Ravenscroft had a hard time scoring Thursday against an exceptional Rockville (Md.) Montrose Christian club and lost 64-48 in the first round of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational basketball tournament in Bethesda, Md.
The Ravens, who averaged 72 points per game, finished 31-4. Montrose, 40-2 and the No. 2 seed in the eight-team tournament, advanced to play Montverde (Fla.) Academy in the tournament semifinals.
The Mustangs’ defense ruled the day.
The Ravens’ previous lowest scoring totals were 52 points and 53 points (four times), but in each of those games Ravenscroft won by at least a dozen points.
The game was close for more than a half. Montrose led 33-26 at halftime and the Ravens trimmed the lead to 35-31 early in the third period.
But after Ravenscroft senior point guard Madison Jones picked up his fourth foul just two minutes into the second half, Montrose grabbed momentum and went on a decisive 12-1 run over the next five minutes to take a 47-32 lead.
“Madison picking up his fourth foul hurt us because we weren’t able to pressure the ball the way we wanted,” said Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman.
“Montrose is a big, physical team that is extremely strong and they make it difficult for other teams. I wish we’d had a better showing here, but not many teams have the opportunity to play on national television, and we feel privileged to have participated in this tournament.”
The Mustangs were hot from beyond the arc all afternoon, making 7 of 16 attempts, including four by Virginia signee Justin Anderson.
The Ravens also struggled to keep Montrose Christian off the boards. The Mustangs finished with a 39-32 advantage in rebounds, including 16 on the offensive end.
Anderson was a game-high scorer with 21 points and had four rebounds. Ish Wainwright added 15 points and seven boards for the Mustangs.
The Ravens’ leading scorers were junior guard Anton Gill with 16 points and six assists, and Jones with 11 points and five assists.
Gill, a junior who was named to the Associated Press all-state team on Thursday, made two three-pointers in the loss to tie the school record of 106.
The field has some of the nation’s best teams. In addition to No. 2-seeded Montrose, two-time invitational champion Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep (29-1), No. 3-seeded Montverde (Fla.) Academy (21-3) and No. 4-seeded Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict’s (33-2) competed for the title. N.C. High School Athletic Association schools, like many public schools throughout the country, are not eligible.
Preparations for the game had been unusual. The Ravens beat Greensboro Day 64-52 for the NCISAA 3A title on Feb. 25.
Billerman learned on Feb. 27 that the school was in contention for a spot. The last three weeks Billerman held only two or three workouts a week.