Next week Huntington Prep will get the chance to play for a National Championship for the first time.
Since being founded in 2009 Huntington Prep has not been able to play in the end of season championship tournament because of a lack of affiliation with the state organization, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission. But the guidelines have changed this year and Huntington Prep will play in the 2014 Dick’s High School National Basketball Tournament Championship. Huntington Prep along with seven other schools will take part in the tournament that runs from April 3rd to April 5th. Head Coach Rob Fulford said the team feels like the selection is deserved.
“I think as a team we felt we deserved to be in the tournament and I think we’ve proven that we’re one of the top teams nationally year-in and year-out and for us to be able to finally participate is a lot of pressure right now, we’ve lobbied to get in for a couple of years and now that we’re in you obviously want to go up and play well,” Fulford said.
Huntington Prep was picked as the four seed and will play the five seed La Lumiere School out of Indiana. They’ll tip-off in the opening game of the tournament Thursday April 3rd at noon. The first two rounds of the tournament will take place at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, New York. The championship game will take place at Madison Square Garden, home of the NBA’s New York Knicks. Fulford said there’s pressure to be successful especially since Huntington St. Joe’s Prep wasn’t able to participate the past two years.
Huntington Prep wrapped up its regular season March second in a win at home over Legacy Charter, a school from South Carolina. Fulford said the month lay-off does present some interesting issues in preparing for the national tournament.
“We gave the guys a week off after our last game and then we had a week of conditioning and weights, just individuals and then they had a week of spring break and now we have them in for a full week and then we’ll practice next Monday and Tuesday and then get on the road,” Fulford said.
Fulford said he’s trying to relay the message that guys on the team should not let the moment pass by without realizing it’s a rare opportunity to play for a national championship.
“This might be the only opportunity these guys get to play for a national championship and I want to put it in perspective because when they get to college that may be their only chance,” Fulford said. “I think that kind of hit home with them to understand that might hold some weight and so I think it will start to him them as it gets closer.”
The games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.