ENGLEWOOD — A pair of elite Greene County area high school teams will join some of the nation’s best at the 2019 Premier Health Flyin’ To The Hoop basketball showcase event, it was announced Oct. 16 during a press conference at Miami Valley Hospital North.
The Xenia Buccaneers boys team and Carroll Patriots girls team were selected among the 37 teams in the 2019 event. The 17th annual Flyin’ To The Hoop showcase will run Jan. 18-21 at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering. The two Greene County area programs will play back-to-back games on Saturday, Jan. 19, the second day of the program.
Teams from seven states and Canada are in the event. Seven of the top-10 seniors in Ohio will be on hand as well.
Xenia will take on First Love Christian, a team from Washington, Pa. near Pittsburgh.
“This is the second time in a row for us, and actually the third time overall,” Buccaneers coach Kent Anderson said. “We played back in either 2013 or ‘14 and lost by two points to a team from Buford, Ga., then last year we beat Olentangy Liberty. This First Love Christian team that we’re playing is amazing. It’s five guys out of Pittsburgh, with nine international players — two from Canada, and seven from overseas — so we’ve got our work cutout for us, but I think it’s going to be a great barometer to see where we are in January.”
Anderson said the school has already moved an originally scheduled Friday, Jan. 18 regular season game against Greenville to Thursday, in order to give the Xenia players at least one day of practice to focus on the First Love Christian game.
Anderson brought along future Cincinnati Bearcat Samari Curtis, and Xenia teammates Noah Crawford and Johnzel Gray with him to the press conference. Anderson said he picked tall guys to bring along, “because it’s not very intimidating when you bring a 5-foot-3 kid here with you.”
Curtis and Crawford are making their second trip to the Hoop event. Gray said he was excited to see how he can measure up to the nation’s best players. According to event officials, 12 5-Star recruits, 15 4- Star recruits and 13 3-Star recruits (including Curtis, the third rated Ohio senior overall) will be playing in the event.
“There’s so many good players here, I just want to see what I can do and what I can handle,” Gray said. “I like all the competition, because it makes me a better person and a better player.”
NIKE Recruiting Coordinator and frequent ESPN commentator John Stovall helped event founder Eric Horstman create the best pairings for the four-day event. He selected the First Love – Xenia pairing.
“First Love has a great player at guard named Isaiah Wilson, and it would be a great matchup between him and Samari,” Stovall said. “Samari is a stud. He’s one of the better players who will be in the tournament … so I wanted to create something that would give him a challenge. The First Love team is good, and they’re kinda big, but Xenia is a disciplined team and Samari’s a star player. I think if everything comes together, it could be a great basketball game.”
Carroll will face defending Division IV state champion Minster in the only girls basketball contest on the 20-game schedule. Six of the Patriots’ seven top scorers will return this season, led by junior Julia Keller who averaged 12.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and two blocks per game last season.
Minster had to knock off No. 1-ranked Waterford in the state semifinals, then had to defeat No. 2 Ottoville in the final, to claim the state title last season. The Wildcats’ two top scorers from that championship win — Courtney Prenger and Ivy Wolf — are expected back again this season.
Attempts to reach Carroll girls coach Cecelia Grosselin or Carroll High School Athletic Director Scott Molfenter for comment were unsuccessful. For ticket information and a complete listing of the 2019 Flyin’ To The Hoop game schedule, go to the event website at flyintothehoop.com .
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.