The last week of the regular season is a busy one as we attempt to watch teams and players that have been having a solid season but we haven’t been able to check out. Such was the case last night when we took in the Edgewater/Winter Garden matchup. We had not seen Edgewater at all this season and the Eagles have performed well, currently ranked fifth in Class 6A per the FHSAA power rankings.. The last time we saw the Warriors of West Orange, it was the first event of the pre-season, way back in mid-November. A lot has changed since then as the team has acquitted itself well, currently ranked sixth in Class 7A in the “district of death” where four of the seven teams are ranked in the top ten in Class 7A.
Both teams were as cold from the floor as the temperature was outside in the early going. The score was only 4-4 after four minutes of action. The action quickly picked up at that point as both teams found success on the offensive end. West Orange found a bit more and led 16-12 at the end of the opening period. The Warriors continued to stay in control in the second period, slowly stretching their lead. The Eagles of Edgewater never let them get ahead by double-digits, but neither could they close the gap to a single possession. When the half-time horn sounded, West Orange was up six at 34-28.
It looked like the Warriors were going to take control of the contest early in the third period. Thanks to a 9-1 run, the score was 45-29 just a few minutes in. After a timeout by Edgewater, the Eagles put together a run of their own, 11-0, to pull within 45-40 with four minutes left in the quarter. The game continued to get more interesting from there as Edgewater got to within two points, 52-50, with 1:15 remaining. West Orange was able to maintain its lead and was up 54-52 with eight more minutes left to play.
Edgewater tied the game on the first possession of the fourth quarter. From there, the lead would change hands several times. At the midway point of the final period, Edgewater led by a bucket, 66-64. That’s when things got interesting. Jack Main of West Orange converted a three-point play to return the lead to the Warriors by a point with 3:45 to play. Edgewater wasted no time as Tre Simmons hit a three to make the 69-67 in favor of the Eagles. The Warriors’ Mike McCallister brought them back to within a point after hitting one of two free throws and then Joanes Polynice connected on a three to give the Warriors a 71-69 lead with 1:45 to play. Jaylen Smith of Edgewater hit a long two to tie the game on the Eagles’ next possession. That was offset by a long two from Marcus Allen of West Orange. West Orange increased their lead from the free throw line as McCallister connected on four free throws after being fouled by Edgewater to stop the clock. With twenty seconds left, West Orange was up 77-71 and looked in good shape. However, Smith came down and hit a quick three for Edgewater with fourteen seconds left to make it a one possession game. Edgewater tried for a steal on the inbounds but ultimately had to foul E.J. Yorke of West Orange to stop the clock. He hit both free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining. Edgewater was unable to connect on a quick three at the buzzer and West Orange was able to hold on for a 79-74 win.
The Warriors were led by Polynice with 27 points. McAllister added 20 points and both Allen and Yorke each finished with 12 points.
Smith led Edgewater with 25 points. Simmons finished with 18 points and Patrick Kanyamuhanda finished with 14 points.