We headed over to Orlando Oak Ridge on Saturday to take in the 11th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Classic. Eight games were on tap and though we missed the opener with Orlando Jones downing St. Pete Lakewood, the remaining seven contests had more than their fair share of exciting moments.
Game #2: Tampa Catholic vs. Williston
The Crusaders of Tampa Catholic, who are being vastly under-rated after the move by Karter Knox to OTE, took on the reigning Class 1A champs in Williston. Playing at a fast pace and finding success from behind the arc, Tampa Catholic got off to a good start and led 19-11 after one quarter of play. The Crusaders pushed their lead to double digits early in the second quarter and with 5:49 to play in the period the Red Devils called a timeout. It didn’t help as hoped and by the end of the half, Tampa Catholic had a commanding 38-21 lead.
The Red Devils clawed back into the contest in the third period. They got the margin into single digits, 41-32, with four minutes left in the quarter. A 9-4 run by Williston got them even closer, 45-41, but the Crusaders responded with a late run to lead by seven, 50-43, going in to the fourth and final quarter. Williston kept coming and with 4:15 remaining, Reggie White hit a three to tie the game at 54-54. The Red Devils jumped in front on a bucket inside from Kyler Lamb and a transition basket by Deandre Harvey to grab a four-point lead at 58-54. It looked like the door might slam shut on Tampa Catholic after a Williston putback gave them a six-point lead. However, TC’s Jacob Rogers connected from behind the arc to make the score 60-57. Lamb scored quickly in transition and Williston got another bucket to make it a seven-point game. Isaiah Campbell-Finch connected on a three from Tampa Catholic to get to within four with forty seconds remaining. TC was now forced to foul and with the new two-shot foul rule, the opportunity for a comeback with diminished. Williston responded from the foul line and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a wild 69-62 comeback win.
Lamb led Williston with 21 points while Javon Brown added 14 points.
For Tampa Catholic, Campbell-Finch went for 22 points while Rogers added 12 points, all from behind the arc.
Game #3: Tampa Blake vs. The Villages Charter
Blake was looking to atone for their outing against Calvary Christian at last week’s Hoop Feast in Wesley Chapel. They got out of the gate quickly with a 7-0 run to start the game and led 10-3 at the midway point of the quarter. The Villages finally took a timeout at the 3:25 mark when Blake extended its lead to 13-5. The Villages made some headway but after one period of play Blake led 20-11. The second quarter did not go any better for The Villages. Midway through the period, Blake had more than doubled the score, leading 31-14 with 4:15 remining. The teams played relatively even the rest of the second and Blake led big at the break, 38-20.
Blake continued to hold a large lead in the third and midway through lead 44-23. The Villages then made a bit of a run, using extended defensive pressure and getting turnovers that turned into scores. The Villages finished out the third period with a 13-6 run to close the margin to 50-36 going into the final period. The Villages continued with the defensive pressure and it yielded results: a 10-0 run over the first three minutes of the fourth to close within four, 50-46, and causing a Blake timeout. Blake’s lead was down to three, 54-51, with two minutes when things got a bit crazy. The Villages’ Chris Washington had a breakaway slam opportunity but was fouled on the shot with 1:17 to play. The foul was ruled flagrant, so The Villages had four free throws and possession. Washington hit all four charity shots to give The Villages its first lead of the game, 55-54. They came up empty on the next possession and Blake’s Josh Lewis was fouled with forty-five seconds left. With Blake in the bonus, Lewis made both shots to give them back the lead at 56-55. The Villages looked to drive the ball to the hoop and hopefully get a call but no call came. Blake grabbed the rebound and was quickly fouled. Joe Philon connected on both free throws for Blake to make the score 58-55 with eighteen seconds remaining. The Villages was unable to connect on a couple of three-points shots and Blake held on to win by that 58-55 score.
Lewis led Blake with 22 points. Philon added 12 points.
For The Villages, Washington had 19 points while Jared Thompson finished with 10 points.
Game #4: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Gainesville The Rock School
It is always intriguing when a school from the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) take on FHSAA programs. STA may be young, starting three sophomores and a freshman but they play a tough brand of basketball. STA used a three-point shooting barrage to jump out to a 12-5 advantage midway through the first. They steadily grew that lead to 23-11 entering the second quarter. The Rock made a run, outscoring STA 9-4 to get within seven at 27-20 with 3:30 to go until the half. When the break did roll around, STA was up 30-22.
Unlike the previous two games, there was no major comeback for The Rock. STA extended its lead from eight to fifteen (44-29) by the end of the third quarter. The Rock never really challenged again and STA won going away 64-41.
St. Thomas was led by D.J. Sandi with 13 points. K.J. Sandi added 12 points while Matt Andreopolos finished with 10 points.
For The Rock, Erik Taylor led all scorers with 16 points while Austin Leslie finished with 10 points.
Game #5: Windermere vs. Orlando Lake Highland Prep
LHP came into the game without UNC-Ashville signee Julian Clarke, who was still in concussion protocol. However, that wasn’t the reason Windermere jumped to a 7-1 lead in the first four minutes of play. Windermere’s defense was stifling, limiting the Highlanders to just eight first quarter points, with the score 17-8. LHP started the second quarter with a 6-0 run to get back into the contest, but Windermere was up ten, 24-14, midway through the period. The teams played evenly the rest of the quarter and when the halftime horn sounded, Windermere led 32-21.
LHP came out on fire in the third quarter. They outscored the Wolverines 11-2 and were down just two at 34-32 with 3:30 left in the period. Windermere hung tough and still had a lead, 40-37, with one more quarter to go. Lake Highland finally took a lead at 41-40 with 6:45 left in the game but Windermere tied the game on its next possession. The lead changed hands for the next few minutes. Lake Highland Prep was able to grab a two-possession lead at 51-47 with just under two minutes to go. The Highlanders would maintain that margin the rest of the way and win by a score of 58-54.
Lake Highland Prep got 16 points each from Robert Oskarsson and Kellan Lewis. R.J. Ingram added 12 points.
For Windermere, both Ta’Veon Jones and Nathan Early each scored 15 points.
Game #6: Winter Haven vs. Orlando Olympia
A pair of 7A powers, both teams have Final Four aspirations, and this game could legitimately be a Lakeland preview.
The Titans of Olympia were quick out of the gate to start the contest. They had a 9-3 lead midway through the opening quarter and led 19-12 after the first period. Winter Haven is tough and talented. The Blue Devils didn’t go away and were down just two, 29-27, at the four-minute mark of the second quarter. When halftime came around, Olympia’s lead was just three, 36-33.
A 7-2 run by Winter Haven in the first four minutes of the third period gave them a 40-38 advantage. When the margin increased to 46-40 in favor of Winter Haven with two minutes left on the clock, Olympia took a timeout. It worked to a certain extent as the Titans cut that deficit in half, trailing by three points, 50-47, with one quarter remaining. Olympia tied the score at 50-50 on the first possession of the period and with four minutes to play the score was tied at 61-61. Olympia’s Kameren Wright completed a three-point play with 3:12 left to give the Titans a 64-61 lead. Winter Haven responded with a three from Tyrese Mayo. After an empty Olympia possession, Jamie Phillips scored inside to give Winter Haven a 66-64 lead. Two free throws from Luca Reinehr of Olympia once again tied the score. Isaac Redding of Winter Haven put back a missed shot to return the lead to the Blue Devils. Olympia failed to score on its next possession and Phillips of Winter Haven hit one of two free throws to extend its lead to 69-66 with under one minute to play. Winter Haven got another free throw to make the score 70-66. Olympia got to within three with another free throw but only 17 seconds remained and the Titans had to foul. Winter Haven held the Titans off at the foul line to win a tough one 74-69.
Winter Haven was led by Isaac Celiscar with 25 points. Phillips added 22 points and Zane Mosley finished with 10 points.
For Olympia Kaiden White had 24 points while Reinehr had 14 points and both Wright and Sean Owens each finished with 10 points.
Game #7: Orlando Christian Prep vs. Oviedo
The first four minutes of the contest seemed to be a feeling out process for both teams. The score was only 4-2 in favor of OCP after four minutes. Things picked up from there, especially for Oviedo. They began to find the mark from deep and grabbed the lead by the end of the period, 12-9. OCP got more aggressive offensively in the second quarter, getting into the bonus with five minutes left. This helped them retake the lead at 17-14 after four minutes. Oviedo was able to keep pace thanks to its three-point shooting. OCP’s margin was just four, 28-24, at the break.
OCP ripped off a 9-2 run over the course of the third quarter’s first four minutes to lead by eleven, 37-26. It would turn out to be a bad quarter at both ends of the floor for Oviedo. Their hot shooting from deep stayed in the locker room after the break and OCP’s transition game off of their defense had come alive. In all, OCP turned its four-point halftime advantage into a thirteen-point margin, 46-33, with one quarter left in the contest. Oviedo played evenly with OCP in the fourth quarter but that means they couldn’t shrink the deficit. OCP would ultimately go on to win by the score of 64-49.
OCP was led by Isaiah Brown with 24 points. Darius Washington III had 13 points and Marc Ekiri finished with 11 points.
For Oviedo, Alex Harper led the way with 20 points.
Game #8: Orlando Oak Ridge vs. Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy
The night’s finale matched up two teams that are considered among the best in the state regardless of classification. Both teams are loaded with D-I talent. Oak Ridge has three seniors that have already signed D-I scholarships for next season and a bevy of talented underclassmen that hold offers. Westminster’s starting five of four juniors and one sophomore all have multiple offers on the table.
To very few peoples’ surprise, the host Pioneers of Oak Ridge got out to a 10-4 lead after the opening four minutes. Westminster was unfazed, a grabbed a 14-12 lead with 1:45 to play in the period. When the horn sounded, it was Oak Ridge that had the lead, 17-16. The lead changed hands often in the second quarter. Neither team could make a run to put some distance between them and the opponent. At the break, Westminster led by just a bucket, 36-34.
It didn’t take but fifteen seconds for Oak Ridge to tie the game in the third quarter. Oak Ridge extended its defense and it paid off. The Pioneers led 48-44 at the midway point of the period and by six, 60-54, going into the final quarter. Westminster continued to struggle with the Pioneers defense in the fourth. Oak Ridge took advantage and with 4:43 left to play, the Pioneers led by double-digits, 69-59. Westminster looked out of gas and called a timeout. Moving forward, with 1:15 remaining, Jordan Tillery of Oak Ridge converted a three-point play to make the score 76-69 in favor of the Pioneers. Alex Lloyd of Westminster came right down the court and drilled a three-pointer to make the score 76-72 with 1:07 to go. After an Oak Ridge turnover, Dwayne Wimbley of Westminster cashed in a three-ball to get them to within one with fifty seconds remaining. Lloyd got a steal and was headed for an easy bucket to take the lead when he was fouled. The referees ruled an intentional foul which meant two shots and the ball. Lloyd hit both free throws to put Westminster up one with thirty seconds to play. Oak Ridge was now forced to foul. Alex Constanza took the hit but made only one of two free throws to make the score 78-76 in favor of Westminster with twenty-five seconds left. After a timeout, Oak Ridge got the ball to Jamier Jones. He drove to the bucket and drew a foul with fourteen seconds left. He calmly drained both free throws to tie the game at 78-78. After a Westminster timeout, they took the ball up the court against heavy defensive pressure. Constanza let loose a three with about three seconds left and it looked well short and we were going into overtime. However, Wimbley didn’t stand around to watch the ball. He channeled his inner “Lorenzo Charles” and kept moving toward the hoop. The shot was short but right into Wimbley’s waiting hands. He quickly put the ball in the hoop before time expired and Westminster pulls off a dramatic 80-78 win.
Constanza led Westminster with 19 points. Lloyd and Wimbley were right behind him with 17 points each and Jeremiah Police added 13 points.
For Oak Ridge Tyler Johnson led the way with 22 points. Jalen Reece had 17 points and Jones finished with 16 points.