St. James field is loaded with stars

February 01, 1997


Staff Writer

ST. JAMES - This time of year, St. James athletic director Chick Meehan is inundated with phone calls regarding the St. James Invitational Tournament.

Usually, it's media requesting credentials or fans wanting advance tickets.

But never has Meehan taken a call like the one he received Monday afternoon.

On the other end of the telephone line was Eddie Tapscott of the New York Knicks. Tapscott wanted tournament pairings and said the Knicks would likely be sending Jerry Albig, coordinator of basketball operations, to the prestigious three-day boys' basketball affair. Tapscott followed his verbal intentions with a fax on Knicks letterhead.

"They seemed to be very interested in when Mount Zion (of Durham, N.C.) would be playing," Meehan said.

And for good reason.

Mount Zion, which was a flop in its first SJIT appearance two years ago and did not participate last year, is back and brings with it a national Top 5 ranking and players who have received some form of national recognition. Among them is 6-foot-8 senior guard Tracy McGrady, who has been rumored to be skipping college to try his talents on the professional level.


"This is the most talent throughout the field ever," said St. James coach and tournament director Wayne Ridenour. "There's 25 Division I players. It's pretty amazing."

On Friday, Ridenour released the pairings for the 24th annual, eight-team event scheduled for Feb. 13-15.

In first-round games on Feb. 13, St. James faces Oak Hill at 4 p.m.; St. Maria Goretti takes on Mount Zion at 5:30; Thomas Johnson plays Martinsburg at 7; and St. John's at Prospect Hall takes on Mercersburg Academy at 8:30.

The second round, on Feb. 14, pits the St. James-Oak Hill loser and Thomas Johnson-Martinsburg loser at 4; Goretti-Mount Zion loser vs. St. John's-Mercersburg loser at 5:30; Thomas Johnson-Martinsburg winner vs. St. John's-Mercersburg winner at 7; and St. James-Oak Hill winner vs. Goretti-Mount Zion winner at 8:30.

On the final day, Feb. 15, the seventh-place game is scheduled for 2:30; fifth-place at 4; third-place at 5:30; and the championship at 7:30.

Mount Zion, St. John's and Oak Hill have all spent time in the national Top 10 this year. Mount Zion and St. John's are currently in the Top 5.

Thomas Johnson is ranked in the East Coast Top 10 by the National Prep Poll.

Martinsburg is No. 3 in the West Virginia Class AAA rankings.

Mercersburg is considered one of the up-and-coming programs in Pennsylvania.

Goretti started the year ranked in the Maryland Top 20.

St. James, the host, is the only SJIT participant which hasn't spent time in any state or regional rankings.

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