WOODSTOCK – Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team is back in the National Prep Championship.
The Colonels were chosen as part of the 12-team field in selections announced Tuesday afternoon by Prep Circuit, marking the second straight season and fourth time in four nonconsecutive seasons under head coach Chad Myers that MMA has reached the annual tournament that unofficially crowns the postgrad national champ.
The tournament is scheduled for March 6-8 at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
MMA (32-3) closed out its regular season on a 12-game winning streak, capping the run with a 100-84 win over Quality Education Academy at home on Saturday afternoon. The Colonels were ranked No. 1 in the Prep Circuit Postgrad Power 10 rankings released on Feb. 14 but were jumped by Putnam Science Academy (Connecticut) in the latest rankings released on Monday.
The official tournament seeds were not clear on Tuesday, though Myers wrote in a text message Tuesday afternoon that MMA would be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The Colonels were the second team to be announced as part of the tournament field on Prep Circuit’s Twitter account, after Putnam Science.
“I do feel like we should get the top seed,” Colonels point guard Rasir Bolton said shortly after Saturday’s win and three days before the NPC field was announced, “but we’re just happy to be in it. We feel like if we get a chance to be in it, we’ve got a chance to win it.”
MMA should be familiar with nearly half of the 11 teams that were announced in the National Prep Championship field on Tuesday (the 12th bid will be announced later this week following the conclusion of conference tournament play). The Colonels played Putnam Science, Northfield Mount Hermon (Massachusetts), Hargrave Military Academy and SPIRE Institute (Ohio) during the regular season, the former three rounding out the latest Prep Circuit top four alongside MMA.
The Colonels went 3-1 against those teams, the lone loss a 79-61 setback to Putnam Science in Baltimore on Dec. 8. MMA beat Northfield Mount Hermon, 79-71, at the National Prep Showcase in Connecticut on Nov. 18, topped Hargrave, 97-85, in the Chance Harman Classic on Jan. 6 and beat SPIRE, 101-86, at home during the Grind Session tournament on Feb. 11.
MMA also has two wins over Fork Union Military Academy, which spent the first half of the season ranked in the Prep Circuit top 10.
During their current win streak – their longest of the season – the Colonels are averaging 88.6 points per game and have held opponents to 58 points or less in seven of those contests. Myers noted that starting guards Tyrese Martin (a Rhode Island signee) and Miles James and backup point guard Isaiah Salter have all missed time with injuries during the streak.
“We’ve just had a bunch of different guys step up, so I’m hoping that helps us once we get everybody healthy,” Myers said on Saturday. “A lot of guys have played major minutes in tight games in certain situations. We’ve really played eight or nine guys at the end of the game in different rotations. I think the prep school season’s so long and you play so many games and practice, you need like nine, 10 guys … that can go in and affect the game to really help us.”
The Colonels’ 32 wins are the most in the program’s history, topping the 30 wins by the 2012-13 squad that featured future NBA point guard Frank Mason III and earned the top seed in that year’s National Prep Championship.
MMA, which will have a bye in the first round of this year’s tournament, has failed to win a game in the NPC in each of its previous three trips.
“We’ve gotta keep it going,” James said. “… Can’t get complacent because the moment you do that, that’s when someone else sneaks up and is gonna grab it from you.
“Our team wants it. We set that goal since the day I got here, from the day everyone else got here, since the day we played our first game – try to get that national championship. We’re not gonna stop until we get it.”