Boys Nationals Preview: HS Club
Last year's winners, the Granite Bay (CA) Grizzlies, remain a strong team but have maybe not seen the same results as last year.
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Indiana's Royal Irish were champions in 2014 and 2015 but faltered in the final in 2016. They are looking good when they have all their horses together, and they will in Kansas City.
Doylestown (PA) beat Gonzaga College (DC) High School this year and has been virtually untouchable through much of the season. The Dragons have an excellent backline. Utah's United has won a national title before. Fort Hunt (VA) is the No. 1-ranked high school club, having beaten every team its met (the Warriors split with Gonzaga).
Here is a look at each matchup in the club bracket:
Fort Hunt (VA) vs. Elsie Allen (CA)Fort Hunt has the power, the smart decision-makers, and the organization. The Warriors also have the pressure. California's Elsie Allen, a talented team that didn't get what it wanted in the playoffs, has nothing to lose. We pick Fort Hunt here, but this is what they call a banana skin.
Granite Bay (CA) vs. KC Jr. Blues (MO)The Blues have been in a lot of these tournaments, and with an organized, dedicated approach, they can bother some teams. Granite Bay has some players capable of breaking a game open. This is a very even game. We'll take Granite Bay.
Doylestown (PA) vs. United (Utah)Like the KC Jr. Blues, United has been here before. They have a lot of talent and haven't quite put it together when they want. Doylestown has a brilliant backline and a hard-nosed pack. This is another game that's hard to pick. We pick Doylestown.
West End (VA) vs. Royal Irish (IN)West End won Tier II in 2016 and did it with a lot of skill and some tough defense. But Royal Irish are a big nut to crack, and the Indianapolis team is in a position to get back to its winning ways. Watch out for Royal Irish.
So that would make semifinals of:
Fort Hunt vs. Granite Bay
Doylestown vs. Royal Irish
That's a pretty top-notch top four. At this point, it's about depth. None of these teams has the depth of some of the single-school teams, which can run a different 15 of almost equal quality in two separate games. Fort Hunt and Royal Irish have already battled through some multi-game tournament grinds. We like both of them to reach the final.
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