Crowley, team headed to national showdown

Crowley during a game with Memphis East earlier this year.
Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

A West Point athlete will get a chance to show off his skills on a national stage next month when his basketball team competes in the prestigious GEICO High School Basketball Nationals in New York.

The event, April 4-6, features eight of the top high school teams in the country.

That includes West Point native Austin Crowley and the 14th-ranked Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas.

Sunrise opens the tournament April 4 against second-ranked McEachern High School from Powder Springs, Ga. The game will be televised at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.

McEachern won the Georgia state title and is 32-0, including a 50-46 double overtime win in January over Sunrise Christian in the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions.

Other teams in the elite field include No. 1 La Lumiere, Ind., No. 3 Montverde, Fla., No. 4 IMG Academy from Florida, No. 9 Oak Hill Academy from Virginia, No. 10 Wasatch Academy from Utah, and No. 21 NSU University School from Florida.

All games in the tournament are televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Seven of the nation’s 15 McDonald’s All-Americans will participate in the tournament and numerous college signees, including the 6-foot, 6-inch, 185-pound Crowley, who has signed to play at Vanderbilt. Crowley was nominated for the McDonald’s honor.

A shooting guard, he is ranked as the 121st player in the country and in the top 20 at his position. At Vandy, he will join fellow freshman Scotty Pippen, the son of the NBA legend by the same name.
Pippin and Crowley have played against each other in the past.

“I can’t wait to get on campus,” he said.

For now, Crowley is home in West Point on spring break and looking forward to the opportunity to show the nation his team’s abilities.

“I may be playing in Kansas, but West Point is home, it always will be. I just wanted and opportunity to get better and Sunrise offered that. And losing to McEachern is an incentive now,” said Crowley, the son of James and Amy Crowley.

“I think we are a better team now than when we played them in January. We all better understand our roles. Giving them their first loss would be big for our program and show that we are in New York to win the tournament,” he continued.

It’ll also be his first time in New York.

“I can’t wait,” he stated emphatically.

The team will start practicing when members return from spring break next week.

This is the first GEICO Nationals appearance for the independent high school program at Sunrise Christian, which finished the season 26-4. With a reputation for never shying away from top national competition, the team recorded wins over Duncanville (Texas), Guyer (Texas), Imhotep Charter (Pa.), Findlay Prep (Nev.), Memphis East (Tenn.) and NSU University School this year.