (18 points, seven rebounds), 6-6 shooting guard Corey Hightower (23 points) and J.R. Raymond (17 points).

Pallotti (16-4), which has a one-point victory over Newport School, is led by 6-7 Nate Green, who averages 16 points and 12 rebounds, and David Morris, who averages 17 points and eight assists.

The tournament's Southeast bracket features a 3: 45 p.m. game between Spalding (13-9), ranked No. 6 in the Baltimore area, and St. Raymond's (N.Y.). The contest offers an intriguing matchup of Spalding 7-foot junior Derrick Goode against St. Raymond's 6-11 Ernest Brown, who is headed for St. John's and is among the nation's top 40 graduating seniors.

St. Raymond's also has Vohn Hunter, a Texas-bound, 6-4 shooting guard who averages 22 points.

The other Southeast semifinal has Strake Jesuit (21-3), the No. 1 team in Houston, taking on Towson Catholic (13-4), ranked No. 5 in the area, at 5: 30 on Friday.

Jesuit is led by 6-1 Broderick Hicks (22 points, eight rebounds), 6-9 Jason Bloker (12 points, 10 rebounds) and 6-4 Sam Adamo (17 points). Hicks has signed with Wake Forest, Bloker with Manhattan and Adamo with Colorado State.

Charm City Classic schedule

Tomorrow's games

Southeast bracket

Spalding vs. St. Raymond's (N.Y.), 3: 45 p.m.

Strake Jesuit (Houston) vs. Towson Catholic, 5: 30 p.m.

Northwest bracket

Newport School vs. St. John's at Prospect Hall, 7: 15 p.m.

Mount Zion Christian Academy (Durham, N.C.) vs. St. Vincent Pallotti, 9 p.m.

Saturday's games

Southeast consolation: 3: 45 p.m.

Northwest consolation: 5: 30 p.m.

Southeast final: 7: 15 p.m.

Northwest final: 9 p.m.

Charm City Classic

Where: Towson Center

When: Tomorrow-Saturday

Tickets: Reserved, $15, $12, $10; general admission, $8. Call Towson U. box office (410-830-8447) or Ticketmaster (410-481-SEAT).

Pub Date: 1/29/98

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