Varsity News: Montrose Christian Has High Expectations This Season

MONTROSE

This week, we take a closer look at Montrose Christian, a perennial basketball power house that is ranked as one of the top ten teams in the Nation, and catch up with the area's preeminent high-flyer in Tion Barnes of Gwynn Park.

My name is Jordan Ruby and I've been living in the DMV for five years and covering high school sports in the area for four. Varsity News is a weekly feature that reviews all the best local action in a single place, bullet pointed for easy digestion.

Montrose Christian isn't the kind of basketball program that is allowed to have an off year. You would think that after losing Josh Hairston (Duke) and Terence Ross (Washington) the Mustangs might have a little bit of a problem reloading. Apparently you don't know head coach Stu Vetter very well. He'll just go out, get the next big star in the program and keep it moving.

During the summer he got Tyrone Johnson, a big point guard who has commited to play at Villanova next fall, to transfer to Montrose from his home town Plainfield, NJ. Just like that, Vetter had the pieces in place for another nationally ranked team.

" At Montrose our expectations are very high every year," Vetter said back on December 14 after a win over St. Albans. "We've been nationally ranked now for 12 years in a row, we're the seventh-ranked team in the Country ... we're very deep and we have a chance to be an outstanding basketball team."

Vetter has the team believing in themselves as well, which is the first step in reaching your potential.

"We haven't reached 100 percent, and once I think we reach 100 percent, everyone talking, everyone playing hard, everyone playing together," Johnson said then. "I'm not gonna say ... it will be hard to stop us. We will be a really good contender for that National Championship."

It's hard to doubt them, especially now that they've raced to an 8-0 start to the season without winning a game by fewer than 15 points. They have talent up and down the roster and can beat you from any spot on the floor. When every one of your starters would be the best player on the team you're playing, and you find a way to make all that talent work cohesively together, it can be scary for the team on the other side of the floor.

Montrose Christian is one of the best teams in the country year in and year out. That's just what we should expect at this point. 

Montrose Christian Destroys St. Stephen's St. Agnes 70-42

On Tuesday night, I took my second ever trip to watch Montrose Christian. The Mustangs are ranked anywhere between 7-10 nationally depending on which agency you read and boast a lot of talent that will be playing, and playing well, at the next level.

If you had never been to Montrose before, you'd be surprised by the facilities you found. They play in a gym with a rubber court that couldn't have fit more than 300 people in it, and this was the first time I had seen it sold out. If I was working for the Montrose PR department I would call it intimate and personal, when in actuality it was more cramped then anything. It was hard to believe that one of the best teams in the Nation played in that gym.

Once the game started, though, I had no problem reaching that conclusion. The game started in hilarious fashion. The National Anthem was performed on an alto saxophone by the school's music director, and If I can borrow a line from Bruce Boudreau, he played the f*** out of it. The song lasted no fewer than four minutes, including a 45 second hold on "land of the freeeeeeeeeeee." It was totally worth it for me and the other 200 people in attendance that night. But hey, whatever makes you feel like your undergrad degree in music is going to good use.

The game was over as soon as Montrose got the ball for the first time. The big story in this particular game was Michael Carrera, an often-overlooked big man who does all the dirty work for the Mustangs. He had 20 rebounds in this game and a lot of garbage points. Justin Anderson had a big game as usually, and provided a bunch of highlight-worty plays. You can check out the highlights here.

Maybe St. Stephen's At. Agnes isn't the best measuring stick for a team as talented as Montrose, but it certainly says something that they didn't have a let down in any way. I guess if you're as good as they are, it doesn't matter what gym you call home.

Tion Barnes, Dunk Machine

At the beginning of the year, I said that Gwynn Park could be one of the best teams in the area, and that they would go as far as Tion Barnes and Brandon Ford could take them. I also said that Tion Barnes was one of the best athlete in the area. Now, we have some visual proof. Check out this little highlight package I put together.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I actually missed the best dunk Barnes had that night, a massive windmill that sent the crowd (the away crowd mind you) into a frenzy. When I told him later that week that I missed getting it on film and pleaded with him not to be mad at me, he said, "That's alright, I'll just have to get another one. I'm waiting to break the real-big one out for the home fans."

The man knows where his bread is buttered.

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