In terms of postseason implications, non-district games in high school basketball are meaningless. Since there are no power ratings, a team makes the playoffs based solely on its league standing.
But the reason coaches Ivan Thomas of Kecoughtan and James Daniel of Phoebus scheduled nationally regarded opponents is two-fold. One, the showcase atmosphere gives players exposure. And two, the giant leap in competition should get them used to the regionals … and maybe beyond.
That's what Thomas hopes to get out of Saturday's game against Montrose Christian (Md.), ranked seventh nationally by ESPN, in the 7 Cities Roundball Classic at Heritage High. That's what Daniel has in mind for his team's challenge against No. 13 Arlington Country Day (Fla.).
"I've always used out-of-district games to play elite teams," Thomas said. "It gives my kids a chance to be seen by college coaches at this level. It's an opportunity for young people to get more exposure.
"And it's a different level of competition. I'm not say better, just different. Some higher caliber, higher-ranked teams will prepare the kids for just about anything in the playoffs. And there's a better chance of advancing in a tough environment when you've had great competition."
Montrose Christian (9-1), whose list of alumni includes Kevin Durrant, is a hoops factory out of Rockville, Md. The Mustangs' only loss came by two points at Marcus High of Texas. From there, they flew to Hawaii and won the Iolani Classic.
Montrose's lineup includes 6-foot-7 wing Justin Anderson, who has signed with Virginia. The Mustangs also have 6-6 wing Michael Carrera (12.6 ppg) and 6-10 center Kevin Larsen, both of whom have been offered scholarships by Virginia Tech.
Phoebus' opponent, Arlington Country Day (8-0) of Jacksonville, Fla., is also loaded. The No. 13 Apaches (8-0) have five players averaging in double figures — and that doesn't include 6-9 forward Jordan Goodman, who has committed to Texas Tech. Guard Torian Graham is averaging 19.1 points a game, and backcourt mates Carlos Morris and Ian Baker are at 15.5 and 13.3, respectively.
"It'll be a good gauge of where we are," Daniel said. "I feel it will give us a good physical and mental test to see where are. Really, the better competition play, the better prepared you'll be the next time around."
Two other Peninsula District teams will be playing Saturday. Heritage, the event's host, will go against Atlantic Shores (6-6 going into Friday night) at 9 a.m. The Seahawks have plenty of height with four players 6-9 or taller on the roster, including 6-11 Dan Robinson.
At noon, Woodside will go against Academy of New Church (7-3) of Bryn Athyn, Pa. The Lions are led by 6-2 guard Dinjiyl Walker, who averages 18.9 points and 4.3 assists per game. Marcus Gilbert, at 6-6 the tallest player on the roster, scores 16.4 ppg and is the team's top rebounder at 8.4 per game.
7 CITIES ROUNDBALL CLASSIC
WHERE: Heritage High School
TICKETS: $15 adults, $12 students, $25 floor seats, $40 VIP pass
•Atlantic Shores vs. Heritage, 9 a.m.
•Booker T. Washington vs. Cape Henry, 10:30 a.m.
•Academy of New Church (Pa.) vs. Woodside, noon
•John Marshall vs. Great Bridge, 1:30 p.m.
•Friends Central (Pa.) vs. Kellam, 3 p.m.
•Chester (Pa.) vs. Landstown, 4:30 p.m.
•Wesleyan Christian (N.C.) vs. Petersburg, 6 p.m.
•Arlington Country Day (Fla.) vs. Phoebus, 7:30 p.m.
•Montrose Christian (Md.) vs. Kecoughtan, 9 p.m.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun