The Cavaliers (29-2), who won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship last month, join three other teams in the field: Dr. Phillips, from Orlando; Life Center Academy from Burlington, N.J.; and Dillard from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“We’re very excited,” Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond said. “It’s a way for us to continue our season, get a little bit more exposure for the girls and it’s very exciting for them to have the opportunity to play on national television.”
This is the second invitation to the national tournament for the Cavaliers, who fell to Dr. Phillips in the semifinals two years ago.
Dr. Phillips (29-3) went on to win the title that year. This year, it comes into the tournament as a three-time Florida Class 8A state champion. Life Center (28-2) is the National Association of Christian Athletes National Tournament champion. Dillard (28-2) is a three-time Florida Class 5A state champion. The pairings for the tournament will be announced later.
The Cavaliers are coming off a strong showing at the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament over the weekend. After beating Elizabeth Seton and USA Today No. 15 Good Counsel, they fell to USA Today No. 8 St. John’s, 54-44, in the title game.
Getting to the national tournament is “part of the goal package when you put it together,” Rosemond said. “First is win the IAAM championship. If you do that, that almost certainly qualifies you for a Bishop Walsh invitation and it also gets you invited to ESPN Rise (the original sponsore for the national tournament). It’s almost like all three go hand-in-hand.”
This is the sixth year for the National High School Invitational. Seton Keough won the inaugural girls' tournament in 2009. Riverdale Baptist won last year.