Hard to believe that this is the tenth annual Metro vs. Florida Challenge. First started by Scott Williams at the then brand new Wekiva High School in Orlando, the event matches up the public school teams in the Orlando-Orange County area (a/k/a Metro) against some of the better programs from the region. When Coach Williams moved to neighboring Apopka High School, he brought this high-level event with him. It has become a great early season test for all schools involved.
Orlando Jones vs. Orlando Christian Prep
OCP is a dominant small school power in the state, but Jones, despite missing some pieces due to their football success, jumped out to a 16-11 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter, thanks to some torrid three point shooting. OCP responded with a 5-0 run to tie the contest at sixteen with 1:30 left in the quarter. The first period ended with the teams tied at nineteen.
It remained a back-and-forth contest for much of the second quarter and OCP led by just four, 30-26, midway thru. From that point, the Warriors found their groove, outscoring the Tigers 13-7, to lead by ten heading into the half.
Jones was able to stay within reach of OCP in the third quarter as it was still a game with the score 58-50 with the final period left to play. Jones fought hard, but each time they cut into the lead to make it a two possession game, OCP had an answer. With three minutes left, OCP led by nine, 69-60. Jones then started rushing shots in an attempt to catch up, but those misses led to breakouts for OCP. The Warriors extended their lead and won the game by a much-tougher-than-it-looked score of 82-66.
Orlando Christian Prep was led by Anthony Brown’s 21 points while Ven-Allen Lubin tallied 17 points and 10 boards for the Warriors. Shakur Poteat of Jones led all scorers with 31 points, going 6-12 from deep in the process.
APOPKA vs. LAKELAND SANTA FE CATHOLIC
From the time the schedule appeared for this event, we had circled this game as one that could be very competitive. We weren’t disappointed.
Both teams were a bit sluggish out the outset. Apopka led just 6-4 midway thru the opening quarter and it was 10-7 in their favor after the first eight minutes. Santa Fe grabbed their first lead at 13-12 with just over a minute gone by in the second. From there, the teams would exchange the lead on a few occasions. With the game tied at twenty-three with just under a minute to play until half-time, Apopka ripped off four straight points to go up 27-23.
Santa Fe worked to close the gap in the third quarter and finally grabbed a lead midway thru the period. However, Apopka was unphased, and tied the score at thirty-eight with two minutes to play. After an exchange of two baskets each, the contest was tied at forty-two entering the final period.
It looked like Apopka would have the edge entering that final period as they were in the double-bonus while only having just five team fouls. However, they were unable to take advantage of it and at the midway point, Santa Fe had a 49-46 lead. That lead grew to seven at 53-46 with just 1:35 left to play. Apopka was now forced to foul to get the ball back. Santa Fe was able to hold off the Blue Darters to win by the score of 57-49.
Ray Davis paced Santa Fe with 21 points while fellow seniors Jovan Bell added 16 points and Joe Stubbs tallied 13 points.
Apopka was paced by junior John Latimer with 20 points and Zach Anderson with 12 points.
ORLANDO OAK RIDGE VS. DAYTONA BEACH MAINLAND
Despite a fast pace of play to open up the game, the score was just 11-11 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. That’s when the Pioneers of Oak Ridge opened things up, finishing the quarter with a 10-4 run to lead 21-15. Oak Ridge would continue to maintain an advantage in the second quarter despite numerous runs by Mainland. Still, it stayed a six point contest heading into the break at 35-29 in favor of Oak Ridge.
The Pioneers built a double-digit lead early in the third quarter and looked ready to throw a knockout punch. However, Mainland bounced back, cutting the gap to just four at 48-44 with just under four minutes to play, then tying the game at forty-nine with just over three minutes to go in the third. The Buccaneers took their first lead a bit later at 52-51, but Oak Ridge was able to maintain its composure. It looked like the game would be tied at fifty-four going into the fourth, but a foul call on Mainland with just three-tenths of a second left in the period put Oak Ridge at the line. The Pioneers made both.
Those two free throws would be the start of a 7-0 run for Oak Ridge that would help put the game away. The Pioneers found themselves up eight at 65-56 with four minutes remaining. They would take advantage of some rushed Mainland shots in an effort to get back into the contest to go on to win comfortably, 77-64.
Oakridge was led by Michael James 19 points while Rodrick Henry added 13 and both Jalen Smith and Kaleb Thomas each added 12 points.
Mainland was led by Jordan Sears with 26 points despite being constantly double-teamed.
OTHER EVENT NOTES
*In the first game of the day, Windermere scored 64 points in the first half on its way to a dominating win over Mount Dora. This game was originally scheduled to be played earlier in the week at Mt. Dora, but school officials decided they didn’t want to host an event while school was out. Thankfully, Scott Williams and Apopka included it as the first game of Day One at the Metro vs. Florida. Class move by a class guy and organization.
*Bradley Douglas of Eustis went off for 36 points in a three point win over Timber Creek. Douglas was 4-7 from beyond the arc, alleviating concerns about his ability to score from distance coming into his senior season. He’s a D-I caliber recruit.
*Edgewater held off Lake Brantley in double-overtime. The Eagles are missing senior Michael Eads, an Appalachian State signee. He’s out with an ankle injury and his time table to return is uncertain. They also miss the firepower of Shakur Poteat, who transferred to Jones.
*We may have missed the boat in not ranking Seminole out of Sanford in our pre-season top ten for Class 7A. Despite missing three key players to football (should be back next week), Seminole put up 93 points in their game against Lake Nona. Ladarron Cleveland went off for 31 points in the contest.