The last day of the high school regular season took us to Ocala Vanguard for the Vince Murray Memorial Challenge Presented by Nike Team Florida. This two-game event was established several years ago by Nike Team Florida to honor the memory of Vince Murray, the former Ocala Star-Banner Sports Editor and pioneer in Florida High School basketball recruiting. Much of what you see on the internet today was being done by Vince, only thirty years ago and via “snail mail”. If a college coach was wanting to recruit players in Florida, Vince was the first person to be contacted.
The first game featured The Villages Charter taking on The Rock School out of Gainesville and the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association. The Rock was coming off a tough five point victory at West Oaks on Friday night. Near the end of that game, starting point guard and mid-major prospect B.J. Greenlee suffered a leg injury and it was determined that he would sit out the game. Through in the fact that nationally-ranked Lynn Kidd, a 6’9 forward, would again sit out with an injured ankle, and the Lions would be coming in a bit short-handed.
That didn’t matter as the first two minutes was a flurry of action. Both teams hit back-to-back-to-back threes in rapid succession to make the score 9-9 early on. That pace was kept up the entire opening quarter as both teams seemed to have little problem getting the ball past extended pressure. After one quarter of play, The Villages was up 21-19 and a near sell-out crowd was highly entertained and energized.
The second found both teams come back down to earth in terms of point production. The Villages had upped their lead to five at 29-24 midway thru the quarter. The extended defensive pressure of The Villages began to affect The Rock and the Lions’ turnovers became points for The Villages. By the end of the first half, The Villages was up seven at 35-28.
The Buffalo quickly established a double digit lead in the third period and by the midway point was up big at 54-38. The Rock pulled themselves together and mounted a 7-0 run to get back to within single digits at 54-45 with 1:45 left in the third. When the horn sounded to end the period, that nine point margin was maintained with the score 54-45 in favor of The Villages.
Try as they might The Rock was never able to mount a serious run to get back to within striking distance. The Villages would go on to win by a final score of 78-73.
Tre Mann led The Villages with 21 points. Terry Ivery added 17 while Brandon Farmer finished with 16 points.
For The Rock, Jaden Campbell had a game-high 22 points while Darden Kapiti finished with 17, Alec Ogelsby had 14 and Kyle Duke added 12 points.
The second game featured Ocala Vanguard taking on IMG Academy-Blue. It was a homecoming of sorts for freshman Eric Dailey, Jr. of IMG-Blue. His father is on the Vanguard Wall of Fame in the gym and played professionally overseas for many seasons. Daily grew up in Ocala before going off to IMG.
The game started much slower than the first one and Vanguard found itself up 9-5 after the first four minutes of play. IMG grabbed its first lead at 14-13 with just over one minute to play and led by three at 17-14 going into the second quarter.
IMG would carry a small lead thru much of the second period. Vanguard would get back to within a point or two but each time the Ascenders answered to make it a two-possession game. At the half, IMG led 32-25.
The third period was much like the second with IMG maintaining a lead through out. In the fourth quarter, IMG opened with a 10-3 run over the first three minutes to push the score to 60-46, forcing a Vanguard timeout. The gave IMG a sizeable cushion which Vanguard would not overcome. At the 3:47 mark the crowd got what it came to see as Daily, Jr. paid homage to his dad with a forceful windmill jam. Vanguard would close the gap a bit at the end but IMG would still win by double-digits at 72-61.
Dailey led IMG with 28 points. Javier Trell added 12 while both Marhi Strickland and Nic Mylonas each tallied ten points.
For Vanguard, Dantwan Grimes led the way with 18 points while Blake Porter tallied 15 points.