Spire’s Isaiah Jackson goes in for a slam. Prolific Prep defeated Spire Academy 94-59 in Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Flyin’ to the Hoop: What to know about 18th annual basketball showcase

If the Miami Valley’s mild winter continues, that will be just fine with the Flyin’ To The Hoop folks. Last year’s snowy weekend created a scheduling nightmare when some teams couldn’t make it to town.

The forecast for this year’s 18th annual showcase of top high school talent is otherwise the same: wall-to-wall basketball, some of the nation’s best high school players and several top area teams.

The action of 20 games and 38 teams in four days begins at Fairmont High School’s Trent Arena at 6:30 p.m. Friday and finishes around 10 p.m. Monday night. Doors open Friday at 5:30. The Saturday-Monday sessions tip at 11:30 a.m. with doors opening at 10:30.

»RELATED: Saturday’s high school roundup

All reserved seats are sold. The last chance to buy general admission tickets online is 8 p.m. Monday. The four-day pass is $60, Friday’s session is $10 and the other three sessions are $18. After Monday, tickets will be for sale at participating schools and River Valley Credit Union branches. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door. The earlier you come the better chance you have of getting a ticket. Most sessions sell out at some point. Flyin’ To The Hoop’s Facebook and Twitter accounts will post sellout announcements.

Here’s what to watch for each day:

Friday

Roll out the red carpet for the opening night doubleheader. Four national powers are coming to town and bringing eight 5-star, 14 4-star and four 3-star players with them.

Typically a local game is on the Friday schedule, but travel schedules created Friday’s lineup.

“There was no way I wanted to pass up the chance for these matchups,” said Flyin’ President Eric Horstman. “The basketball crazy fans in the area understand the talent that is coming because Friday night is selling faster than any other day.”

Prolific Prep of California is back again with a 5-star backcourt. Jalen Green, a 6-foot-5 senior from California, is the No. 3 player in the ESPN 100 and undeclared. Nimari Burnett, a 6-3 guard from Chicago, is the ESPN No. 21 player and has signed with Texas Tech. Prolific also has Big Ten signees Coleman Hawkins of Illinois and Mawot Mag of Rutgers.

If you saw Legacy Christian of Xenia play last year, you might remember Mike Sharavjamts from Mongolia. Sharavjamts left Xenia for Prolific and now he’s a 6-8 sophomore and contributing to this star-studded team.

Prolific faces a familiar foe in the night’s second game in Huntington Prep of West Virginia. Prolific overcame injuries to Burnett, Hawkins and Mag to defeat Huntington 58-52 right before Christmas. Huntington is led by 5-star forward Jaemyn Brakefield, a Duke signee and ESPN’s No. 28 player, and Michigan State signee A.J.Hoggard, a 6-2 point guard.

Don’t be late for the 6:30 opener. Hillcrest Prep is bringing four uncommitted 5-stars from Arizona, including 6-11 center Makur Maker, the No. 10 player in the ESPN 100. And they have 4-stars Puff Johnson, who is headed to North Carolina, and Dalen Terry who is staying close to home at Arizona.

ISA Andrews Osborne, a second-year program from Willoughby, Ohio, has risen quickly to the national level with four 4-stars. This would have been a chance to see junior guard and Ohio State commitment Meechie Johnson again, but he is out with a knee injury. Johnson played at Flyin’ last year with Garfield Heights and made the all-tournament team.

Not that these teams will often need it but they will play a 30-second shot clock.

Saturday

Beavercreek (8-5) and Carroll (10-3) start the day with a matchup of two of the area’s traditionally strong girls programs. Then it’s back to the boys.

Alter (8-1) faces Cleveland Heights Lutheran East, ranked No. 6 in Division II. The No. 10 Division II Knights pulled off the big tournament upset of Chaminade Julienne last year and haven’t looked back since an opening loss this season. Brady Uhl, a 6-1 senior guard, averages 20.2 points for the Knights. Lutheran East counters with 3-star Jalin Billingsley, a 6-7 forward with an offer from West Virginia.

Wayne (7-3) brings a young team into the nightcap against Grayson, a top high school team from Georgia. Grayson boasts 5-star Deivon Smith, a 5-11 point guard headed to Mississippi State.

If you miss Huntington on Friday, it will be back for the 6:30 game against Lakewood St. Edward.

Sunday

Division II defending state champ and 9th-ranked Trotwood-Madison (10-1) faces Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at 3 p.m. The Irish lost in the Division I state final to Cincinnati Moeller, but they are back in Division II this year and ranked No. 1 in the state. They are led by 4-stars Malaki Branham, a 6-5 junior, and Sencire Harris, a 6-3 sophomore. Carl Blanton is averaging 30 points for the Rams.

Crestwood Prep of Ontario is coming with 5-star freshman Elijah Fisher. He’s a 6-6 combo guard and being called the greatest player to come out of Canada.

The night wraps up with Centerville and 3-star 6-9 center Mo Njie, who leads the Elks with 12 points and 6 rebounds a game. The Elks are 4-7 against a challenging schedule and face top national team AZ Compass from Arizona.

Monday

Eleven of the 12 teams in action are from Ohio. The most interesting matchup is the return of Spire Academy’s Ra’Heim Moss to take on his alma mater Springfield. Most of Springfield’s starters played with Moss last year. Moss recently committed to Toledo and is averaging 18 points, six assists, six rebounds, three steals, one block and two turnovers. And he can dunk with anybody.

Thurgood Marshall is 8-5 and is coming off two impressive outings to start the new year — a one-point win over Springfield and a three-point loss at Trotwood.

Chaminade Julienne (6-5) is also in action and host school Fairmont (4-6) plays in the final game.

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