We headed up to The Villages on Saturday to catch some of the marquee games from the Iverson Signature Series. Some of the more anticipated matchups did not take place as, for whatever reason, some of those teams dropped out of the event.
Windermere HS vs. Tampa Berkeley Prep
Berkeley Prep had a tremendous game on Friday night against Westminster Academy, taking them into double overtime before succumbing at the end. Berkeley Prep was able to hang tough after a short turnaround and trailed by a single point, 16-15, going into the second quarter. That is when fatigue set in for Berkeley. Windermere outscored them 24-9 in that period and led 40-24 at the break.
Things got no better for Berkeley in the second half. Down 63-34 heading into the fourth quarter, there was a real concern that the running clock rule would come into play. Windermere almost made it happen, up 70-38, with four minutes to play. Berkeley Prep made a late run against the Windermere bench to make the final score 75-50.
T.J. Drain led Windermere with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. It was a great day for the rapidly improving 6’7 junior post player. He scored at will inside and knocked down mid-range jump shots. Drain ran the floor, put back misses and swatted shots. Hopefully, this will be a good starting point from which to boost his recruiting stock come the spring and summer.
Ta’Veon Jones, a 5’9 senior for Windermere had his moments on the way to 17 points. Slick, quick, and with lots of tricks, Jones had his outside shot falling, making it that much more difficult to defend the speedster. He is near-unstoppable when he attacks the basket. Jones defends the ball and anticipates the passing lanes well.
Chalier Torres, a 6’3 senior at Windermere, gets better every time we watch him. He dropped in eleven points on Saturday, proving to be a reliable perimeter shooter off the catch as well as tough and physical off the bounce. Torres has become a proficient mid-range pull-up jump shooter and a reliable passer/ball-handler. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge on the defensive end.
Nathan Earl, a 6’2 sophomore at Windermere, finished with 14 points. He shot the ball well from beyond the arc which opened up driving lanes. Earl penetrates with a plan, making some tough shots through contact in a crowd or finding open shooters when defenses collapse on him. He is quick to rotate the ball on the perimeter to keep the defense moving.
Matt Able, a 6’5 junior for Berkeley, led the team with 13 points. By all accounts from those that have seen him play on a frequent basis, this was not his best outing. However, one has to like with what Able projects to be with good positional size, athleticism, and an attacking mindset. Able finally got some momentum in the fourth quarter with a pair of transition dunks and a deep three off the bounce, but by then Windermere had the game well in hand.
Jadus Sorhando, a 6’7 freshman for Berkeley, showed a lot of potential for a player so young. He has a big frame, soft touch, and good footwork in the post. He plays hard, runs the floor well, and will get more athletic as his body matures and strengthens. Sorhando is still learning how to defend guys his size without fouling. That should come in time.
Orlando West Oaks Academy vs. Riverview Bell Creek Academy
In a matchup between the SIAA and FHSAA, West Oaks out of the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association jumped on top early against a young but talented squad from Bell Creek Academy. Bell Creek was within striking distance, down 13-9, at the end of the first period. West Oaks got its lead to double-digits with just over three minutes remaining in the second period and led 32-19 at the break.
Bell Creek Academy made a couple of runs but never crawled out of its double-digit deficit for long. West Oaks led 56-39 with four minutes left in the game. Bell Creek Academy made one more run but still fell by thirteen, 65-52.
Jalen “Roc” Lee, a 6’5 senior, led West Oaks with 26 points. He is an excellent two-way player. Lee has very good footwork, lateral quickness and a physical toughness on the defensive end. He has the ability to score from all three levels, making tough finishes in a crowd when attacking the basket. Lee gives great energy and effort on every play, leading by example for his team.
Jermal Jones, a 6’4 sophomore, paced Bell Creek Academy with 16 points. He is a physical wing that excels at scoring inside the arc but will knock down threes if left unchallenged. A fine athlete, he attacks the glass at both ends, finishes well in transition, and doesn’t shy away from playing physically at both ends of the court.
Orlando Christian Prep vs. Hialeah Mater Lakes
This was a highly anticipated game as both teams have legitimate championship aspirations in Class 2A and 4A respectively. The first quarter was back and forth the entire eight minutes and when the horn sounded, Mater Lakes led by two, 17-15. OCP was able to gain momentum in the second period. At the four minute mark, the Warriors led by just two, 22-20. They would outscore the Bears of Mater Lakes 12-4 the rest of the way and at the break, it was a ten point, 34-24, OCP lead.
Mater Lakes clawed back in the third quarter and shaved the deficit down to four, 42-38, heading into the final period of play. A 5-0 Bears run to start the fourth quarter gave them a 43-42 lead. With just under three minutes to play, the score was tied again at 48-48. OCP was down two when Mater Lakes 5’11 freshman Khanye Moss knocked down a three-pointer to make the score 55-50 with forty seconds left to play. OCP got to within three on their next possession but simply ran out of time and was forced to foul to get the ball back. Mater Lakes made the most of their opportunities to win by a score of 58-52.
Moss led Mater Lakes with 25 points, drilling five threes in the process. He is very quick with the basketball, pushes the pace, and can play either on or off the ball. Moss uses his speed well on defense, garnering many tips, deflections, and steals. Clearly, he is a solid perimeter shooter, but he also makes good shot vs. pass decisions when attacking the defense.
Darius Washington, III a 6’4 junior from Orlando Christian Prep, had a solid game with 13 points before fouling out in the final period. He put pressure on the defense by driving hard to the basket when the opportunity presented itself. Washington was able to use his size and strength to power past defenders and score in the lane. His outside shot is a work in progress at this time. Washington rebounds and runs the floor well.