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Following the DeMatha-Montrose idea

Last week, my colleague Josh Barr touched upon the seeming reluctance of DeMatha and Montrose Christian, the area's preeminent boys' basketball programs, to meet on the court. While those two schools can hem and haw about getting together, I came across another event that the Washington-area hoops community could take a cue from and, done right, could become one of the biggest sources of sports community pride.

This weekend, a grass-roots basketball group in New York called Big Apple Basketball (BAB) will put on its sixth annual Big Apple Basketball Challenge at Manhattan’s Baruch College. Four games are held each day, each pitting a member of New York’s Public School Athletic League (PSAL) against one from the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA). The Catholic schools have had the edge the past three years, though, the past two have been close, 5-4, last year, and 5-3, in 2007.

“This event has gained a lot of momentum,” said BAB President Jason Curry, “and continues to be one of the premier tip-off events for New York City basketball fans, players, coaches and the general community.”

Curry hit on the key element here – the general community. Much like New York, basketball is central to the athletic identity of Washington. Also like New York, the District’s identity comes from three different municipalities – Washington, Maryland and Virginia, just like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for the Big Apple.

We always hear debate during every sports season about where the better teams are located – D.C., Maryland or Virginia, public or private. The public-private gap only seems to be widening locally.

Why not copy BAB’s format and have a weekend affair to generate some civic, if not scholastic, pride? You could match up public schools from opposite sides of the Potomac or take neighbors separated by the public-private divide. Imagine the possibilities:

-Could the Virginia AAA Northern Region champion hang with the top public school team in Prince George’s County?

-How would, say, last year’s Springbrook team, which went on to win its second straight Maryland 4A title and finished the season with 36 straight victories, fare against a strong private school like Gonzaga or Georgetown Prep?

-It might even be better with the girls. Put Paint Branch on the same court as Good Counsel or Holy Cross and see who the top team is in Montgomery County. Or WCAC power McNamara against Virginia AAA finalist Oakton.

The Washington region is wide enough that an event like this could be held over Martin Luther King weekend, so games could be played on Friday night, all day Saturday and Monday afternoon. Play the games in a venue like American University’s Bender Arena or the Smith Center at GW (easy to get to from the Metro) or the Patriots Center at George Mason. The event would be guaranteed to fill the house with hoops junkies and screaming students, create an electric environment and, just maybe, help determine some bragging rights.

Or, at the very least, it would help the Post with its rankings.

By Alan Goldenbach  |  December 11, 2009; 11:42 AM ET
Categories:  Basketball  
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Perhaps you could wake up and realize that a tournament like you suggest already exists in DC and has been here for 21 years - it's called the Gonzaga DC Classic and features 4 teams from the DC area - this year it was Gonzaga, McNamara, Sidwell and Chantilly against 4 out of area teams - this year Iona Prep (NY), Dallas Jesuit, Calvert Hall (Baltimore) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA). The final featured Gonzaga v Mater Dei (#s 17 and 10, respectively in USA Today) with Gonzaga pulling out the victory at ... Bender Arena. Real Novel concept you have there

Posted by: jkroegerinva | December 15, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

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