Inside the FAB 50: PrimeTime primer

Junior guard and North Carolina recruit Nate Britt II will lead No. 14 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) against No. 29 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) on Friday night on ESPN2. Kelly Kline/ESPNHS

The New Jersey-based PrimeTime Shootout has been around since 1976 and in recent years the event has served as the last major showcase for some FAB 50 teams before postseason playoffs and tournaments.

The 10-game, two-day event Saturday and Sunday at Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) features four top 20 teams, including all three New Jersey teams in the FAB 50 -- No. 3 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), No. 20 Gill St. Bernard (Gladstone, N.J.) and No. 24 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.). The other ranked team playing is No. 4 Chester (Pa.).

Last season, PrimeTime Shootout results had a major impact on crowning the FAB 50 national poll champion. Eventual No. 1 St. Anthony didn’t take part, but Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) did and lost its only game of the season 57-53 to Linden (N.J.). Montrose later ended at No. 2 and would have been ahead of St. Anthony if it hadn’t lost that game.

This weekend, St. Anthony, riding a 48-game win streak entering the week, faces a major Shootout challenge from once-loss Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), a private academy ineligible for the rankings that has already handed one FAB 50 ranked team its only loss -- No. 35 Northland (Columbus, Ohio).

Another long win streak is also on the line in the Shootout. Chester entered the week with a 45-game run and will face Neptune (N.J.).

Gill St. Bernard will be tested by East Region-ranked Plainfield (N.J.), while St. Benedict's, which lost its only game this season by one point to St. Anthony, plays two Shootout games. The Gray Bees go up against Lakewood (N.J.) Saturday, then meet St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) Sunday.


No. 14 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) at No. 29 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)

7:30 p.m. ET, Friday on ESPN2

This Washington Catholic Athletic Conference showdown is a rematch of a Jan. 21 game won by a shorthanded Gonzaga team 76-74.

Gonzaga’s Nate Britt II, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who has committed to North Carolina, missed that game after injuring his left calf on Jan. 14 at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., and was sidelined until last week's 75-48 win over Bishop Ireton (Alexandria, Va.). Britt came off the bench and scored 11 points with five assists.

Britt continued his comeback Tuesday night with 17 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win by the Eagles over Bishop O’Connell (Arlington, Va.). In Britt's absence, 6-6 junior forward Kris Jenkins has picked up the scoring slack.

DeMatha improved to 20-3 Tuesday with a 64-37 win over Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) and faces Bishop Ireton on Thursday before the Gonzaga showdown. The balanced Stags have five players with double-figure point averages, including 6-foot-9 junior BeeJay Anya, 6-foot-8 senior Jerami Grant and 6-foot-3 senior James Robinson. Grant is a Syracuse recruit, while Robinson has committed to Pittsburgh.

FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior shooting guard is making the most of his only year on the Warrior roster. A Georgetown recruit, he has been a consistent scoring threat as the FAB 50 No. 1 ranked Warriors have posted a 35-0 record entering the week.

Last weekend, Smith-Rivera scored 37 points to help the Warriors hold off Christ School (Arden, N.C.) 71-63 in overtime after netting 29 points in a 93-73 romp past previously unbeaten West Oaks Academy (Orlando, Fla.).

Smith-Rivera transferred to Oak Hill last summer after starting the last two seasons for Indiana power North Central (Indianapolis). He was a sophomore starter on an underclass-led Class 4A state title team and helped the Panthers advance to the 2011 state semifinals before bowing to eventual champion Bloomington South (Bloomington, Ind.).

Without Smith-Rivera, North Central is 16-4 this season and is ranked No. 3 in Indiana.

Highest-Ranked Newcomer

Trinity Christian (Lubbock, Texas)

Whether the Lions get another upset or get dumped in Saturday’s matchup in Lubbock against FAB 50 No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), they have certainly put themselves on the map this season.

Last week’s 57-56 win against previous FAB 50 No. 3 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) improved Trinity Christian’s record to 34-1 and avenged an earlier 68-55 loss to Grace Prep.

Senior guard Parker Wentz netted a game-winning shot with 3.5 seconds left and finished with 31 points. The team’s leading scorer is senior guard Dave Miller at 11.5 points per game.

Just a few years ago, it seemed impossible that a Texas school not part of the massive University Interscholastic League could be in the national rankings. With Trinity Christian going in this week, the Texas Association of Private Prep Schools (TAPPS) now has four schools in the FAB 50. The UIL has two.