Who: No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) vs. No. 7 Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.)
When: 3 p.m. ET Friday
Where: Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
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About Montverde Academy: The Eagles, ranked No. 8 in the Super 25, are perennial contenders both for the DICK’S/National High School Invitational title and the overall Super 25 national crown, most notably capturing three-straight when led by Ben Simmons in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Now they’re a game away from playing for a fourth in five years.
Montverde is 25-4, with all four of its losses coming against fellow national powers Memphis East, Tenn. (twice, and both times by a single possession), St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J. (by a point) and Philadelphia power Imhotep Charter in the season’s only ugly loss, by a score of 57-48.
Sophomore RJ Barrett is the straw that stirs the Montverde offense. He’s widely considered the nation’s top sophomore prospect, and is the team’s most versatile and athletic scorer, as he showed in absolute droves during the team’s victory against Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Az.), the lone public school entry in the tournament. When Barrett is slowed, junior Rechon “Leaky” Black, a North Carolina commit, often picks up the slack on the wings. Inside, Georgia (the country, not the state) native Sandro Mamukelashvili is a force and dropped in his share of highlight reel plays against Shadow Mountain.
The Eagles have plenty of impending and future DI help on the bench, too, so foul trouble is rarely a critical issue with the Kevin Boyle-coached team.
About Greensboro Day: The Bengals were the story of Day 1 at DICK’S, stunning No. 2 seed IMG Academy with a thoroughly impressive and comprehensive 59-40 victory. As expected, Greensboro’s offense was all about J.P. Moorman, who led the team with 15 points, right around the season average for the versatile 6-foot-7 wing and Temple signee. N.C. Central-committed point guard Jordan Perkins also came through when it counted, scoring 14 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. He hit two particularly big threes to essentially ice the win against IMG and send Greensboro on to a place the program has never been.
What Greensboro Day lacks in top-flight depth it has in quality substitutes off the bench, with three key reserves having played major roles and big minutes throughout the season. That may prove to be even more important in their forthcoming semifinal with a talented and deep Montverde opponent.
What to expect: The contrast in experience could not be more stark, even while the team’s strengths match up almost identically. Both teams are led by their talented backcourts, and it will be fascinated to see whether the much ballyhooed sophomore or battle tested senior come out on top of this semifinal face off. Montverde appears to have a significant edge in the front court, though if Greensboro shoots as well and plays as effectively and efficiently as it did in Thursday’s victory, anything is possible for the Bengals. Jumping out to an enormous lead backed by a huge burst of adrenaline and passion, as Greensboro Day did against IMG, wouldn’t hurt the team’s upset cause either.