The Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) held its state tournament this past weekend at The Rock School in Gainesville. On the boys side, the Regional and National level teams held their championship games on Sunday.
Boys National Finals: Sarasota Victory Rock Prep vs. Gainesville The Rock School
Both teams survived incredibly competitive semi-finals on Saturday. For Victory Rock, they were able to take out the top seed, nationally ranked Central Pointe Christian Academy. The Rock was able to get their contest against a short-handed (only six players) but feisty Calusa Prep out of Miami into overtime before pulling out a win. This set up the unusual scenario where The Rock was playing on its home floor as the visiting team.
VRP’s 6’11 junior big man, Jamine Charles scored off the opening tap to give the Blue Devils the first basket and lead of the game. The Rock answered quickly with a drive from 6’8 senior Atraiel Washington.
From there, VRP became a Very Real Problem for the host school/visiting team.
The Blue Devils erupted with a 15-1 run as 6’9 junior Prince Mosengo stepped out and knocked down a three-point shot, Charles put back a miss, and 6’0 junior Terrance Ford dropped in consecutive three-pointers. A free throw from The Rock’s Washington put the Lions back on the board but a baseline floater from Ford made the score 15-3 with fifteen minutes left in the first half, forcing The Rock to take a time-out. Kyle Duke, a 6’3 senior scored on a drive after the timeout, but a three from 6’0 senior Kevin Miller increased the VRP margin to thirteen. Washington of The Rock got the margin below double-digits after a putback and a bucket inside but a three point play from Miller made the score 21-9 with twelve minutes left in the half. Fast forward in the first half to the four-minute mark as The Rock was within ten at 38-28. VRP then hit the Lions with a 10-0 run, five of those points coming from 6’9 senior Lassina Traore. The Rock wasn’t going out without a fight. The Lions outscored VRP 8-2 during the last two minutes of the half as Martin hit a three, Duke put back teammate’s miss and 6’8 freshman Ryan Jones popped in a three. At the break, The Rock showed signs of life but was still down by fourteen, 50-36.
Victory Rock Prep continued to hold off The Rock in the second half. The Lions got to within nine, 67-58, after a driving basket from Duke, giving them life and the packed gym of partisan fans great expectations of a comeback. That didn’t happen. By the eight-minute media timeout, VRP was back up by fourteen at 74-60. Over the next four minutes, the Blue Devils increased their lead to 86-65 and the possibility of The Rock pulling out a victory was all but snuffed out. The Lions never got closer than fourteen points and Victory Rock Prep won by a final score of 95-77.
Miller of VRP was named MVP of the tournament. He finished the final game with 29 points. Backcourt running mate Ford dropped in 22 while the big man trio of Charles (15 points), Traore (14 points) and Mosengo (11 points) controlled the paint at both ends of the floor.
For The Rock, Washington led the way with 22 points. Duke added 15 points while Martin contributed 13 points and Jones finished with 12 points, all of three-point shots.
Boys Regional Final: Cooper Westlake Prep vs. Kissimmee Central Pointe Christian
Trust us when we tell you that the Regional division of the SIAA IS NOT the junior varsity. These teams would easily compete with the best FHSAA school in their area.
Westlake sprinted out quickly to a 6-0 lead and led 8-3 after the first four minutes. That lead grew to 17-6 midway thru the sixteen-minute first half. From there, the teams would play evenly and at the break, Westlake certainly looked in control, up 25-14.
Westlake maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half and with eight minutes left to play, the score was 46-36 in favor of Westlake. Then the tide began to turn with the help of the Central Point girls team (who had won the state title earlier in the day) and the young fans of The Rock School. Raising the noise level by shaking gallon milk jugs partially filled with coins and banging on plastic buckets of various sizes with drumsticks, the fans gave Central Point the energy to make a push. The White Lions peeled off a 12-5 run to get within three at 51-48 with four minutes left. However, that is as close as Central Point would get. Westlake was able to regroup and hold off Central Point to win by a score of 61-58.
Jashawne Joseph, a 6’7 junior for Westlake, was named the tournament MVP with 13 points. Saevion Brown, a 6’5 junior led the Bulldogs with 25 points. Both Daniel Mabior, a 6’10 senior and Nate Richardson, a 6’5 junior tossed in 10 points each.
For Central Point, Daniel Ntwambe, a 6’5 sophomore led the team with 18 points while 6’1 sophomore Omar Sanchez went for 16 points and 6’1 sophomore Christian Flores contributed 12 points.