Photo Courtesy News Press
Some might call this “The Battle for Florida” as Calvary and DP are considered the two best “non-academy” schools in the state. However, who is one and who is two depends on who you ask. The Ball is Life FAB 50 has Calvary Christian as the #11 team in the country and the Panthers of Dr. Phillips #21. However, the Florida High School Activities Association (FHSAA) and its “algorithm” have DP as the #1 overall team in the state while Calvary somehow clocks in at #4. Both teams were in the City of Palms in December, with DP earning the Consolation Bracket championship while Calvary finished fifth, its only loss to Milton out of Georgia. Calvary received a bye into this semi-final game while DP had a tough win over national #20 Long Island Lutheran the day before. When the teams hit the floor for the opening tip, there will be no less than seven high-major college recruits on the floor. Let the Battle begin!
Taylor Hendricks of Calvary dunked off a set play after the opening tip to give the Eagles of Calvary the lead. That didn’t last long as Dr. Phillips went on a 9-0 run as Jordan Tillery scored inside, Riley Kugel connected on a three, Denzel Aberdeen put back a miss and Ernest Udeh did likewise. Brenan Lorient finally stopped the bleeding for Calvary with a putback but a mid-range jumper and a slam after a baseline drive from Kugel gave the Panthers of Dr. Phillips a 13-4 lead at the 3:14 mark. Carl Cherenfant scored for Calvary but a three from Kugel and a steal and score by Udeh, which included a behind-the-back dribble in the open floor, gave DP a twelve-point lead. Hendricks knocked down a three for Calvary but after a bucket inside from Udeh, DP lead 20-9 at the end of the first quarter.
A 9-2 run by Calvary over the first three minutes of the second quarter got them back in the contest. Two mid-range jumpers from Marvel Allen and a pair of baskets from Hendricks, one ending in a three-point play got the Eagles to within 22-18. A three-point play from Kugle gave DP some breathing room but Cherenfant hit two free throws and Hendricks hit one to get back to within four. Kugel scored on a drive for DP and Carter McDole scored at the rim to push the Panther lead to 29-21. Calvary got a putback basket from Tyler Hendricks to close out the half down six at 29-23.
Both teams started the third quarter sluggish. Gregg Glenn finally got Calvary on the board with a putback but Jackson Slater did likewise for DP to keep the margin at six. At that point, the Eagles of Calvary put together a 6-0 run as Chrenfant scored twice and Taylor Hendricks put back a miss to tie the game at 31-31 with just under five minutes left in the quarter. The teams traded baskets to keep the tie than after DP went up by two on a Kugel jumper, Calvary took the lead on a three from Glenn. It didn’t last long as the Panthers closed out the quarter with a floater from Aberdeen and then a lob slam by Udeh to give them a 39-36 lead going into the fourth period.
Calvary tied the game at 40-40 after the first minute and a half of play. Lorient scored from mid-range to give Calvary the lead but Kugle tied it with a drive for DP. The teams traded baskets and then Calvary scored six straight as Tyler Hendricks slammed home an offensive rebound, Lorient threw down a lob and he threw down another dunk inside to give the Eagles a 50-44 lead with just under a minute to play. Kugle of DP answered quickly, hitting two free throws and later putting back a miss to get the Panthers to within two at 50-48 with thirty-two seconds to play. Now DP had to foul to stop the clock. Taylor Hendricks hit two free throws and after a DP turnover, Allen hit two more to make the score 54-48 with sixteen seconds left. Aberdeen hit a three for DP with ten seconds left to cut the margin in half. With no timeouts, DP couldn’t stop the clock. The Panthers caught a break and Calvary turned the ball over after inbounding it, but the Panthers weren’t able to connect on a final shot. The Eagles win by the score of 54-51.
Taylor Hendricks led Calvary with 17 points in front of future college coach Johnny Dawkins of UCF. Cherenfant added 12 points while Allen finished with 10 points.
For DP, Kugle led all scorers with 24 points. Udeh finished with 15 points.