This has been a much-anticipated matchup at the Source Hoops Hacienda since schedules started appearing in October. Snyder is one of many contenders in Class 3A and was very impressive at the Jacksonville Jackson Pre-Season Tip-Off. Orlando Christian Prep is a HEAVY favorite in Class 2A. Both teams have several college-level players and are solid at both ends of the floor. The game turned out to be everything we hoped for and more.
A steal and score by OCP’s Omar Figueroa got the Warriors on the board first. It didn’t take long for the Bishop Snyder Cardinals to answer with a three from Jalen Gilmore. A three-point play from Josh Blazquez and a free throw from Figueroa doubled up the score. Justin Hicks of Snyder tied the game with a three and then gave the Cardinals a 9-6 lead with another three from nearly the exact same spot. Ocyper Owens of OCP knocked down one of two free throws but the three-point parade kept going for Synder as Hicks hit his third three in a row. A.J. Brown scored on a drive to draw within two at 12-10 but another three for Snyder, this one from Trent Walker, made it a five-point margin. OCP responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by a three from Figueroa to grab a 17-15 lead. With time running down in the quarter, Gilmore hit a three to give Snyder an 18-17 lead after one quarter of play.
Early in the second quarter, the score was tied at 22-22. An offensive putback by Ven-Allen Lubin of OCP and a pair of free throws from Brown gave the Warriors a two-possession lead. Back came the Cardinals with another three-point attack. Gilmore hit from behind the arc as did Austin Lewis. Snyder now had a 28-26 lead with just under four minutes to play in the half. A dunk off a lob to Lubin and a free throw by Camden Easley returned the lead to OCP but just briefly as Gilmore hit another three for Snyder. OCP rolled out a 6-0 run at that point, five of those points from Brown, to make the score 35-31. A rare two-point basket inside by Lewis of Snyder pulled the Cardinals to within two, but a driving score from Brown made the score 37-33 at the break.
Two free throws from Snyder’s Manuk Lual brought them to within two but OCP got a dunk inside from Jayden Hastings to respond. A three from Walker made it a one-point game until Lubin of OCP scored inside. Another Walker three tied the score at 41-41. At that point, OCP reeled of six consecutive points as Blazquez scored on a drive and Brown dunked one in transition and later connected on two free throws. With four minutes to play in the third, OCP had its biggest lead of the game, 47-41, and Synder called a time-out. It worked, as the Cardinals quickly got the margin to within two after a driving score from Gilmore and two free throws from Walker. OCP finally responded with a bucket on the break from Blazquez, but a mid-range jumper from Hicks made the score 49-47 in favor of OCP going into the final period.
The Warriors got some breathing room as they opened the quarter with a 9-3 run. A three from Owens got it started and it finished with a Brown transition basket. Meanwhile, Snyder could only get a free throw and a bucket inside from Moise Balunga. With the score now 58-50, Snyder took a time out to re-group. After an exchange of baskets, Snyder got on a run of their own. Gilmore had a steal and score, Hicks hit another three, and Balunga scored on a drive. Now it was just a one-point game, 60-59. With under a minute to play and OCP leading by one at 62-61, Blazquez hit a floater for OCP. A missed three by Snyder forced the Cardinals to have to foul. Brown hit both free throws with fifteen seconds left to put the margin at five points. Hicks scored quickly for Snyder to get within three at 66-63 with six seconds left and the Cardinals quickly stopped the clock with a foul. Brown of OCP once again hit both free throws with just over three seconds left, locking the game up for the Warriors. Lewis hit a three for Snyder just before the final horn to make the final score OCP 68, Bishop Snyder 66.
Brown led OPC with 21 points. Figueroa added 13, Lubin finished with 12 and Blazquez tallied 11 for the Warriors.
Both Hicks and Gilmore scored 18 points for Bishop Snyder. Walker added another 13 points to the cause.