The FHSAA pre-season doesn’t start until this coming Monday, but the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association (SIAA) opened its season last night. We headed down the road just a bit from the Source Hoops Chalet to catch one of the “O.G.” SIAA programs, West Oaks Academy, take on first-year squad Academy of Central Florida.
For those unaware, SIAA teams play nine-minute quarters and a 30-second shot clock. West Oaks jumped ahead 9-2 after the first 3:30 of play, with six of those points coming from 6’4 senior Gavin Dunn. The Golden Bulls were able to regroup and countered with an 8-3 run to draw within two, 12-10, with 3:30 left in the quarter. Both teams picked up the tempo from there as each squad scored nine points over the remainder of the quarter. After the first nine, West Oaks led by just two, 21-19.
West Oaks continued to hold a slim lead over ACF for the first few minutes of the second period. With 5:30 left and the Flames holding a 25-24 lead, 6’9 senior Ibrahima Traore threw down a dunk. This ignited a 7-2 spurt by West Oaks to put them up six, 32-26, with 2:30 left until the break. Unlike the first quarter, neither team got going in those final two minutes and West Oaks led by eight 34-26 at the break.
ACF got some hot three-point shooting from 6’3 junior Nick Albino to close the gap early in the third quarter. West Oaks was able to hold off the Golden Bulls and led by four, 41-37, with 5:30 left to play in the period. The Flames would extend their lead to 50-42 with 2:15 remaining but once again Albino began making shots from deep for ACF. This sparked a 10-5 run by ACF to end the quarter. It was anybody’s game with the score 55-52 heading into the final period.
The teams continued to fight tooth and nail and ACF drew to within one, 57-56, with 5:30 left in the game. At that point, the tide turned. West Oaks struggles at the offensive end allowed ACF to get some easy baskets. A 9-4 run by the Golden Bulls gave them their first lead of the contest, 65-61, with 2:50 left to play. That lead extended to six on the next ACF possession, but it came at a cost. Justin Roman, a 6’7 sophomore and de facto point guard, went down clutching an ankle. His absence breathed life in the Flame. With the benefit of a shot clock, West Oaks made a run, tying the game at 67-67 with two free throws from 6’5 senior Maliq Sosa with eleven seconds left in the contest. The Golden Bulls pushed the ball up the floor and called a timeout to set a play. Once the ball was inbounded, Savian Stewart, a 6’0 freshman, came off a ball-screen and drove the lane. With the defense converging, he dropped a pocket pass to 6’5 junior Alikai Creque, who dunked home an easy bucket. West Oaks immediately called timeout with six seconds left on the clock. ACF extended its defense to force West Oaks to catch the ball deeper in the backcourt. The pass wasn’t handled cleanly and a shot from just beyond half-court was just off target. The Academy of Central Florida won its first ever SIAA game by the score of 69-67.
ACF was led by Albino with 22 points, 18 of those coming from behind the arc. Stewart finished with 18 points while Roman added 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Dunn led West Oaks with 23 points while Traore added 12 points.