Four members of MaxPreps.com's Xcellent 25 are headed to the National High School Invitational, scheduled for March 31-April 2 at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md.
Leading the way is No. 5 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)
, reportedly earning the No. 1 (brackets haven't been officially released) on the strength of a 22-1 record and impressive wins over two fellow NHSI participants.
No. 6 Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
(32-1) is also headed to Maryland after capturing a state title in dominant fashion. The Panthers also had an impressive run at the prestigious City of Palms Classic in December.
No. 11 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
(27-3) will make its third-straight appearance in the event. The Warriors were MaxPreps.com's preseason No. 1-ranked team and looked the part for much of the year until losing back-to-back games in mid-January.
No. 18 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
(28-3) is the two-time defending champion at the National High School Invitational.
Unranked teams included in the field include Winter Park (Fla.)
, United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.)
and John Carroll (Bel Air, Md.)
Winter Park captured Florida's 6A state title for the second-straight year behind national player of the year candidate Austin Rivers
and also participated in the event last season.
United Faith Christian has big wins over Oak Hill Academy and Christ School (Arden, N.C.)
, but has seven losses on the season and failed to win the NCISAA 1A state title.
John Carroll owns a glossy 33-4 record but is coming off back-to-back losses to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powers DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
and Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)
at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational. The Patriots beat St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)
for the Baltimore Catholic League title March 1.
The eighth team will be announced at a later date and speculation persists that it could be a National Federation of State High School Associations-affiliated program. States like California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio are all still in action.
The eligible team with perhaps the biggest gripe is Arlington Country Day (Jacksonville, Fla.)
, ranked No. 17 with a 21-2 record. The Apaches beat United Faith Christian Academy in late November and Georgia Class AAAAA state champion Norcross
the next day. ACD played top seed Montrose Christian to within two points in January. A blowout loss to Oak Hill Academy was the only glaring negative on the Florida independent's resume.