National Hoopfest back this weekend at Berkeley Prep

East Lake's Dionte Blanch, a three-star recruit heading to Murray State next year, will play in this week's prestigious ARS/Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest at Berkeley Prep.

One of the region’s top high school boys basketball tournaments comes back this week when Berkeley Prep hosts ARS/Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest Friday and Saturday.

The annual event features some of the best programs from the Tampa Bay area and beyond and 2020 is no different. Twelve teams are scheduled to play eight games during the two-day event and six of those squads are ranked among the top 15 in the state, according to MaxPreps.com.

Headlining the list of participants are Montverde Academy and IMG Academy, ranked as the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, on MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. They square off Friday at 8 p.m., marking the third meeting this season. Montverde beat the Ascenders 63-55 at the City of Palm Classic in Fort Myers on Dec. 23 and again earlier this month, 76-64, at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.

The four other top 15 state-ranked participants are Orlando West Oaks Academy (No. 4), East Lake (No. 8), Orlando Christian Prep (No. 11) and Tampa Catholic (No. 13).

Huntington Prep is the top-ranked team in West Virginia and one of two out-of-state players this weekend, joined by Cornerstone Christian from San Antonio, Texas.

East Lake is one of two Pinellas County representatives in the field and looking for a late-season signature win over Orlando Christian Prep (17-2), ranked No. 1 in Class 2A. That game is set for 3 p.m., Saturday.

St. Petersburg (15-6) is one of four teams playing both days. The Green Devils open National Hoopfest play against Cornerstone Christian at 5 p.m., Friday. St. Pete then plays Saturday’s first game at 12 p.m., getting a big challenge against West Oaks Academy. The Flame scored a massive victory last night by beating national No. 2 Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, 86-81.

According to the tournament website, www.nationalhoopfest.com, the event was established in 2011 as the Penny Hardaway Classic. It’s been played in multiple cities over the years. This year’s Tampa tournament follows National Hoopfest Memphis, Jan. 2-4. It’s alumni list is impressive, including current NBA players like Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell, Ben Simmons and Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox.

ARS/RESCUE ROOTER NATIONAL HOOPFEST TAMPA

FRIDAY

5:00 – St. Petersburg vs. Cornerstone Christian (Texas)

6:30 – Berkeley Prep vs. Huntington Prep (W. Va.)

8:00 – IMG Academy vs. Montverde Academy

SATURDAY

12:00 – St. Petersburg vs. West Oaks

1:30 – Tampa Prep vs. Oak Ridge

3:00 – East Lake vs. Orlando Christian Prep

4:30 – Berkeley Prep vs. Cornerstone Christian

6:00 – Tampa Catholic vs. Huntington Prep