Whitfield, CBC set to play in American Heart Association Showcase at Maryville
By: Warren Mayes
Whitfield and CBC will be competing in the annual Private-Public American Heart Association Showcase for high school boys basketball.
Maryville University will be the site for showcase set for Saturday (Feb. 2). The four-game event will feature exciting matchups of top teams in the St. Louis area.
Here is the schedule:
* Whitfield vs. Ladue – Noon.
* Maplewood-Richmond Heights vs. Duchesne – 1:30 p.m.
* St. Louis University High vs. Webster Groves – 3 p.m.
* CBC vs. Hazelwood Central – 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at each of the participating schools. The cost is $5 prior to the event and $7 at the door. Seating is limited.
This will be the second year for the Private-Public American Heart Association Showcase, an event created by Mike Potsou, the Whitfield varsity boys basketball coach and assistant director of athletics; and Hazelwood Central coach Josh Martin.
“When Josh and I developed the idea for this event, our goal was to showcase great basketball from local private and public schools while also serving a greater good in the community,” Potsou said. “We are excited to partner with the American Heart Association again this year and a generous donation will be made to their organization after the event. If you enjoy watching basketball, you don’t want to miss the Private-Public American Heart Association Showcase.
“It is nice to know that schools and coaches can come together, create a wonderful event for high school basketball fans and in addition you help generate awareness and money for a charity.”
CBC coach Bob McCormack said he his happy to have his Cadets involved in the event.
“This is another great cause,” McCormack said. “It’s our first time in this and we’re happy to play in it. Mike Potsou called us. It was Hazelwood Central’s home game and we moved it to Maryville.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer. It’s for a good cause and the game is a good matchup and we get to play in a college arena.”
The game will be a rematch of the 35th annual Meramec Holiday Festival High School Basketball Tournament. Hazelwood Central won 59-45 on Dec. 30.
“It’s kind of a revenge game for us,” McCormack said. “Wee did have a bulls-eye on us as the No. 1 seed. It was one of those deals where they got out fast in the game and took it to us. This will be good classic high school game. It will be fun for the kids.”
Potsou’s Warriors played in the first event last year that was held at Hazelwood Central.
He said Whitfield is happy to be involved again and playing Ladue.
“Anytime you can play a high quality opponent, you know your team will be challenged,” Potsou said. “That in itself is what is exciting about the upcoming game. It is nice to be associated with such a high quality event with four quality games. The fact that six of the eight teams involved in this event are ranked speaks to that.”
Maryville has been so gracious during this entire process, Potsou said.
“They have a wonderful facility and an excellent athletic department lead by Marcus Manning,” Potsou said. “Many of the teams in this year’s event have a good chance of making a run to Columbia. Playing on a college court will provide them with some experience to draw from should anyone make it to the Final Four.”
Whitfield has experience in playing in college arenas. The Warriors played in the Final Four in 2009 and 2010.
“Our players had the opportunity to practice and play on a college court. To prepare for the Final Four at Mizzou Arena, we held a few practices at local universities to help acclimate our team to the size difference,” Potsou said. “I am glad we had that chance because the kids certainly noticed a difference.”
Playing Ladue at noon will be no problem, Potsou said.
“The time is never a concern,” Potsou said. “You always have to be ready to play and compete.”
His Warriors will hands their hands full playing the Rams.
“They are good. They have a top notch high school point guard, two bigs, and several guards who are athletic and can shoot the ball,” Potsou said. “I watched them beat CBC and they have a lot of quality players and can beat you a number of different ways.”
The two teams are familiar with each other. Whitfield has the Rams on the regular season schedule and sometimes have played them in the MICDS and D.C. Wilcutt tournaments.
“Two years ago, we played each other three games within a period of about nine days,” Potsou said. “Each time we have played them it has been a quality game.”
The Warriors have lost some key players to injuries. Out will be 6-foot-5 junior forward Dimitri Rucker, 6-4 senior guard Justin Thomas, and 6-2 freshman guard DeVaughn Rucker.
“Unfortunately, we have lost some key pieces to this year’s team due to some injuries,” Potsou said. “Justin Thomas is having a fantastic year, and in my eyes, is one of the top scorers in St. Louis. He is so versatile and can score a number of different ways. He is one of the most skilled 6-5 guards I have seen in a long time. He just needs to gain some weight. Justin has put up some big numbers versus some good teams and I am happy he is having a breakout year and gaining some college interest.”
However, when someone gets hurt, someone has to step up. That’s been the case at Whitfield.
“Given our injuries, it has forced some of our younger players to play more significant minutes and some of our juniors to be more dominant on the offensive and defensive end of the floor,” Potsou said. “Because of that, all of our underclassmen are gaining valuable experience and becoming better individual players. This will help us for next year and for years to come.”