The 45th edition of the Winter Park Rotary Tip-Off Classic “tipped off” last night with a pair of games in the eight-team field. Game One featured Orlando Boone taking on Mainland out of Daytona Beach while the nightcap showcased two of Central Florida’s best teams in Orlando Olympia and Orlando Christian Prep.
Game One: Boone vs. Mainland
To be kind, both teams struggled throughout the contest. Boone held the Buccaneers scoreless for the first quarter. However, the Braves only managed to put eight points up on their side of the scoreboard in that same time period. Both teams did better in the second quarter. Mainland finally got on the board but Boone had increased its lead to 16-4 by the midway point of the period. When halftime came, Boone was comfortably up by a score of 21-7.
Mainland showed a glimpse of promise in the third quarter. They got to within ten points with an 11-5 run over the final five minutes to make the score 28-18 going into the final period of play. However, the Buccaneers would not get much closer and Boone headed into Friday night’s semi-final with a 41-27 win.
Boone got ten points each from Jack Candelaria and Ched James.
Mainland was paced by Corey McDonald with 8 points.
Game Two: Olympia vs. OCP
This was a surprising first round match-up as both teams are considered top five in Central Florida. The Warriors of OCP came into the game with a 48-game winning streak dating back to 2019 while Olympia was coming off a fifty-point shellacking of a Bartow team that will be much better come the end of the season. Had either of the two teams been on the other side of the bracket, it would have surprised absolutely no one if they met in the championship game on Saturday.
Not a lot of points were put on the board early on. Midway through the opening quarter, the score was only 4-3 in favor of OCP. Thirty seconds later, the scored was tied at 6-6. Olympia grabbed its first lead at 11-9 with just under two minutes to play and led 15-11 at the end of the period.
The Titans of Olympia continued to play well into the second quarter. A 10-4 run over the course of the first four minutes gave them a 25-15 advantage. The Warriors responded with six straight points to close the first half down four at 25-21.
The third quarter would prove to be a back-and-forth affair but Olympia continued to control the lead. OCP eventually tied the score at 28-28 with 2:23 to go in the period and took the lead roughly thirty seconds later off a steal and score. Olympia could have folded but did not. Tied at 34-34 with the ball and time running out in the quarter, Josh Meo of Olympia connected on a three to give the Titans a three-point lead heading into the final period. It would prove to be a big shot.
The Titans used the momentum of the that three go on a 12-3 run during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. With the score 49-37, and with no shot clock, there was real concern the Warriors of OCP would not be able to mount a comeback. That wasn’t the case. OCP extended their defense, forced some turnovers, and chipped away at the lead. With just over a minute to play and down seven at 49-42, OCP’s A.J. Brown connected on a three that had no business going in. Another quick turnover by Olympia gave the ball back to the Warriors and they capitalized with a three from Isaiah Brown to bring them to within one, 49-48, with forty-five seconds left. Once again, OCP forced a turnover. However, this time, Olympia made up for it with a block and recovered the ball. The Titans were able to handle the OCP defensive pressure this time. OCP had not yet put Olympia in the bonus and was forced to foul quickly. Finally with 11.5 seconds left, OCP fouled Kevin Charles and sent him to the line. He banked the first one in but missed the second, making the score 50-48. OCP opted not to take a time out. It proved costly as a penetrate-and-kick opportunity for a shot turned into a turnover with just a few ticks left on the clock. OCP didn’t have enough time to foul and get the ball back and the Titans ended the Warriors’ win streak with a 50-48 thriller.
Olympia’s Edgerrin James, Jr. led all scorers with 20 points. He got support from Meo who hit five threes for 15 points.
For OCP, Ven-Allen Lubin led the way with 18 points while A.J. Brown finished with 13 points (10 in the second half) and Isaiah Brown added 12 points.