SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

March 11, 2009

Prep school tourney brings major talent to North Shore

On Basketball

Matt Jenkins

BEVERLY — If you were interested in gauging how good the local high school basketball scene is here on the North Shore, you should have dropped into Endicott College's Post Center the last couple days.

Endicott was the proud host of the National Prep Championship, which featured the top eight ranked prep school boys basketball teams in the country.

The tournament — which was won by New Hampshire's Tilton School, 97-93, over Virginia's Hargrave Military Academy — featured more talent on one court than any regular high school team in the area has ever featured.

Better yet, these teams' benches were probably more talented than any area school, and if you made up all-time teams from our area schools they still would have had a hard time competing against this level of talent.

For further perspective, the North Shore's best player the last couple years — Bishop Fenwick's 6-foot-7 center Mike Clifford — probably would have been the sixth or seventh man for Tilton.

Every game during the MIAA state tournament we watched Bedford, Wilmington and Watertown double and triple team Clifford to try to stop him. Yet Clifford would have had a real hard time putting up points one-on-one against either Hargrave's 6-8 pivot Chris Braswell or Tilton's 6-9 big man Alex Oriakhi.

Of course, it's not completely fair to try to compare these teams against our locals because the prep schools allow post-graduate years and attract talent from all over the country.

Anyone who turned out for the eight-team tournament on Monday or Tuesday got more than their money's worth though.

"Each team has multiple high major (college) prospects," tournament director Adam Finkelstein said. "You're just not going to find a tourney with eight teams with more players who are going to go on to be stars (in college)."

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