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Freedom's Gillette chooses Indian River Community College

     Freedom basketball grad Kyle Gillette has committed to sign with Indian River Community College. He averaged 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals for the Patriots.

Atlantic puts 7-0 record on line in LMP summer hoops playoffs

    Port Orange Atlantic went 7-0 in the regular season and is top seed for the Lake Mary Prep boys basketball summer league playoffs Wednesday and Thursday night in the Griffins gym.
    Lighthouse Christian of DeLand (5-2) is seeded No. 2 and Lake Mary prep (5-2) No. 3 in a field that includes Orangewood Christian (4-3), Deltona Pine Ridge (3-4), Port Orange Spruce Creek (3-4), Faith Christian (1-6) and Trinity Prep (0-7).

    Wednesday's quarterfinal schedule: Atlantic vs. Trinity Prep, 5:30; Lighthouse vs. Faith, 6:30; Lake Mary Prep vs. Spruce Creek, 7:30; Orangewood vs. Pine Ridge, 8:30.

    Semifinals are 5:30 and 6:45 Thursday, leading to an 8 p.m. final.

Tavares softball/Umatilla basketball get coaches

Tavares High School has a new softball coach as of Tuesday. Kendra Nassar, who has worked as an assistant coach in the school's program for the past two years, was announced as the Bulldogs new softball coach. In addition, Umatilla Athletic Director Candy Long said her school has hired a new boys basketball coach, Michael Guastella.

Continue reading "Tavares softball/Umatilla basketball get coaches" »

Former Winter Park star Francis Aihe to sign with Auburn

  Bill Buchalter reports that former Winter Park starter Francis Aihe will sign a Letter-of-Intent to play at Auburn.

  Aihe (6-9/215) averaged 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 2007-08 for Santa Fe Community College, which finished 21-7. He played a big role in Winter Park's run to the state Final Four as a senior.

   He will have two years of eligibility at Auburn and will show up on campus this summer.

McClanahan picks walking-on at Florida over scholarship offers

   Kyle McClanahan, Winter Park’s second-team All-State boys basketball guard, has decided to go to the University of Florida as a preferred walk-on rather than accept scholarship offers from smaller schools.
   “I’m not guaranteed anything. I’ll have to work my way up,” McClanahan said. “But just the experience of being on the team is what I’m looking for most. The coaching staff is great, it’s close to home, which I like, and I know guys.”
   McClanahan said he has talked to Lake Howell grads and current UF freshman Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons about Gators basketball and the school.
    McClanahan said he had an offer from San Francisco, and was also talking to Air Force and some Division II and NAIA schools - including Embry-Riddle University of Daytona Beach -- before deciding to go to UF via his 75-percent Bright Futures academic scholarship. He said UF coaches made him feel wanted last summer when Winter Park won the Gators high school team camp title.
    “They told me if I wanted a spot on the team as a walk-on there would be one.”
     David Bailey, Winter Park’s coach, said the only other senior on the Wildcats 28-2 team, Liam Billings, will be also be a preferred walk-on at Richmond.

Atlantic's C.J. Reed signs with his dad at Bethune-Cookman

     Port Orange Atlantic boys basketball star C.J. Reed signed with Bethune-Cookman Monday – choosing the college team coached by his father, Clifford Reed Jr., over Wofford of South Carolina.
     “I wanted to stay and help my dad’s team get over the top,” Reed said.
     Reed, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 21.3 points and was second-team Class 4A All-State.

Montverde, Leesburg players commit

Continue reading "Montverde, Leesburg players commit" »

Lee Bulls, Team Stat come out on top in basketball tournament

   The Lee Bulls of Jacksonville won the 17-and-under division and Team Stat, sponsored by NBA star Amare Stoudemire, won the 16s division of the Showtime Ballers boys basketball travel team tournament last weekend in Orlando.

Showtime Ballers tourney brings basketball stars back

  A week after the Disney AAU Easter Classic many of Florida's top underclass boys basketball prospects are back in Orlando this weekend for a tournament hosted by the Showtime Ballers. Games will be played all day Saturday at three Orlando recreation centers, the Smith Center at 1723 Bruton Blvd., the College Park gymnasium at 2393 Elizabeth Avenue, and the Englewood Center at 6123 La Costa Drive.

    All of Sunday's action is set for the Smith Center.

   The 17-and-under division with Class of 2009 standouts includes Team Stat, which was the runner-up at the Easter Classic. 

Continue reading "Showtime Ballers tourney brings basketball stars back" »

Canisius dials long-distance to offer scholarship to Brett Chance

   Canisius College of Buffalo, N.Y., became the first major college program to present a solid scholarship offer to All-Central Florida boys basketball guard Brett Chance of Lake Howell. And that move appears to give the Golden Griffins a  good shot at signing the 6-foot-2 Chance - even if upstate New York is a long way from home for a guy who moved from Calififornia to Winter Park at age 3.

   "It got me really excited when they offered," Chance said after playing in last weekend's Senior Showcase All-Star Weekend. "Canisius is a very good school. And I like the style they play. They like to run the floor. They like to get after it on defense. That's all me."

    Chance, the only returning starter from Lake Howell's 2006-07 Class 5A state championship team that featured current college freshman players Nick Calathes (Florida), Chandler Parsons (Florida) and Joey Rodriguez (Virginia Commonwealth), averaged 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in leading the Silver Hawks to a 24-6 season.


Continue reading "Canisius dials long-distance to offer scholarship to Brett Chance" »

UF recruit Allan Chaney says new Gators can make difference

  Not that he was hoping Florida would go from queen of the Big Dance to being jilted by the NCAA men's basketball tournament committee this year. But Allan Chaney, one of five Class of 2008 recruits reeled in by Gators coach Billy Donovan and his staff, said Saturday he is looking forward to being able to make a difference without having to bear the weight of expectations UF's young players carried this season.

  Chaney, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward from New London, Ct., spoke after scoring 15 points and adding five rebounds and two dunks for Team USA in its 120-115 victory over Team Florida in the feature game of the 10th annual Senior Showcase All-Star Weekend at WInter Park High School.

    "It's not the two-time defending national champion Florida Gators any more," Chaney noted. "They need some help to get back to that level. It means less pressure, but it's not that I wished them anything bad. They were young this season. Hopefully, we can learn from the current players so we won't go through the same struggles  next season. We can come in and make some noise and help Florida get back to that level."

Continue reading "UF recruit Allan Chaney says new Gators can make difference" »

A new Marquis Daniels-sponsored team is part of AAU hoops scene

        While the NCAA Tournament is in full swing, another wave of potential college basketball prospects descends on Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the AAU Easter Classic this weekend. Boys travel teams in eight age groups from 10-and-under to the Junior Division – which includes top Class of 2009 high school prospects – will compete in tournaments at Disney, the Champion Sports Complex and several Osceola County high schools today through Sunday.
       The Sentinel’s Central Florida Player of the Year, 6-foot-8 junior Keith Clanton of 1A state champion Orlando Christian Prep, plays for one of the favorites to win the Easter Classic Jr. Division, Team Breakdown. That squad also has junior guard Kenny Boynton, who averaged 34.4 points for Plantation American Heritage, and  sophomore guard Brandon Knight, the state 3A Player of the Year for Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest.
      Among a number of area entries is the new Team Daniels Q6 team sponsored by NBA guard Marquis Daniels. That squad includes most of the junior standouts for Olympia, including Martell Buie, Jamel Marshall, and William Green. The Showtime Ballers retained Olympia guard Dexter Fields along with Dr. Phillips junior Chuck Ford.

Continue reading "A new Marquis Daniels-sponsored team is part of AAU hoops scene" »

Osceola lands three on All-OBC boys basketball team

The Orange Belt Conference, which includes Osceola County, released its all-conference teams for winter sports. I'll be posting the lists throughout the week. Today I'll be focusing on the boys basketball team. Here are the honorees:

MoMo Thomas, G, Osceola
Brenton Williams, G, Osceola
Ray Johnson, F, Osceola
Nick Hendricks, F, Gateway
Kenny Martinez, C, Gateway
Gerald Fitts Roberts, G, Harmony
Nic Gilbert, G, Harmony
Cory Schumacher, G, St. Cloud
Andrew Feliciano, F, Liberty
Josue Velez, G, Liberty
Korval McElroy, G, Poinciana
Josh Delgado, G, Poinciana
Coaches of the Year: Bob Baker of Gateway and Larry Brown of Osceola

Reed, Petitfrere added to North team for FACA all-star game

    Two more area seniors, C.J. Reed of Port Orange Atlantic and Alix Petitfrere of Edgewater, have been added to the North boys roster for Saturday's Florida Athletic Coaches Association state North-South all-star basketball doubleheader at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach. They join Winter Park’s Kyle McClanahan, Winter Springs' Lorne Merthie, and UCF recruit P.J. Gaynor of Jacksonville Mandarin on a 12-player North team that faces the South at 3 p.m.
     Mark Griseck of Olympia is head coach for the North.
     Two area players, Chandler McCabe of Bishop Moore and Renee Washington of Seminole, are on the roster for the girls North team that faces the South at 1 p.m.

Darrell Moody of OCP is finalist for state Coach of the Year

     Darrell Moody, who won a state championship in his first season as a high school head coach, is a finalist for the 2008 Dairy Farmers Florida Boys Basketball Coach of the Year award.
     Moody was voted Class 1A Coach of the Year by a statewide panel of media and coaches.

       Another round of voting will determine the Mr. Basketball award winner and overall Coach of the Year.
         The other Coach of the Year finalists by classification are: 6A – Lawton Williams of state champ Norland (26-6); 5A – Darryl Burrows of state champ Fort Lauderdale Dillard (29-2); 4A – Drew Taylor of state runner-up Lakeland Kathleen (24-5); 3A – David Beckerman of state champ Pine Crest (28-4); 2A – Jimmy Martin of Jacksonville Providence Christian (24-6).

      Travis Jones of Winter Springs was second in the 6A voting. Corey Rolle of Eustis was third in Class 4A.

OCP's Keith Clanton is candidate for Florida Mr. Basketball award

     Keith Clanton, the star forward for state champ Orlando Christian Prep, is one of six finalists for the 2008 Dairy Farmers Mr. Basketball award.
     Clanton, a 6-foot-8 junior, was voted Class 1A Player of the Year by a statewide panel of media and coaches.  He averaged 21.0 points and 13.9 rebounds for OCP, which finished 27-2. He had a triple double – including 12 blocked shots – in a state semifinal win and was the unanimous MVP of the 1A final four.
      Clanton said he got his first Division I scholarship offer from Delaware just before the state tournament and a second from South Florida just after the Warriors won the state title.
      Another round of voting will determine the Mr. Basketball award winner.

       Here are the Players of the Year in the other five classes, with stats and any college commitments according to the ballot:
    Class 6A – Antonio Hester, senior, Miami Norland. Averaged 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, and shot 48-percent from floor for 26-6 state title team).
    Class 5A – Shaquille Johnson, senior, Jacksonville Lee (averaged  24.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 3.5 steals per game and finished career with 2,025 points. Orally committed to Marshall).
     Class 4A – Ray Shipman, senior, Miami Monsignor Pace. Averaged 25.2 points, 3.5 assists, and 6.1 rebounds for 23-9 state title team.
     Class 3A – Brandon Knight, sophomore, Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest. Averaged 22 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 3.1 steals for 28-4 state title team. A third year varsity player who already holds the school career scoring record with 1,675 points.
      Class 2A – Kyle Peterson, senior, Naples Community School. Averaged 18.9 points, 2.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds for 23-7 final four team.

         Lake Mary senior Lorne Merthie was runner-up in the 6A player voting, with Winter Park senior Kyle McClanahan third.

      Senior Brennan Taylor of Daytona Beach Father Lopez was second in the 2A voting.

Winter Park coach has his court and top player vs. Team USA

    Winter Park High School's David Bailey is the coach for Team Florida in its March 22 boys basketball all-star game against Team USA at the 10th annual Senior Showcase. He'll have homecourt advantage and his own top player, senior guard Kyle McClanahan.

    The Florida-USA game is scheduled to tip off at 7:45 p.m., March 22, in the Winter Park gym.

Continue reading "Winter Park coach has his court and top player vs. Team USA" »

Lake-Sumter boys basketball all-star game is Friday at Mount Dora

   The Lake-Sumter boys basketball all-star game will be played Friday night at 7 at Mount Dora High School. A 3-point shootout competition will begin at 6 p.m. with the finals at halftime of the all-star game.

      Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for students.

Here are the announced rosters:

Continue reading "Lake-Sumter boys basketball all-star game is Friday at Mount Dora" »

Coaches name All-Seminole Athletic Conference basketball team

  The All-SAC boys basketball team for the 2007-08 season, as voted by conference coaches:

First team
Brett Chance, Senior, Lake Howell
Lorne Merthie, Senior, Winter Springs
Woody Taylor, Senior, Winter Springs
D.J. Hicks, Senior, Lake Brantley
Tavaryus Gray, Senior, Lake Howell
Chris Watson, Senior, Lyman

Second team
Jayson Guerrier, Junior, Oviedo
Brian Holmes, Sophomore, Winter Springs
Daniel Feliciano, Senior, Lyman
Trevor Hart, Senior, Seminole
Mitch McGrath, Senior, Lake Brantley
Brett Williams, Junior, Hagerty

Coach of the Year: Travis Jones of Winter Springs

Merthie, McClanahan, McCabe, Washington in state all-star game

       Four area seniors are on rosters for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association state North-South all-star basketball doubleheader at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach Saturday, March 15. Bishop Moore’s Chandler McCabe and Seminole’s Renee Washington are on the girls North team that faces the South at 1 p.m. Winter Park’s Kyle McClanahan and Winter Springs' Lorne Merthie are on the boys North team that plays the South at 3 p.m.

    The FACA game returns to Embry-Riddle after being played at Florida Southern College in Lakeland last March.

Mr. Basketball and Coach of Year candidates announced

    The initial ballot for the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Basketball and Florida Coach of the Year awards was released Monday afternoon. A statewide panel of media and coaches will send in their votes for a Player of the Year and Coach of the Year for each classification this week. The winners by classification (1A through 6A) become the finalists for a second round of voting for the overall awards.

     I've got a few days to think about my selections, but this much I know: Class 1A state tournament MVP Keith Clanton  of Orlando Christian Prep has to the frontrunner to win the Player of the Year award in that classification.

   Here are the area names listed on the ballot:

Continue reading "Mr. Basketball and Coach of Year candidates announced" »

Eustis' Dale makes 4A All-State Tournament Team

Eustis' 6-foot-4 senior center was named to the Class 4A All-Tournament team for the state tournament Saturday afternoon following the state championship game.

Continue reading "Eustis' Dale makes 4A All-State Tournament Team" »

OCP's Clanton is voted Class 1A state tournament MVP

  Keith Clanton, Orlando Christian Prep's 6-foot-8 junior forward, was voted Class 1A state tournament Most Valuable Player by media after leading the Warriors (27-2) to the state title Friday.

   Clanton had 23 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 2 assists and 2 steals in the final after posting a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in the semifinal round. Clanton made 11-of-15 shot attempts -- most from point-blank range in Friday's 49-33 win over Boca Raton Grandview Prep (28-2).

   Junior Tyshawn Patterson joined Clanton on the all-tournament team.

    Patterson scored 16 points in the final after posting 27 in the semifinal.

    Adam Jones, a 6-7 sophomore, had 6 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists in the final for balanced OCP. He had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals in OCP's semifinal win over Bradenton Christian.

     Sophomore point guard Caleb Clyburn had 8 points in the championship win.

Orlando Christian Prep wins 1A state title

   Orlando Christian Prep, the wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the Class 1A state boys basketball poll, proved beyond any doubt it was the best Friday.

   The Warriors rolled to a 49-33 win over Boca Raton Grandview Prep and are celebrating now. Point guard Caleb Clyburn dribbled out the time and then flipped the basketball high in the air as the horn sounded. As it came back down and bounced on the floor the Warriors started their celebration at midcourt.

   OCP finished 27-2 for the season, with its only losses to out of state teams Easton, Pa., and Champaign, Ill., Central at the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee in December.

OCP regains composure and control

  Orlando Christian Prep adjusted its press-break in a time out and scored the next 6 points to regain control in its Class 1A state title game against Boca Raton Grandview Prep. The Warriors have gotten two inside scores by 6-8 junior Keith Clanton and a driving layup by point guard Caleb Clyburn to extend their lead back to 45-29 with 3:15 to go in the game.

Grandview closes gap to 10

  Grandview Prep is pressing fullcourt and has cut Orlando Christian Prep's lead to 10 in the 1A state final, prompting OCP Coach Darrell Moody to burn a time out with 5:29 to go.

  Grandview closed the gap to 39-29 when its star junior forward, Altavious Carter, stole an OCP inbounds pass after a made free throw and dunked the ball.

OCP up by 14 with one quarter to go

No. 1 ranked Orlando Christian Prep repelled a mini-run by No. 2 Boca Raton Grandview Prep and the Warriors lead 39-25 after three quarters in Friday's Class 1A boys basketball state championship game at The Lakeland Center.

   The Warriors expanded their lead back to 14 after Grandview missed a jumper. Keith Clanton cleared the rebound, pushed the ball up with an outlet pass to Caleb Clyburn, who found speedy Tyshawn Patterson open on the baseline. Patterson finished with an acrobatic drive in traffic to up the lead to 37-23.

Orlando Christian Prep is up 12 at the half

No. 1 ranked Orlando Christian Prep appears to be on its way to its first boys basketball state championship. The Warriors lead second-ranked Boca Raton Grandview Prep 26-14 at the half of Friday's Class 1A final at The Lakeland Center.

   OCP took control with a 22-3 run and expanded its lead to 26-9 on a 3-point shot by Caleb Clyburn with 2:35 to go in the second quarter.

    Grandview is hurting. The Pride is playing without its top scorer, Isaac Sosa. Also, junior guard Paidrick Matilus tried to play on a sore knee he hurt in the semifinal round but was able to play just over four minutes so far.

   Keith Clanton had 11 points to lead OCP in the first half. Tyshawn Patterson has 7 and Clyburn 6.

OCP leads 26-9 late in the first half

  Orlando Christian Prep is hammering Grandview Prep on the offensive glass and leads the Pride 26-9 with 3:01 remaining in the first half of Friday's Class 1A boys basketball championship game at The Lakeland Center.

  OCP (26-2) is on a 19-3 run. The Warriors went up 16-9 on a 3-point shot by Tyshawn Patterson and then got two follow shot baskets by Keith Clanton after rebounds by Kiel Lewis. Orlando Parker came off the bench and got in on the act with another offensive rebound that led to a bucket by Patterson.

   Caleb Clyburn, OCP's sophomore point guard, just made a 3-point shot from the right wing and the Warriors lead by 17 with 2:35 to go in the half. Grandview has 3 points since the 4:18 mark of the first quarter.

OCP leads 11-6 after one quarter

  Orlando Christian Prep (26-2) is patiently working the ball in a duel of zone defenses and leads Boca Raton Grandview Prep 11-6 after one quarter.

   Grandview is getting only shot and went the last 3:42 of the opening period without a score.

Orlando Christian Prep underway in 1A state final

  Orlando Christian Prep (26-2) is underway in its Class 1A state championship game against Boca Raton Grandview Prep (28-1). The Warriors trail 6-4 early with time out on the floor for a TV break.

  As always, staying out of foul trouble is key for OCP, which dresses only seven players. Keith Clanton, the Warriors 6-8 junior, picked up his first foul 3:42 into the game.

Boyd Anderson in control versus Evans

  No. 1 ranked Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson (29-1) leads Evans by 27 and is starting to empty its bench with five minutes to go in the Class 6A semifinal. The Lakeland Cen ter is also beginning to empty with some fans deciding to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

   The Cobras went ahead 66-39 at the 5:21 mark.

Evans rallies, Cobras strike back

  Evans whittled Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson's third quarter lead to 37-27 on 5 quick points by senior guard Kedric Taylor. But the No. 1 ranked Cobras (29-1) have responded swiftly and are threatening again to blow the 6A boys basketball semifinal open.

  Boyd Anderson leads 47-27 with four minutes to go.

Evans closes the gap at halftime

  After falling behind top-ranked Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson 30-10 midway through the second quarter, Evans has made enough of a run to get Trojans fans who traveled from Orlando back into the game. Evans trails 35-22 at the half.

   Evans cut the Cobras advantage down to 12 at one point. Senior guard Kedric Taylor made two 3-pointers and two free throws in the final three minutes, 28 seconds of the first half and Javaris Jacob added an inside score as the Trojans got to within 32-20.

Continue reading "Evans closes the gap at halftime" »

Boyd Anderson leads Evans 32-13 in 6A semifinal

  No. 1 ranked Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson (29-1) is looking like the top team in Class 6A in its semifinal game against Evans (24-7). The Cobras are on a 26-7 run and lead 32-13 with 2:35 remaining in the first half of Thursday's final game at The Lakeland Center.

   Evans, a surprise semifinalist which was the fifth seed in District 5, jumped out to a 6-4 lead on two early baskets by Kedric Taylor and a go-ahead up-and-under layin by Javaris Jacob.

  Since that quick start the Trojans have found it tough to find any openings in Boyd Anderson's active zone defense.

Fourth quarter: Kathleen 72, Eustis 69, Final

Kevin Foster, the 6-7 player for Kathleen that Eustis had no one as tall as, scored on an offensive rebound with 30 seconds remaining to give the Red Devils a 71-69 lead. Foster's basket came after T.J. Lawrence missed two free throws for Kathleen.

Continue reading "Fourth quarter: Kathleen 72, Eustis 69, Final" »

Winter Springs falls by 1 point in 6A semifinal

  Sorry about the suspense folks. ... as far as I knew I had this blog posted about two hours ago. Can't tell you what the glitch was but here -- better late than never -- is the final score of the Winter Springs boys basketball state semifinal.

   The Bears lost 61-60 to Miami Norland after a spirited comeback fell just short. Norland nearly collapsed with 10-of-25 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter but made one that made the difference with 6.3 seconds remaining. That foul shot rendered a 3-point shot by Lorne Merthie for Winter Springs just before the horn sounded as too-little, too-late.

    Winter Springs trailed by 18 at one point but clawed back into the game with a 2-2-1 matchup zone bothering the Vikings.

    Merthie finished with 18 points for the Bears. Woody Taylor and Brian Holmes both scored 17.


Third Quarter: Kathleen 55, Eustis 52

Eustis took its first lead since leading 3-2 29 seconds into the game when Ray Likely hit one of two free throws with 5:21 remaining.

Continue reading "Third Quarter: Kathleen 55, Eustis 52" »

First half update: Kathleen 35, Eustis 33

Some notes from the first half of the Class 4A state semifinal game thurday night at The Lakeland Center:

Continue reading "First half update: Kathleen 35, Eustis 33" »

Bears pull to within 60-56 on 3-pointer by Holmes

  Miami Norland left the back door open by missing seven free throws in the fourth quarter and Winter Springs has closed the gap to 60-56 on a 3-point shot by sophomore Brian Holmes with 45.7 seconds to go.

  It's Norland's ball with play resuming after a Winter Springs time outl.

Winter Springs trails 58-53 with 1:34 to go

   Winter Springs trails Miami Norland with 58-53 with 1:34 remaining in the first Class 6A semifinal game in Lakeland.

   The Bears pulled to within 57-51 on a nice catch on the run and finish in traffic by sophomore Brian Holmes with 2:58 to play. Winter Springs scored on a follow-shot by Ryan Gidus with 1:34 on the clock and immediately called a time out. The teams are coming back onto the floor now.

  The winner advances to the final against the winner of tonight's final game, which pits Evans (24-7) against No. 1 ranked Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson (29-1).

Winter Springs trails 57-49 with time running out

  Woody Taylor has just made two free throws but Winter Springs still trails Miami Norland 57-49 with 3:59 to go in its Class 6A boys basketball state semifinal in Lakeland.

  There is a media time out on the floor.

Winter Springs trails by 11 with a quarter to go

   Miami Norland weathered the storm and has extended its lead over Winter Springs back out to 47-36 at the close of the third quarter of the Class 6A boys basketball semifinal game in Lakeland.

   Norland led 26-8 in the first quarter. Winter Springs surged back into the game with a 17-2 run and got to within 28-25. But Norland was able to adjust to the Bears pressure and get its offense back on track in the final four minutes of the third quarter.

Bears are back in the ballgame

  Winter Springs opened the second half on a 9-2 run and is back in the game against Miami Norland in its 6A boys basketball semifinal. The Bears trail 28-25 after Ryan Gidus scored on a tip-in with 5:57 to play in the third quarter.

   Gidus had a big offensive rebound on the first possession of the half. He kicked the ball out to Woody Taylor who knocked down a 3-point shot.

   Winter Springs has been able to speed up the game with its stepped-up defensive pressure.

Winter Springs trails Norland 26-16 at halftime

  After falling behind by 18, Winter Springs finished the second quarter on a 10-0 run and is back in the game in its Class 6A boys basketball semifinal at The Lakeland Center.

   The Bears forced five consecutive Miami Norland turnovers before halftime and cut the Vikings lead to 26-16 when a steal set up a layup by sophomore guard Brian Holmes with 1.7 seconds on the clock.

   Body language as both teams left the court for their locker rooms said volumes about how the momentum has switched.

   Winter Springs players bounced off the floor smiling, seemingly energized after a sluggish start. Most of Norland's players left with their heads hanging after allowing the Bears to rally in what at one point was looking like a rout.

Continue reading "Winter Springs trails Norland 26-16 at halftime" »

Winter Springs slices deficit to 12

  Winter Springs has used defensive pressure to climb back within striking distance in its state semifinal against Miami Norland.

   The Bears trailed 26-8 with 2:16 to go in the second quarter but have cut the gap after forcing four consecutive turnovers -- including an offensive foul against the Vikings.

   Winter Springs got two free throws from Lorne Merthie, 1-of-2 from both Daniel Kuhl and Brian Holmes and a basket by Woody Taylor to close the gap to 26-14 with time running out in the half.

Winter Springs trails 26-10 in state semifinal in Lakeland

  Miami Norland has scored 10 points off offensive rebounds in the second quarter and leads 26-10 over Winter Springs in the second quarter of their Class 6A boys basketball semifinal game at The Lakeland Center.

   Lorne Merthie, the Bears senior standout guard, reentered with two fouls in the second quarter and the Bears are attempting to trap and pressure.

Norland leads Winter Springs 14-5 after one quarter

   Winter Springs made only one basket, on a drive by Brian Holmes, and trails 14-5 against Miami Norland after one quarter of its Class 6A boys basketball semifinal game.

  Coach Travis Jones of Winter Springs said just prior to the game a key for his team was getting off to a good start and getting its offense running and in rhythm. That has yet to happen.

Winter Springs falls behind early vs. Miami Norland

    Winter Springs is finding it difficult to get good shots against Miami Norland's aggressive defense and trails the Vikings 9-3 early in the Class 6A semifinal game at The Lakeland Center.

   Lorne Merthie, Winter Springs' leading scorer, picked up his second foul three minutes, 50 seconds into the game and was replaced by sophomore Luis Jacobo.

Winter Springs takes the floor for its 6A championship game

  Winter Springs (27-3) and Miami Norland (24-6) are being introduced and it's almost time for tip-off of their Class 6A boys basketball semifinal.

   The Bears starters are 6-foot-3 sophomore Daniel Kuhl, 6-2 senior Lorne Merthie, 6-2 sophomore  Brian Holmes, 6-1 senior Woody Taylor, and 6-6 senior Ryan Gidus.

Orlando Christian Prep prevails 70-59

  Orlando Christian Prep (26-2) will play in its first boys basketball state championship game Friday after holding on for a hardfought 70-59 win over Bradenton Christian (26-5) Wednesday at The Lakeland Center.

    The top-ranked Warriors will play second-ranked Boca Raton Grandview Prep (28-1) at noon Friday in the Class 1A final.

    OCP led by 17 in the second quarter but had to overcame foul trouble and a comeback by Bradenton Christian.

     Keith Clanton, OCP's 6-foot-8 junior center, had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 blocked shots but got plenty of help.

     Junior guard Tyshawn Patterson scored a game-high 27 points for the Warriors and added six steals and five assists.

    Adam Jones, a 6-7 sophomore, had 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocked shots..


OCP in position to put it away

   Adam Jones and Keith Clanton grabbed offensive rebounds off missed free throws by teammates in a key sequence and Orlando Christian Prep is a minute away from surviving in its Class 1A boys basketball semifinal. The Warriors lead Bradenton Christian 68-59 with time stopped with 20.6 seconds to go.

BCS pulls to within 7

  Bradenton Christian has scored two follow-shot baskets to pull to within 64-57 in its game against Orlando Christian Prep. There is 1:31 to go.

Warriors still clinging to 11-point lead with time running out

  Top-ranked Orlando Christian Prep (25-2) leads 59-48 with 3:27 to go in its Class 1A boys basketball semifinal against Bradenton Christian (26-4).

     Keith Clanton, OCP's 6-foot-8 junior, recorded what I have as his 11th blocked shot of the game on a 3-point try by the Panthers with 4:18 remaining.

Up 11, OCP brings Clanton back to the game

   With Orlando Christian Prep's star forward, Keith Clanton, strapped to the bench with four fouls Bradenton Christian has closed the gap to 54-43 in the Class 1A boys basketball semifinal at The Lakeland Center.

   BCS scored 7 of the first 8 points of the fourth quarter and that was all Darrell Moody needed to see. He immediately waved Clanton back into the game with 6:07 to go.

Clanton goes out with four fouls

   Orlando Christian Prep leads 53-36 but its star player, Keith Clanton, is out with four fouls as the third quarter of a Class 1A state semifinal game ends.

    On the same Bradenton Christian possession in which Clanton picked up his ninth and tenth blocked shots of the game the 6-foot-8 junior also picked up his third foul. Less than a minute later he picked up foul number four on a scramble for a rebound with 59.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

    OCP Coach Darrell Moody immediately pulled Clanton out and he is on the bench as the fourth quarter opens.

OCP opens up its lead

    Top-ranked Orlando Christian Prep (25-2) opened the second half on a 13-2 run and leads Bradenton Christian 45-28 with three minutes to go in the third quarter of its Class 1A semifinal.

    Just as it did to start the game, OCP got its running game going off missed shots by BCS. Kiel Lewis finished a fastbreak with a layup in traffic to up the OCP advantage to 41-26. Seconds later Tyshawn Patterson stole a dribble away from a BCS ballhandler and drove for a layup to make it 43-26.

    Keith Clanton, OCP's 6-foot-8 junior forward, has blocked eight shots.

OCP leads 30-24 at the half

   No. 1 ranked Orlando Christian Prep (25-2) is definitely in a battle but leads 30-24 over Bradenton Christian (26-4) in its Class 1A boys basketball semifinal game at The Lakeland Center.

   OCP dominated the early going and surged ahead 16-3 and 20-7 in the first quarter. But the Panthers clawed back into the game with a 15-9 run and pulled to within 5 points on a 3-point shot by guard Jordan Negrin with 46 seconds to go before halftime.

   Foul trouble, always a potential Achilles heel for an OCP team that dresses only seven players, is a factor. Adam Jones, OCP's 6-foot-7 sophomore, picked up his third foul in the second quarter and sat the final 2:05 of the half. Keith Clanton, a 6-8 junior who leads the Warriors in scoring and rebounding, has two fouls.

    CJones had 9 points to lead OCP in the first half. Junior Tyshawn Patterson added 8 and added 5 assists and 3 steals. Clanton has 7 points, 5 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

   Jamison Tipping of BCS leads all scorers with 12 points but also has two fouls.

Bradenton Christian puts the pressure on OCP

  It's not going to be as it first looked for No. 1 ranked Orlando Christian Prep in its Class 1A boys basketball semifinal. Bradenton Christian has just pulled to within eight at 29-21, and OCP's 6-foot-7 sophomore, Adam Jones, is on the bench with three fouls with 2:05 to go in the first half.

   Keith Clanton, OCP's 6-8 junior, has two fouls.

   After falling behind 16-3 in the first quarter, BCS clawed its way back into the game with a 15-9 run.

OCP starts fast in state semifinal

  Things couldn't have started much better for Orlando Christian Prep in its first-ever boys basketball state tournament game.

   The Warriors (26-2) scored on five of their first six possessions to jump out to a 10-0 lead over Bradenton Christian (26-5) in a Class 1A. Junior Tyshawn Patterson scored OCP's opening basket on a follow-shot.

    With two and a half minutes to go in the first quarter OCP leads 16-3 and Patterson already has 8 points.


OCP ready to warm for the task in state semifinal

   Top-ranked Orlando Christian Prep has taken the floor for its Class 1A boys basketball state semifinal at The Lakeland Center. Sophomore point guard Kaleb Clyburn led the Warriors out onto the floor -- all seven of them -- for pre-game warmups.

   The OCP game against Bradenton Christian (26-4) was set for 11:30 a.m. on the FHSAA program but will probably not tip off until about 11:50 or so.

   Boca Raton Grandview Prep (28-1) won the 10 a.m. game 67-59 over Tallahassee FAMU (20-11). Grandview will play the winner of the OCP-Bradenton Christian in Saturday's final at noon.

   Grandview bolted out to an early 10-0 lead and was in control all the way against FAMU. Altavious Carter, a 6-foot-6 junior, posted a triple-double with 25 points, 23 rebounds and 11 blocked shots for the Pride. Colin Gates, a 6-3 sophomore, added 24 points for Grandview.


Howard resigns as Spruce Creek boys basketball coach

     David Howard stepped down Tuesday as head boys basketball coach at Port Orange Spruce Creek, where he played high school ball. Howard compiled a 162-140 record in 11 seasons with the Hawks including district runner-up finishes in 2003-04 and 2006-07.

Hudson steps down as Bishop Moore basketball coach

    Irwin Hudson has resigned as Bishop Moore’s boys basketball coach after his third season at the school. The Hornets dipped to 9-18 this season after going 22-9 and 20-10 with district runner-up finishes the previous two seasons. Hornets athletic director Mike Malatesta said he will be reviewing resumes for the vacancy after the team banquet (Feb. 24) brings closure to the season.

New sites for Pine Castle, Lighthouse boys basketball games

    Pine Castle Christian (21-6) will not be allowed to play Tuesday night's Class 2A boys basketball region semifinal vs. district rival Florida Air Academy (15-8) at its beloved "Eagles Nest" gymnasium.
    The Florida High School Athletic Association, citing its minimum seating requirements, granted FAA's request that the game be moved to a larger facility. PCC will now host at Lake Highland Prep.

    Pine Castle has lost only two home games in three years, both to Montverde Academy once in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. The Eagles are 11-0 at home this season.

    "It's what we have to do,"  Mark Rickman, Pine Castle's coach and athletic director, said of the move. "The good news is that everybody who wants to see the game will be able to get in."
    Rickman said Lake Highland's gym seats about 1,200 to 1,500, compared to 500 at PCC.
    In another move, DeLand Lighthouse Christian (21-6) has switched its 1A region semifinal home game vs. district rival Deltona Trinity Christian (17-10) from Deltona High to Southwest Middle School in order to keep the game in DeLand.
     TCA played all but one of its regular season home games at Southwest.

Silver Hawks shooting for sixth consecutive state tourney trip
Reigning Class 5A boys basketball champion Lake Howell (23-5) is seeking its sixth consecutive final four berth and is two wins away. The Silver Hawks host Winter Haven (16-12) in a Class 5A region semifinal Tuesday night at 7. Lake Howell. which returned only one starter from its title team - senior guard Brett Chance - has not lost a district or regional playoff game since the 2001-02 season. The Hawks  only postseason losses since were in state semifinal games in Lakeland in 2003, 2005 and 2006, ande in a 2004 state title game.

  Also Tuesday, Eustis (22-4) hosts Dade City Pasco (21-7) in 4A, Wildwood (23-4) hosts Jones (21-5) in 3A, and Pine Castle Christian (21-6) hosts Florida Air Academy (15-8) in 2A.

   There are two all-area 1A region quarterfinals, with the winners set to meet each other. Orlando Christian Prep (23-2), the No. 1 ranked team in the state poll, hosts Central Florida Christian, which is 19-10 on the floor but 3-26 officially due to forfeitures. DeLand Lighthouse Christian (21-6) is home team vs. Deltona Trinity Christian (17-10) in a game that will be played at Deltona High School.

    Region finals are set for Saturday night, Feb. 23, at 7.

Winter Park has to take show on the road to Winter Springs

  Winter Park (28-1) has a three-year 7-0 streak going in boys basketball region play. But for the first time in that string, the Wildcats must take their show on the road Tuesday night.

   The Wildcats, the top-ranked team in the Sentinel Super 6, will play at No. 2 Winter Springs (25-3) in a Class 6A region semifinal game that tips off at 7 p.m.

    The two teams met at Winter Park early this season, with the host Wildcats prevailing by the scantest of margins, 75-74, in the championship game of the Rotary Tip-Off Classic. Last season Winter Park scored a 54-51 homecourt win over the Bears in a region quarterfinal.


Four rematches set Tuesday in boys basketball region games

    There will be four rematches from district finals played last week when the next round of boys basketball region playoffs tips off Tuesday night at 7.

    Edgewater (19-10) will host Metro Conference and district rival Evans (20-7) in 6A; Pine Castle Christian (21-6) will host Florida Air Academy (15-8) in the fourth time around for two programs that won state titles last season; No. 1 1A Orlando Christian Prep (23-2) will host Central Florida Christian (3-26 with 16 losses by forfeit); and Class 1A, District 5 champ DeLand Lighthouse Christian (21-6) will be the home team for a rematch against rival Deltona Trinity Christian (17-10).

     Lighthouse won't really have any homecourt advantage. The Crusaders do not have their own gymnasium. Their game vs. Trinity Tuesday night will be played at Deltona High, which is not much more than right around the corner from TCA.


OCP's Keith Clanton is unanimous MVP in 1A, District 7

    Orlando Christian Prep junior Keith Clanton was a unanimous MVP pick and 12 other players were selected to the Class 1A, District 7 all-league team by coaches. OCP had four players with Tyshawn Patterson, Kaleb Clyburn and Adam Jones joining Clanton.
     Others picked: Justin Tahner and Justin Reyes of Circle Christian, Mike Benitez and C.J. Baxter of Faith Christian, Eric McRae of Orlando Lutheran, Claston Esterine of Agape Christian, Zach McKenzie of Central Florida Christian, Kenny Strong of Foundation Academy and Greg Carter of West Oaks Academy.
       Foundation received the District Sportsmanship Award.

Lake players receive McDonald's nominations

Seven high school players from Lake County schools – three girls and four boys -- have been nominated to play in the annual McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball games in Milwaukee’s Bradley Center on March 26.

Six of the players are from two schools.


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South Lake-Montverde post mortem

South Lake Coach Marcel Thomas was obviously pleased with the start his Eagles got off to. South Lake jumped out to an early lead against Montverde Thursday night in an opening round game of the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament. South Lake opened the game with an 11-5 run, but couldn't hang on against Montverde and eventually lost 90-53.

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At the buzzer

Montverde Acadmy's boys basketball team made a knack of hitting 3-point baskets at the buzzer Thursday night in the opening round 90-53 victory over Groveland South Lake.

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South Lake off to fast start

South Lake jumped out to a quick lead in its opening round game against Montverde in its opening round game of the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament Thursday night.

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Northside has big second half

Lafayette, La., Northside continued its hot shooting from the outside in the second half of its opening round game in the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournamnt on Thursday, scoring 59 points in the final two quarters to escape Miami Monsignor Pace 99-86.

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Northside scoring from the outside

Lafayette, La., Northside, managed to hang in the first half in its opening round game in the fifth annual Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament by hitting  on some nig shots from the outside.

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Country Day takes first round victory

Jacksonville Arlington Country Day may have been a late edition into the fifth annual Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament, but the Apaches showed in the first round that they belong in the competitive field, taking a 63-41 victory Thursday afternoon over Davie Westlake Prep.

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Judge gets four, makes two

it was late in the second quarter of Thursday's first round game in the fifth annual Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament and Jacksonvile Arlington Country Day's game with Davie Westlake Prep still was close when Wally Judge, Country Day's 6-9 center who is committed to Kansas State, stepped to the line to shoot two.

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Dr. Phillips wins opening round at Montverde

A big second quarter for Dr. Phillips led the Panthers to a 61-50 victory over Milwaukee Rufus King High School Thursday afternoon in the opening game of the fifth annual Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament.

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Lorne Merthie, Brett Chance are top FACA picks

   Senior guards Lorne Merthie and Brett Chance earned top honors in voting by coaches from Seminole and Volusia Counties at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association's District 9 meeting this week.

   Merthie was voted 6A Player of the Year out of a district that includes his talented teammates along with top players from Lake Brantley, Oviedo, DeLand, Seminole and DeLand. Chance was the 5A MVP.

    Coach of the Year honors went to Travis Jones of Winter Springs for 6A, Reggie Kohn of Lake Howell for 5A and Eddie Miller of Daytona Beach Father Lopez for 2A.

Winter Park's McClanahan, Bailey get FACA 6A votes

   Winter Park senior guard Kyle McClanahan was voted Class 6A Player of the Year for Orange and Seminole Counties by in a Florida Athletic Coaches Association vote Sunday. Coaches from 15 of the 41 schools in the FACA district voted.

  The MVPs selected in other classifications are: 1A - Justin Tahner, Circle Christian; 2A - Eddie Piccinini, Pine Castle Christian; 3A - Adrian Davilla, Trinity Prep; 4A - Terral Merritt, Bishop Moore. There are no 5A schools in the FACA district.
Coaches of the Year by classification are: 1A - Doug Beattie, Circle; 2A - Mark Rickman, Pine Castle; 3A - Jerry Howard, Jones; 4A - Irwin Hudson, Bishop Moore; 6A - David Bailey, Winter Park.
  This is the all-district team (players nominated), as reported by the coaches:
Justin Tahner, Circle Christian School; Zach McKenzie, Central Florida Christian Academy; Eddie Piccinini, Pine Castle Christian Academy; Adrian Davilla, Trinity Prep; John Thompson, Jones; Terral Merritt, Bishop Moore; Alex Petitfrere, Edgewater; Justyn Watkins, Dr. Phillips; Martell Buie, Olympia; Dexter Fields, Olympia; Kyle McClanahan, Winter Park; Jeff Watts, Ocoee; Derek Brown, University; Gerard "Momo" Thomas, Kissimmee Osceola.

ACD replaces Mobile LeFlore in Montverde hoops tournament

     Jacksonville Arlington Country Day, Florida’s three-time defending Class 2A boys basketball champ, has replaced Alabama powerhouse Mobile LeFlore (29-2) in this week’s 8-team Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament, which tips off Thursday.
      Kasey Kesserling, Montverde’s headmaster and the tournament director, said the Alabama High School Athletic Association notified LeFlore that it would be exceeding the maximum number of tournaments permitted.
      ACD (14-6) has played a national-level schedule with losses to LeFlore, Montrose Christian of Maryland, and Los Angeles Westchester at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii; and a a defeat against Brooklyn Boys & Girls at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
       The Apaches also dropped a district game for only the second time in 12 years to Jacksonville Providence Christian.
        ACD is led by highly-touted sophomore James Bell, a 6-foot-5 sophomore and Wally Judge (6-9/Jr.), a transfer from Bladensburg, Md., who gained eligibility to play on Jan. 17. Judge has orally committed to Kansas State.
       ACD’s first round game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday will be against Davie Westlake Prep, a team it beat 60-49 last Saturday.
        Other first round games have Dr. Phillips vs. Milwaukee Rufus King at 3; Miami Monsignor Pace vs. Lafayette, La., Northside at 6; and Montverde vs. Clermont South Lake at 7:30.

Montverde Academy hoops invitational is next week

    Mobile, Ala., Leflore (24-2), which has been ranked in most boys basketball national polls all season, is a headliner in next week’s Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament. First round matchups Thursday have state-ranked Dr. Phillips vs. perennial Milwaukee power Rufus King at 3 p.m.; LeFlore vs. Davie Westlake at 4:30; defending 4A state champ Miami Monsignor Pace vs. Louisiana’s reigning 4A champ, Lafayette Northside, at 6; and host and defending champ Montverde vs. Groveland South Lake at 7:30.
       The semifinals are Friday, Feb. 1, and the final Saturday, Feb. 2.

Dunham makes a difference

Akeem Dunham (6-3/Sr.), one of the area’s top two-sport standouts, returned to Eustis’ basketball lineup Thursday and had eight points and six steals in a 50-36 Class 4A, District 7 victory for the league-leading Panthers (13-5, 6-0) over Bishop Moore (5-14, 3-3).

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Winter Park boys move into national poll

Winter Park’s 20-0 boys basketball start has gained national attention. The Wildcats are ranked No. 25 nationally this week by Rise Magazine (RiseMag.com). "I am surprised, but at the same time happy for my players,'' David Bailey , Winter Park’s coach, said Wednesday. "It’s a nice honor."

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Class 6A, District 5 race is stacked up behind Olympia

   Olympia (16-2) is the clear frontrunner with a 5-0 league record, but everything behind the Titans is very much up in the air in the elbow-to-elbow race for seed position in Class 6A, District 5 basketball. The tournament will be played Feb. 4-9 at Edgewater.
     Olympia has key back-to-back district games at home vs. Apopka Friday and at streaking Edgewater Saturday night.

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Winter sports teams have to be a quick study for the playoffs

  Within hours of students returning to schools this week athletic directors were already circulating pairings for next week's girls soccer district tournaments. Ready or not that's how close we are to the winter sports playoffs.


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Dr. Phillips v. Olympia: Metro Showdown (halftime)

So far, Dr. Phillips has played arguably a more patient, measured offense in the second quarter and led 28-25 for a short while. But Olympia's got such a loaded offense that players can go-off on a scoring tangent in any given minute.

Sherwood Brown, Dexter Fields and Martell Buie converted on four consecutive possessions to give the Titans a 36-30 edge and held their lead until half. Olympia leads 40-37.

Dr. Phillips v. Olympia: Metro boys basketball showdown

If the varsity game is anything like the junior varsity matchup between the cross-town rivals Dr. Phillips and Olympia, then we're in for a very long night.

Right now, Olympia JV just took the lead in the fourth quarter and we've still got over a minute left in the fourth quarter. The Varsity teams were scheduled to compete at 7:30 p.m., but looks like things won't get rolling until around 8:15.

Also of note, the gym's capacity is 1500 and which I believe has been surpasses as evidenced by the standing room only seating.

Liberty off to best start ever

Liberty Christian in Tavares may be a small private school competing in the Florida Christian Conference, but its boys and girls basketball programs are both off to big starts -- the biggest in school history.

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Lots of candidates can a make move into boys basketball Super 6

   Cobbling together a boys basketball Sentinel Super 6 and second six these days is a measurement of how deep Central Florida is in this sport. For that reason, I'm going to use this blog to show some love for the teams I considered for inclusion that did not make the cut this week.
   Here is the Sentinel Super 6 published Tuesday in print (with rankings and records through Saturday games):

1. MONTVERDE ACADEMY (5-0) –Eagles play Olympia Saturday at 7:30 at “Hoops with Heart” at Oviedo.
2. WINTER PARK (5-0) – Host Wildcats won loaded Rotary Tip-Off for first time since 1976.
3. OLYMPIA (3-0) – Titans play at Evans (3-1) tonight, at Ocoee (2-1) Friday.
4. WINTER SPRINGS (2-2) – Bears losses are tight games at Olympia and at Winter Park.
5. LAKE HOWELL (2-1) – Silver Hawks took third at Tip-Off, losing 60-52 to Winter Springs.
6.  DR. PHILLIPS (2-0) – Panthers host Edgewater Friday night.
    Second six – 7. Eustis (2-0); 8. Edgewater (2-1); 9. Orlando Christian Prep (4-0); 10. Lake Brantley (1-2); 11. Oak Ridge (3-2); 12. Oviedo (3-0).
     And here is the Watch list (alphabetical order): Apopka (3-2), Port Orange Atlantic (3-1), Boone (3-1), Cypress Creek (3-1), Evans (3-1), Gateway (3-0), Harmony (3-1), Jones (1-0), Kissimmee Osceola (2-1), Lyman (4-0), Ocoee (2-1), Pine Castle Christian (0-2), West Oaks Academy (2-0).

Lake Brantley rallies past Oak Ridge to reach Rotary Tip-Off semifinal

       Lake Brantley (1-0) opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 flurry and scored a 56-53 come-from-behind victory over Oak Ridge (2-1) in the Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament Thursday night.

     The Patriots will play host Winter Park (3-0) in Friday night's second semifinal game at 8:30.

     The first semi, set for 7, pits Seminole Athletic Conference rivals Lake Howell (1-0) and Winter Springs (1-1) against each other. Lake Howell is the two-time defending tournament champion.

    Oak Ridge led 44-39 over Lake Brantley heading into the fourth quarter -- the Pioneers biggest margin of the game. But the Patriots opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run and were able to hold on.

Oak Ridge leads by 5 over Lake Brantley with a quarter to go

   Oak Ridge senior star Eddie D'Haiti elevated and drained a jumper in the lane with 5 seconds to go in the third period and the Pioneers (2-0) lead 44-39 over Lake Brantley (0-0) heading into the final eight minutes at the Rotary Tip-Off Classic.

   Brantley was up 35-33 midway through the third period following a 3-point shot by Jared Reiner. But Oak Ridge got key baskets from Alvin Lamb and Dijon Davis and a 3-pointer from sharpshooter Jeremy Williams late in the quarter.

Oak Ridge and Lake Brantley are tied at the half

  It's 25-25 at the half between Oak Ridge (2-0) and Lake Brantley (0-0) at the Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament.

  The winner will face host Winter Park (3-0) Friday night in a semifinal game set for 8:30.

   Lake Howell (1-0) meets Winter Springs (1-1) in the 7 p.m. semifinal Friday.

   The Brantley-Oak Ridge game is a contrast of styles. Brantley is banging inside with 6-foot, 8-inch senior center Greg Larson and 6-5 D.J. Hicks. Oak Ridge is utilizing the perimeter skills and slashing ability of 6-7 senior Eddie D'Haiti.

Lake Brantley leads 14-12 over Oak Ridge

   It looks like Thursday's second quarterfinal game at the Rotary Tip-Off Classic will be a lot closer than the earlier first round game won by host Winter Park (3-0) in a rout.

   Lake Brantley (0-0) leads 14-12 over Oak Ridge (2-0) after one quarter.

Host Winter Park wins by 40 over Lake Highland Prep

   The first big blowout of the Rotary Tip-Off Classic was won by host Winter Park.

    The undefeated Wildcats (3-0), ranked No. 2 in the Sentinel Super 6, got 21 points and five rebounds from senior guard Kyle McClanahan and won 78-38 over outgunned Lake Highland Prep (0-2).

    Kyle Schneider added 11 points and six assists for Winter Park, and Spencer Copeland collected 11 rebounds.

    Cameron Tallon led LHP with 17 points and Jason Root added 12.

    Oak Ridge (2-0) and Lake Brantley (0-0) are warming up now for the last of four quarterfinal games. The semifinals are set for Friday night.

Winter Park rolling at Rotary Tip-Off Classic

    Winter Park (2-0), host for this week's Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament, is in control with a 69-34 fourth quarter lead over Lake Highland Prep (0-1) in semifinal play Thursday night.

   The Wildcats went up 14-2 on a 3-point shot from the corner by ninth grader Austin Rivers, built that lead to 20-2 on another trey by Kyle McClanahan and increased the advantage to 32-4 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Matt Mitchell.

    It was 45-19 at the half. McClanahan, a senior guard, had 12 points in the first half. Miller had 10.

Edgewater bounces back with win over PCC at Tip-Off

   Chase Crane scored 15 fourth quarter points -- 12 on 3-point shots -- and Edgewater pulled away for a 57-43 win over Pine Castle Christian (0-2) in a consolation bracket game at the Rotary Tip-Off Classic at WInter Park High School Thursday.

    Crane finished with 18 points. Alix Petitfrere added 17 for the Eagles.


Host Winter Park is up big at Rotary Tip-Off Classic

   Winter Park (2-0), host for this week's Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament, has dominated from the start against outgunned Lake Highland Prep (0-1) in semifinal play Thursday night.

   The Wildcats went up 14-2 on a 3-point shot from the corner by ninth grader Austin Rivers, built that lead to 20-2 on another trey by Kyle McClanahan and increased the advantage to 32-4 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Matt Mitchell.

    It is 45-19 at the half.

    The final semifinal coming up pits Oak Ridge (2-0) against Lake Brantley (0-0).

Winter Springs tops Pine Castle Christian at Tip-Off

    Winter Springs withstood a late comeback attempt by Pine Castle Christian and won Wednesday's second semifinal game 62-53 in the Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament at Winter Park.

    The Bears (1-1) victory sets up a Seminole County semifinal against Lake Howell (1-0) Friday night at 7.

    PCC (0-1) will come back Thursday to face Edgewater (0-1) at 5:15 in a consolation bracket game.

Winter Springs answers Pine Castle charge

   Pine Castle Christian (0-0) rallied to take the lead early in the third quarter of Wednesday's second game of the Rotary Tip-Off Classic at Winter Park. But Winter Springs (0-1) answered that charge with a big run of its own and leads 44-32 after three quarters.

    Lorne Merthie spurred the Bears after PCC went ahead 32-29 three minutes into the second half. Merthie took a pass from Brian Holmes and nailed an open 3-point shot to put the Bears up by 10. After an Eagles miss at the other end Merthie finished a Winter Springs fastbreak to up the advantage to 44-32.

Winter Springs leads Pine Castle in second game

   Class 6A Winter Springs (0-1) is up 27-23 at the half against 2A Pine Castle Christian (0-0) in the second game of the Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament at Winter Park Wednesday night.

    The Bears, who lost a close opener to highly-regarded Olympia earlier this week, are getting good play from guards Brian Holmes, Woody Taylor and Lorne Merthie and sophomore Daniel Kuhl against a PCC team renowned for its ability to defend.

     The winner of this game advances to Friday's 7 p.m. final against Lake Howell (1-0).

Lake Howell first to advance at Tip-Off Classic

   Lake Howell (1-0), the two-time Rotary Tip-Off Classic defending champion, opened the 2007 tournament with a 59-45 over Edgewater (0-1) Wednesday night at Winter Park High School.

    The Silver Hawks returned only one starter, senior guard Brett Chance, from a team that cruised to the Tip-Off title last season en route to a 5A state championship.

    Chance had 20 points to lead Lake Howell Wednesday. Tavaryus Gray, a 6-foot, 3-inch senior and new starter for the Hawks, added 16 points and made three 3-point shots.

    Alix Petitfrere scored 12 for Edgewater.

    Lake Howell advances to Friday 7 p.m. semifinal where it will play the winner of tonight's second game matching Pine Castle Christian (0-0) and Winter Springs (0-1).

Lake Howell leads by 14 against Edgewater

   Lake Howell (0-0) leads 45-31 over Edgewater (0-0) with one quarter to go in the opening game of the Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament at Winter Park High School.

    The Silver Hawks returned only one starter, senior guard Brett Chance, from a team that cruised to last season's Tip-Off title and went on to win the Class 5A state championship. But Lake Howell has shown good depth around Chance and the ability to run the floor and also hit 3-pointers. Those were attributes that made the Silver Hawks great with Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons and Joey Rodriguez starring in 2006-07.

  It helped that Edgewater (0-0) missed its first 12 shots and 23 of its first 25. Lake Howell led 45-25 late in the third period when sophomore Christian Jones -- a 6-foot-4 transfer from Orangewood Christian -- powered inside for a 3-point play.

Lake Howell hot, Edgewater cold in Tip-Off opener

   The Rotary Tip-Off Classic boys basketball tournament is underway at Winter Park High School. Things aren't looking good for Edgewater, a six-time winner of the prestigious event.

    The Eagles (0-0) missed their first 12 shots and 23 of their first 25 and trail Lake Howell (0-0) at halftime of the opening game 31-15.

     Brett Chance, a senior guard who is the only returning starter back from Lake Howell's Class 5A state title team, got the Hawks going with their first 5 points after the game was scoreless for two minutes and 16 seconds. That lead balooned to 15-0 before senior Chase Crane scored Edgewater's first 4 points late in the first period.

    Tonight's second game matches another defending state champion, Pine Castle Christian (0-0), against Winter Springs (0-1).

Making the most of a good situation

Eustis' boys basketball team is going into this weekend's Mount Dora Thanksgiving Shootout, facing a similar situation to the one it faced at the beginning of the season a year ago. Because the Panthers sports programs share a number of athletes and the playoff success of the football team, Eustis' basketball team went into this season without guards Courtney Keith and Akeem Dunham and forward Kenny Dale.

Continue reading "Making the most of a good situation" »

Mount Dora Thanksgiving Shootout a holiday hoops buffet

    The Mount Dora Thanksgiving Shootout, Friday and Saturday, features 13 games over two days and some of the top boys basketball teams in the area and state.

    Montverde Academy (30-0) and Winter Park (27-5), the No. 1 and 2 teams in Monday's preseason Sentinel Super 6, will play their first two games at the event. Bishop Moore (20-10) gets first crack at Montverde Friday night at 6:30.

Continue reading "Mount Dora Thanksgiving Shootout a holiday hoops buffet" »

Eight Lake/Sumter athletes sign

High school seniors from the Lake/Sumter area kicked off one of the busiest signing days ever for area athletes during the NCAA early signing period. Athletes in sports other than football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men's water polo can sign during the week of Nov. 14-Nov. 21.

Continue reading "Eight Lake/Sumter athletes sign" »

Lake Brantley shares athletes and everybody is happy

  Lake Brantley is one of the larger high schools in Central Florida, blessed with good talent and great coaching and participation. But the school's ability to share athletes in major sports is what makes the school's athletic program special.

   A great example is the Patriots boys basketball team, which had a breakout 24-5 season in 2006-07 while relying more than probably on any other big school in the area on multiple sport athletes.

Continue reading "Lake Brantley shares athletes and everybody is happy" »

Carey now in Kentucky

Shayne Carey has traded in the Eustis hardwood for some Kentucky bluegrass.

Continue reading "Carey now in Kentucky" »

Tavares coaches do flip-flop

Bryan Glass was supposed to be Tavares' head boys basketball coach for the third-year in a row. Kelvin Ferrell was supposed to be coming in as Glass' assistant coach. But Glass and Tavares athletic director Tom Utsman said on Thursday that the two were swapping positions.

Continue reading "Tavares coaches do flip-flop" »

Harris commits to Texas A&M;

Montverde Academy senior Dashan Harris, who spent his summer playing basketball with and against many of the elite high school players in the country, gave an oral commitment to play his college basketball for Texas A&M University next year.

Harris, a 6-foot point guard who set a Montverde Academy school record last year for assists in a season with 309, picked the Aggies on Friday after making an official visit to the school last Tuesday.

Continue reading "Harris commits to Texas A&M;" »

Hoops hysteria at Montverde

Although it is not high school basketball season, the summer has not exactly been a time of rest for Montverde Academy's coaches, players and former players. Coming off a year when Montverde went undefeated (30-0) and was named national prep champions by HoopsUSA.com, No. 4 in USA Today's Super 25 poll and No. 11 by MaxPreps.com, the Eagles were reaping the benefits of their success.

Continue reading "Hoops hysteria at Montverde" »

Lake Howell holdover looking for his chance

    He was far from the first option on a Lake Howell team with University of Florida signees Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons and Virginia Commonwealth recruit Joey Rodriguez the past three years. But Brett Chance is a solid college basketball prospect who should be one of Central Florida’s top seniors in 2007-08.
      Just the type of guy who can benefit big-time with college coaches from all over the nation flocking to Disney’s Wide World of Sports, Champions Sports Complex and other nearby gyms for AAU tournaments over the next two weeks.

Continue reading "Lake Howell holdover looking for his chance" »

Orlando hoops teams have a hometown advantage

     Top basketball travel teams from the Orlando area have what amounts to a homecourt advantage for AAU national events with Disney's Wide World of Sports serving as the base for key exposure events over the next two weeks.

Continue reading "Orlando hoops teams have a hometown advantage" »

Olympia wraps up a 16-0 season in summer league

     Olympia wrapped up a perfect 16-0 performance in the Central Florida Christian Academy’s high school summer basketball league last week.
      The Titans thumped West Oaks Academy 74-49 in a semifinal and then won the league final 61-39 over national power Montverde Academy.
        Montverde edged second seed CFCS 56-53 in overtime in the other league semifinals.

Continue reading "Olympia wraps up a 16-0 season in summer league" »

Evans deals Winter Park first summer hoops loss

   Kendrick Taylor poured in 34 points and Evans dealt Winter Park its first loss of the summer, 90-82, in the finals of the P.A.L. high school summer basketball league at University High Thursday night.

   Winter Park entered the league final with a 36-0 record, including the championship of the University of Florida Team Camp.

Continue reading "Evans deals Winter Park first summer hoops loss" »

Olympia Titans are top seed for CFCA summer playoffs

   Loaded Olympia has a 13-0 league record going into Friday's one-day, eight-team tournament to decide a champion in Central Florida Christian Academy's boys basketball summer league. Games will be played at the CFCA practice gym.

   The Titans still have all the top players from last winter's 21-9 region runner-up team, but are missing former head coach Oliver Simmons. He is scheduled to leave Saturday for a junior college job in Texas. Brian Resnick, a varsity assistant coach for Olympia last season, is directing the Titans summer team and is a candidate for the vacant head coaching position.

Continue reading "Olympia Titans are top seed for CFCA summer playoffs" »

Unbeaten Winter Park vs. Evans in P.A.L. finals

   Austin Rivers, a 14-year-old incoming freshman for Winter Park High School, led all scorers with 23 points to lead the undefeated Wildcats to a 70-60 win over Apopka in the Police Athletic League boys basketball playoffs Wednesday night.

Continue reading "Unbeaten Winter Park vs. Evans in P.A.L. finals" »

Unbeaten Winter Park leads PAL playoff parade

     Winter Park High School, which is 35-0 for the summer, outscored West Orange 98-83 in an opening round playoff game in Police Athletic Leaque boys basketball Tuesday. Two of the next three top-seeded teams weren't as fortunate.

Continue reading "Unbeaten Winter Park leads PAL playoff parade" »

Winter Park goes to 34-0 in summer hoops

    Winter Park ran its summer varsity boys basketball record to 34-0 by winning last weekend’s University of Florida Team Camp tournament. Next up for the Wildcats is the Police Athletic League tournament, which opens tonight.
     Winter Park, the top seed in the eight-team tournament, plays eighth seed West Orange at 7:30 p.m. in the Warriors gym in Winter Garden.

Continue reading "Winter Park goes to 34-0 in summer hoops" »

Friends in high places

    Lake Howell's Nick Calathes and Krystal Thomas of The First Academy got to know each other on flights to and from Louisville for the McDonald's All-American Game last month.

   That made it easy to cheer for each other when they swept the Florida Dairy Farmers 2006-07 Mr. and Miss Basketball awards.

Continue reading "Friends in high places" »

The basketball is rolling

   Florida's repeat NCAA basketball championship is another big bounce for hoops in this state.

   Just like it was a year ago. Just like wnen NBA basketball arrived when the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat were born.

Continue reading "The basketball is rolling" »

Dr. Phillips loses overtime heartbreaker

      A halfcourt heave by Ray Willis bounced off the glass at the buzzer and Dr. Phillips has lost 80-77 to Pompano Beach Ely in overtime in the Class 6A boys basketball championship game at The Lakeland Center.

      Ely players piled on top of each other at midcourt to celebrate. DP players trudged to their bench and slumped into folding chairs, dejected.

   Chris Warren, DP's scintillating senior guard, scored a game-high 38 points in his final performance in Panthers blue. Junior Justyn Watkins added 23 points.

     Ely star Kenny Boynton Jr. had 17 points in the fourth quarter and fouled out with 28. He took 29 shots, making 13.

Ely goes back ahead

  With time out on the floor at 1:47 in overtime, Pompano Beach Ely leads Dr. Phillips 77-74 after making four consecutive free throws in the past 14 seconds of playing time.

   Dr. Phillips opened overtime with a 3-point shot made by senior Chris Warren, who has scored 37 points in a yeoman effort. But Warren has missed two jumpers since, and the Panthers Ray Willis also went 0-for-2 from the foul line at 2:22.

We're going to overtime

   Ely's Derrian Johnson fired in a 3-point shot to tie with 9.1 seconds remaining in regulation and we're headed to overtime in the 6A boys basketball final.

    The Panthers had taken the lead on a 3-pointer by Ray Willis and 1-of-2 free throws made by Makenson Joseph.Kenny Boynton Jr. has fouled out.

DP takes the lead

  Dr. Phillips is on a 7-0 run and has just taken the lead, 70-68, on a 3-point shot from the corner by Ray Willis. Ely called time out with 25.6 remaining to set up its play.

Shootout continues

   A game of surges has fans on the edge of their seats -- or standing. Pompano Beach Ely went on a run to go up 58-51 midway through the fourth quarter of the 6A boys basketball final. Then DP answered. The Panthers got a 4-point play from Makenson Joseph and Ray Willis to close to within 58-55.

    But Ely's Kenny Boynton just made two 3-point shots from ridiculous spots -- with Chris Warren drapped all over him -- to expand the Tigers lead to 68-63 with 1:38 remaining.

Panthers have DP fans in frenzy

  Chris Warren just soared in for a two-handed breakaway dunk to pull Dr. Phillips to within 52-51 and Panthers fans are roaring at The Lakeland Center.

    Ely led 51-45 at one point and was up 52-49 at the end of the third period.

   Warren has 26 points and just picked up a fourth foul against Ely star Kenny Boynton Jr. We've got 5:50 to go.

DP down by 5

  Chris Warren has 18 points at the half, and Dr. Phillips has done a good job containing Pompano Beach Ely star Kenny Boynton Jr. He has 9 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

   But the Panthers trail 36-31 at the half mostly because Ely has gotten a phenomenal performance from senior guard Antwan Baggs, Boynton's cousin. Baggs has 15 points and has made 4-of-4 shots from beyond the 3-point line.

Intensity off the charts for 6A final

  It's a tie game, 12-12, after one quarter of the Class 6A boys basketball final between Dr. Phillips of Orlando and Pompano Beach Ely and these teams are going at it.

   Ely is contesting every inbounds pass. But DP is just as relentless with its halfcourt matchup zone.

   Senior point guard Chris Warren had 10 of DP's 12 points in the opening period.

   Ely star Kenny Boynton went scoreless for 6:33 but then had four points late in the quarter.

Lake Howell.... finally

  After four years of frustration at Lakeland, Lake Howell has won a boys basketball championship.

  The Silver Hawks (29-3) steamrolled St. Petersburg Lakewood Friday night, scoring an 85-42 victory in the Class 5A championship game at The Lakeland Center. It is the biggest margin of victory in the history of FHSAA finals, which began in 1922.


Continue reading "Lake Howell.... finally" »

The celebration has begun

  Lake howell leads by 40 with 3:20 to go and its stars, Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons and Joey Rodriguez were pulled at the 6:22 mark with the clock running with the FHSAA's mercy rule.

   The "Three Amigos" are cheering younger players get their shots and soaking in the moment. Lake Howell hahs won the 5A state basketball title over St. Petersburg Lakewood.

Continue reading "The celebration has begun" »

Silver Hawks are running away

   The pace slowed for the first half of the third quarter for Lake Howell, but the Silver Hawks are back on a scoring spree and lead 60-34 in their 5A boys basketball championship bid against St. Petersburg Lakewood. We have 2:01 to play in the third quarter. The Spartans have been unable to stop Nick Calathes' from attacking the rim and Joey Rodriguez from creating havoc with his creativity.

   Calathes has 22 points and Chandler Parsons 15 for the Hawks.

Lake Howell leads late in second quarter

   You're going to want to watch the Sun Sports television replay on this one. Lake Howell is putting on a show and leads 39-20 six minutes into the second quarter in its Class 5A basketball final.

Continue reading "Lake Howell leads late in second quarter" »

Silver Hawks start fast

  Lake Howell is putting on a show in the Class 5A boys basketball final. The Silver Hawks lead St. Petersburg Lakewood 27-11 after one quarter of play Friday night and it has been a highlight reel.

Continue reading "Silver Hawks start fast" »

Video: Pine Castle wins boys basketball title

Here's Orlando Sentinel video of Pine Castle boys' championship basketball game at the Lakeland Center.

Continue reading "Video: Pine Castle wins boys basketball title" »

Pine Castle takes the title

      Pine Castle Christian (25-6) has done it again. A week after its girls teams won its first-ever state basketball title, the Eagles have accomplished the same feat in boys play.

      Scrappy PCC defeated a much taller Gainesville The Rock (24-8) team 55-46 in Friday's Class 1A state final at The Lakeland Center.

Continue reading "Pine Castle takes the title" »

PCC putting it on ice

  Pine Castle has gone to its four corners passing game and is trying to burn clock on every possession with the lead in its 1A championship game vs. The Rock.

   The Eagles lead 45-33 with 1:49 to go and LaSalle Cooks going to the line for two  shots.

Castle Crazies are roaring

  Pine Castle has scored 10 fourth quarter points on layups against The Rock's fullcourt pressure defense and leads 40-29 with 3:35 to go in its Class 1A state title game.

Continue reading "Castle Crazies are roaring" »

Rock makes a run

   Gainesville's The Rock came out with fullcourt pressure to open the second half against Pine Castle Christian. The Pride forced two turnovers that fueled a a 7-0 run to close the gap.

Continue reading "Rock makes a run" »

Pine Castle's pace

    It's only 18-12 at the half in the Class 1A boys basketball final. xxxxxxxx

Continue reading "Pine Castle's pace" »

PCC makes it work

   It's a defensive, gritty, grind-it-out, hit the floor basketball game so far. Just like Pine Castle Christian likes it.

Continue reading "PCC makes it work" »

Defense doing it for Pine Castle

    Pine Castle's active zone defense held a much taller The Rock team scoreless for the final four minutes, six seconds of the opening quarter and the Eagles lead 11-6 at the break.

Continue reading "Defense doing it for Pine Castle" »

Pine Castle is representing

  The Castle Crazies are streaming in. Pine Castle Christian (24-6) is a half an hour away from its Class 1A state boys basketball championship game against Gainesville's The Rock (24-7) at Lakeland. PCC's legion of fans arrived in cars, charter buses and school buses and will soon fill up about three-fourths of the north side seating at The Lakeland Center.

Continue reading "Pine Castle is representing" »

DP finishes strong and moves on

  Dr. Phillips let Northwestern creep back to within two points with three minutes to go, but the Panthers finished with a flurry of points and won their Class 6A boys basketball semifinal 73-64 Thursday night.

Continue reading "DP finishes strong and moves on" »

Here come the Bulls

   Dr. Phillips hit a cold spell early in the third quarter and Miami Northwestern is charging to make a game of it in the Class 6A semifinal in Lakeland.

Continue reading "Here come the Bulls" »

DP leads at the break

  Justin Watkins, Chris Warren and Ray Willis are pourind in the points and Dr. Phillips leads 41-29 at halftime of its 6A final against Miami Northwestern.

Continue reading "DP leads at the break" »

DP off and running

   Dr. Phillips (24-6) is playing in its first final four game since 1998, but the Panthers are looking like their comfort zone at The Lakeland Center so far.

Continue reading "DP off and running" »

It's over, Silver Hawks soar in semi

   They have saluted their fans and are walking off the floor victorious. Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes both scored 28 points and Joey Rodriguez excelled running the show at the point as Lake Howell rolled to an 86-60 win over Fort Lauderdale Dillard (26-6) in a Class 5A state semifinal Wednesday night.

Continue reading "It's over, Silver Hawks soar in semi" »

Lake Howell on the way to final

  Like so many regular season games, Lake Howell's starters are out with the clock winding down. The Silver Hawks lead 79-54 over Fort Lauderdale Dillard with 1:35 to go in their 5A state semifinal.

Continue reading "Lake Howell on the way to final" »

Silver Hawks sieze control

   Lake Howell broke its state semfinal game open with a flurry of third quarter points and leads 61-43 against Fort Lauderdale Dillard with a minute to go in the third quarter in Lakeland.

Continue reading "Silver Hawks sieze control" »

Lake Howell up at 11 at the break

      Chandler Parsons, a 6-9 senior signed by UF, had 18 points in the first half to carry Lake Howell to a 42-31 lead over Fort Lauderdale Dillard at the midway point of the 5A boys basketball state semifinal at The Lakeland Center.

Continue reading "Lake Howell up at 11 at the break" »

Silver Hawks up 10

   Chandler Parson already has 14 points and Lake Howell leads by 10 after one quarter of its Class 5A semifinal against Fort Lauderdale Dillard

Continue reading "Silver Hawks up 10" »

Lake Howell tips off title bid

  They're off and running the Class 5A boys basketball semifinal in Lakeland, and Lake Howell leads Fort Lauderdale Dillard 12-5.

Continue reading "Lake Howell tips off title bid" »

Lake Howell watches and waits

   Four hours before game time for their Class 5A semifinal, Lake Howell players are sitting pensively at one end of the court watching games at The Lakeland Center in an area reserved for tournament players. The Silver Hawks (27-3) meet Fort Lauderdale Dillard (26-5) tonight at 8:30 p.m.

   It's a high-pressure day for Lake Howell's senior trio of Nick Calathes, Chandler Parson and Joey Rodriguez, who are trying to win a state title to cap brilliant high school careers. But at one point as they watched Florida Air Academy win a 3A semifinal over Jacksonville Ribault all three had headphones on -- chilling with music as they sat quietly.


Continue reading "Lake Howell watches and waits" »

On to the state final for Pine Castle

   Pine Castle Christian (24-6) is the first team to advance to a championship game in the 2007 FHSAA state boys basketball tournament. The Eagles closed out a 49-38 semifinal victory over Boca Raton Grandview Prep (25-6) that was a display of basketball right from the textbook Coach Mark Rickman learned from his dad, longtime Metro Conference icon Wayne Rickman.

Continue reading "On to the state final for Pine Castle" »

PCC holding on

  Pine Castle leads Grandview Prep 45-38 with time out on the floor and 1:22 remaining in a competivive Class 1A state semifinal game in Lakeland.

Continue reading "PCC holding on" »

Eagles bid on the line at the line

  Up by 5 and with Grandview Prep in the double-bonus fouls situation, Pine Castle is spreading the floor and trying to clinch a state semifinal victory from the free throw line.

    The score is 41-36 Pine Castle with play stopped for a Grandview time out.

Continue reading "Eagles bid on the line at the line" »

Pine Castle up 8 with 8 to go

   Pine Castle executed yet another back-door play and leads 34-26 going into the fourth and final quarter of its Class 1A state semifinal against Grandview Prep.

Continue reading "Pine Castle up 8 with 8 to go" »

PCC at the top of its game

   It's early for a basketball game, but Pine Castle Christian is wide awake and executing at both ends in its semifinal against Grandview Prep.

Continue reading "PCC at the top of its game" »

Pine Castle leads by 3 at the half

    Orlando's Pine Castle Christian (23-6) leads Grandview Prep (25-5) of Boca Raton 20-17 at halftime of its Class 1A state semifinal in Lakeland.

Continue reading "Pine Castle leads by 3 at the half" »

Eagles start fast

   Pine Castle (23-6), making its third final four appearance in four years, is off to a fast start.

Continue reading "Eagles start fast" »

Pine Castle tips it off

Starters have been introduced and Orlando's Pine Castle Christian (23-6) is ready to tip off the FHSAA's 2007 boys basketball state tournament with a Class 1A state semifinal game against Grandview Prep (25-5) at The Lakeland Center.

Continue reading "Pine Castle tips it off" »

Basketball just keeps getting better

  It's not supposed to be frigid in Florida, nor is the basketball supposed to be all that great. At least that's the national perception.

Continue reading "Basketball just keeps getting better" »

Girls hoops: Eustis sitting pretty

Eustis' victory Thursday night over Brooksville Nature Coast was not unexpected, but the ease of the Panthers' 70-47 did come as a bit of a surprise. Both teams entered the game with 20 victories. But once Eustis decided to step on the gas in the second quarter, the Sharks were left behind.

Continue reading "Girls hoops: Eustis sitting pretty" »

Nick Calathes by the numbers

  Lake Howell boys basketball senior Nick Calathes is Seminole County's all-time leading career scorer and ranks third all-time in Central Florida behind former Edgewater great Darius Washington (2,961 points) and former New Smyrna Beach star LaDarius Halton (2,860). Here are scoring stats for Calathes, including a game-by-game breakdown of the 2006-07 season:

Continue reading "Nick Calathes by the numbers" »

Chandler Parsons by the numbers

  Lake Howell boys basketball senior Chandler Parsons is a University of Florida recruit. Here are his career stats, including a game-by-game breakdown for points and rebounds in the 2006-07 season:

Continue reading "Chandler Parsons by the numbers" »

Joey Rodriguez by the numbers

  Lake Howell boys basketball senior Joey Rodriguez is a fourth-year point guard and one of Florida's all-time assists leaders. Here are his career stats, including a game-by-game breakdown for points and assists in the 2006-07 season:

Continue reading "Joey Rodriguez by the numbers" »

Rolle has Eustis rolling

Perhaps one of the most difficult jobs in high school sports -- or sports in general -- is for a coach to take over a team in midseason and be successful.

Continue reading "Rolle has Eustis rolling" »

Lake Howell aims for 5A state title in final shot for seniors

Class 5A boys basketball

    No. 1 ranked Lake Howell has gotten to Lakeland for the 5A final four four years in a row, and is defeinitely the clearcut region favorite.  Here's my  breakdown of the 5A area boys basketball classification as the playoffs approach:

Continue reading "Lake Howell aims for 5A state title in final shot for seniors" »

Edgewater vs. DP could be a playoff preview

Class 6A boys basketball

   Metro Conference teams have dominated 6A, Region 1 for over a decade. It will be interesting to see if that continues in a year where depth and parity may be better than ever.

     A key is whether or not the two Seminole Athletic Conference teams that come out of improved District 3 can succeed in first round games against Orange County’s District 3 finalists. Lake Brantley topped Lyman for the District 3 title last season, then both were bounced out in the first round by Metro teams (LB by Evans, Lyman by Winter Park).

     A game to watch is Edgewater at Dr. Phillips, Jan. 29. Both sit at No. 1 in their district as of this writing.

   Teams in District 5 compete in Region 2, and there is a definite possibility that Greater Orlando can get two teams to the state tournament in Lakeland (Feb. 28-March 3). Here is a look at the teams with the best shot to make that run:

Continue reading "Edgewater vs. DP could be a playoff preview" »

Top-ranked Lake Mary Prep leads list of 1A contenders

Class 1A boys basketball

    These are the smallest schools, but this may be the highest-quality classification in Central Florida when compared to the rest of the state. There is virtually no gap anymore between top 1A teams and the talent at the big schools. Lake Mary Prep, the 2005-06 state runner-up, played state-ranked 6A Lake Brantley down to the wire in a 53-49 defeat and is again a state title contender. Pine Castle Christian and Orlando Christian Prep are both top five type teams and serious threats to LMP's reign in the region. PCC's only loss in January was to unbeaten Monterde Academy. Here's my  breakdown of the area 1A boys basketball classification as the playoffs approach:

Continue reading "Top-ranked Lake Mary Prep leads list of 1A contenders" »

Calathes No. 4 on area scoring list and climbing

  Lake Howell senior Nick Calathes has broken school and Seminole County scoring records and climbed to fourth on the Sentinel coverage area all-time basketball scoring list. Here is the top 10 through Jan. 23:

Continue reading "Calathes No. 4 on area scoring list and climbing" »

Brantley, Edgewater lead crowded 6A basketball race

Class 6A boys basketball

Metro Conference teams have dominated 6A, Region 1 for over a decade. It will be interesting to see if that continues in a year where depth and parity may be better than ever.

A key is whether or not the two Seminole Athletic Conference teams that come out of improved District 3 can succeed in first round games against Orange County’s District 3 finalists. Lake Brantley topped Lyman for the District 3 title last season, then both were bounced out in the first round by Metro teams (LB by Evans, Lyman by Winter Park).

Teams in District 5 compete in Region 2, and there is a definite possibility that Greater Orlando can get two teams to the state tournament in Lakeland (Feb. 28-March 3). Here is a look at the teams with the best shot to make that run:

Continue reading "Brantley, Edgewater lead crowded 6A basketball race" »

Calathes No. 4 on area scoring list and climbing

  Lake Howell senior Nick Calathes has broken school and Seminole County scoring records and climbed to fourth on the Sentinel coverage area all-time basketball scoring list. Here is the top 10 through Jan. 23:

Continue reading "Calathes No. 4 on area scoring list and climbing" »

Top-ranked Lake Mary Prep tops 1A contenders list

Class 1A boys basketball

    These are the smallest schools, but this may be the highest-quality classification in Central Florida when compared to the rest of the state. As Orlando Christian Prep showed several years ago, you can almost overnight accumulate enough talent to be a force in basketball. The Warriors have joined 2005-06 state runner-up Lake Mary Prep and Pine Castle Christian as legitimate championship contenders. Here's my first breakdown of area boys basketball by classification as the playoffs approach:

Continue reading "Top-ranked Lake Mary Prep tops 1A contenders list" »

Clark making good on change of scenery

For most, it would be a difficult decision, but for Montverde's Gary Clark leaving Sarasota Booker after winning the 4A state championship last basketball season and transferring to Montverde Academy, a program that volunatrily dropped out of the state playoff system four years ago, the decision was a no-brainer.

Continue reading "Clark making good on change of scenery" »

Coach or stand-up comic?

Mount Dora's boys basketball team is off to an 11-3 start -- one of its best in a long time -- and everyone seems to be enjoying it, including fourth-year head coach John Liptak. Before the start of his team's game Thursday night against Leesburg, one of the two teams that has beaten the Hurricanes this season, the referees noticed a problem with the markings for the coaching box -- the area coaches are allowed to stand in -- in front of each team's bench.

Continue reading "Coach or stand-up comic?" »

Montverde off to school record start

Is there a boys basketball team in the state who has collected more hardware already this season than Montverde Academy? Montverde's boys basketball team has accomplished a lot since Kevin Sutton took over the boys basketball program at the school that at one time struggled to win more than a game or two a season.

Continue reading "Montverde off to school record start" »

A big fourth quarter and a night to remember

Will anybody in Central Florida have a bigger fourth quarter this season than Garrett Corsair had last week? It certainly was an unforgettable night last week -- and it is one that will be commemorated with a ball in the trophy case at The Villages High School.

Continue reading "A big fourth quarter and a night to remember" »

Sunshine togetherness

        Talking about point guard Joey Rodriguez of Lake Howell, and the Hawks' triple division 1 signing-ot be, i mentioned Rodriguez going to ODU (Old Dominion). I meant Virginia Commonwealth (VCA) where he is one of FIVE Floridians who expect to sign on Nov. 8. He would join Myk Brown of PK Yonge, Deluis Ramirez of Miami via Odessa (texas) JC, Larry Sanders of Port St. Lucie and Lance Kearse of Fort Myers.

       It looks like there may be a record number of boys basketball division 1 signings this year.

Lots of recruiting

        Chandler Parsons and Nick Calethese will continue to feed off each other's energy and assists at the next level. Parsons, 6-8 Lake Howell senior, committed this past week to Florida, joining an incoming group of recruits that includes Calethes and 6-7 Adam Allen of Milton.

          UF and FSU got a jump on some outstanding baseball players. The Gators got a pledge from Boone infielder and slugger Ryan Matthews. FSU got commitments from Boone outfielder Stuart Tapley and Lake Brantley pitcher John Gast.

      B.J. Neller, the Sentinel's Central Florida lacrosse player of the year from Winter Park, has enrolled at perennial NCAA Division III contender Salisbury (Md.) College, winners of three national titles in the past four years.

     Some of the unheralded heroes from the first week of high school football include Trey Blackman of Lake Brantley, Josh Vanarsdale of Timber Creek, Jim Andrews of Olympia and V.J. Floyd of Bishop Moore. Blackman had 10 tackles as Brantley stunned Apopka, 7-3. VanArsdale had 11 tackles as the Creek beat Oviedo, 20-13. Andrews had three picks in Olympia's 26-2 triumph over Freedom and Floyd rushed for 164 and four touches as Bishop Moore crushed Umatilla, 35-0. 

Talk to us

As you guys know, the high school sports season is almost over. Let's rewind for a moment and hear your thoughts.

What was your favorite sports moment? Jones High School winning the boys state basketball championship? Winter Park's hot run to state in football? Oak Ridge girls track?

Who should be athlete of the year?

Who's the most underrated athlete?

Who had the best sports team this season?

Let's hear 'em!

Lake County basketball hotbed

Lake County boys basketball teams have proven to be a gold mine for collegiate basketball programs mining for players this year.

Continue reading "Lake County basketball hotbed" »

Calathes leads Nike team to final four

     Lake Howell junior Nick Calathes made the all-tournament team and led Nike Team Florida to its first-ever Gold Division final four appearance at last weekend’s Boo Williams Classic in Virginia. The Nike team lost 53-50 in the semifinals to Houston Hoops, which finished as the runner-up to the host Boo Williams team.
     Calathes, a 6-foot-5 guard, had 33, 32 and 28-point games as Nike went 4-1. His Lake Howell teammate, Chandler Parsons (6-8/Jr.), also played well.

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Nike Team Florida takes title

        Nike Team Florida revved up for the boys basketball travel-team season with a 6-0 record at its own tournament at Lake Howell last weekend. Mr. Basketball award winner Nick Calathes of Lake Howell hit four consecutive 3-point shots in one surge in the final as the Nike club ran away from the Florida Rams, coached by Travis Jones of Winter Springs.

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Calathes got to share the thrill

  The move three years ago by the Florida Dairy Farmers to take its state high school player of the year awards presentations to campuses was a great one. We saw that again Friday morning at Lake Howell, where move than 500 students, teachers, family members and friends gathered in the school auditorium to celebrate the Mr. Basketball honor bestowed upon Silver Hawks' star Nick Calathes.

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Calathes, Hixenbaugh win state hoops honors

  Lake Howell's Nick Calathes has become the third underclassmen to win the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Basketball award. And Matt Hixenbaugh, the second-year coach for Winter Park's 28-5 state runner-up team, was voted boys basketball Coach of the Year.

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Where Bob Huggins goes, Jason Bennett will follow

The word's not official yet, but it looks like Arlington Country Day's 7-foot-3 center Jason Bennett will attend Kansas State.

Kansas State's name wasn't in the mix for Bennett a few weeks ago, but when Bob Huggins name became synonymous with Wildcats, the school shot to the top of the list. Bennett has a scheduled visit to Kansas State next Thursday. He also visited Auburn a few weeks back, but Bennett's clan made no secret about his desire to follow Huggins, former University of Cincinnati coach. Huggins formally accepted the Wildcats coaching job March 23.

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Who is our boys basketball player of the year?

In this Thursday's Varsity The Weekly, we name the Orlando Sentinel's All-Central Florida boys basketball player of the year and our All-CF teams.

Here are our candidates for player of the year:

NIck Calathes, Lake Howell
Tyrone Curnell, West Orange
Dante Curry, Poinciana
Jeremiah Rivers, Winter Park
Jarvis Williams, Jones
Taylor Young, First Academy

Who do you think should win?

Dunking over mom dukes

Could Vince Carter or Michael Jordan think of this? Dante Curry of Poinciana high school leaped over his mother to finish off a two-handed jam in the slam dunk portion of the 2006 Senior Showcase All Star weekend.

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Mr. Florida Basketball talk

    The final ballot has not been announced, but we've learned that Lake Howell junior Nick Calathes and First Academy senior Taylor Young will be two of the six finalists for the 2006 Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Basketball award.

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Best boys basketball player?

Nick Calathes appeared to be a clear front runner as our Central Florida boys basketball Player of the Year. But with Lake Howell taking an unexpected early exit from the state basketball tournament, that leaves one question, should he still be voted as the best Central Florida boys basketball player for the 2005-06 season?

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The Flying Tigers

How about those Flying Tigers.

Jones dominated the backboard (13 rebounds by Jarvis Williams) and brought home a boys basketball state championship from the Lakeland Center, beating St. Andrew's of Boca Raton, 48-45. The Tigers at one time led by 15 points but never lost the lead after the midway point of the first quarter. Williams, the 6-5 senior who made three trips to state in his four varsity years, lived up to his reputation as a rebounding machine.

best athlete?

No matter the outcome todayh inb Lakeland, is there a better athlete in Central Florida than Jones' Jarvis Williams. He finished strong in the football season with 37 catches and a grfant-in-aikd to North Carolina State. And for the three basketball games leading to the Class 3A state championship game vs. Boca Raton St. Andrews, he has been a manchild on the boards and a dominating player on the road twice to Gainesville and in the state semis at the Lakeland Center. He is playing well enough to contribute to NC State's Top 20 program in hoops as well as hikes.

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Hear from Johnny Mullen

Orlando Christian Prep almost halted Lake Mary Prep's unbelievable loss-free ride to state last Saturday.

Thanks to Johnny Mullen's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, the Griffins are competing against Laurel Hill today in the state final four round.

Click on the link below and hear more from Mullen about the game-winning thriller.

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Breaking new basketball ground

None of the six Central Florida teams playing in this week's FHSAA state boys basketball tournament have won a state championship, but in a couple of classifications that won't be a disadvantage because nobody else has a resume stocked full of titles won either.

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Finally, on to state

Eustis' boys basketball team will return to the state tournament for the first time since 1991 later this week, when the Panthers head to Lakeland for the Class 4A state tournament. For Eustis, it was the end of a long dry spell. Eustis has not been to state since 1991 and has reached the regional final six years in a row, but had lost five years in a row.

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One More Time

Eustis' boys basketball team is one of Central Florida's most successful teams. For the sixth year in a row, Eustis' boys basketball team has reached the regional championship game. But, that is where the Panthers' luck has ended. The team is 0-for-5 in regional finals.

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Region finals set for boys hoops

   Nine Orlando-area boys basketball teams are a win away from qualifying for next week's FHSAA state tournament in Lakeland. They play in region finals Saturday.

   With two district final rematches, Evans at Winter Park and Bishop Moore at Eustis, plus Orlando Christian Prep playing at unbeaten Lake Mary Prep (30-0) in 1A, we are guaranteed at least three qualifiers. The max is seven.

  Here are the matchups:

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...On any given night

I don't know about you, but i have been fascinated by the number of upsets in the state boys basketball playoffs. Teams we thought would win did not. But I truly think that's to the credit of the players from schools like Evans, Lake Mary Prep, Timber Creek and Olympia who refused to be beaten by schools expected to win resulting unexpected regional showdowns. On any given night truly lived up to its motto.

Congratulations to the state tournament girls teams from OCP, TFA, Bishop Moore, Lake Mary and Boone. 

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State set for Pine Castle-Lake Mary Prep

With a veteran team fueled by final four losses the past two years, Pine Castle Christian (25-3) has played its entire season with one ultimate goal in mind - a state champiolnship. But to get back to Lakeland, the Eagles will have to go through a roadblock put up by upstart Lake Mary Prep. The Griffins have the state's only perfect record (29-0) in boys basketball and will be at home against PCC Tuesday night at 7 in a Class 1A, Region 2 semfinal showdown.

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No slouch for Silver Hawks

  District champions get homecourt advantage for Thursday's boys basketball region quarterfinal games, but that doesn't always mean an easy game. Lake Howell (23-4), a 5A state title contender, drew what I'm thinking is the most talented opponent in its region.

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Winter Park vaults to top of poll

Winter Park's victory over Edgewater (21-4) in the inaugural Metro Conference boys basketball championship game vaulted the Wildcats (21-4) from No. 5 all the way to the top of this week's Class 6A state poll. It has to have been decades since Winter Park was ranked No. 1 in the state in boys hoops.

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District basketball matchups are set

Boys basketball district tournament matchups were published in today's edition of the Sentinel, and are duplicated below.

  We also have the boys soccer region semifinal pairings in today's Sentinel. The one game played in the area pits undefeated Winter Park (23-0-3) at Pine Ridge (18-2-1) in Deltona.

  Next round of the girls basketball playoffs is Thursday, with a slate that includes an Oviedo (22-5) at Edgewater (24-2) game that might be the best region quarterfinal matchup in the state.

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Royal treatment

  The First Academy boys and girls basketball teams are a combined 20-0 in 2006.

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Metro race is messy

It's safe to say the Metro Conference's new one-game playoff format is not unanimously popular, not by a long shot. The boys basketball race in particular is imperfect because the balance of power clearly tilts to the West this year.

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Oviedo can shake Super Six

  Lake Howell (20-4) remains No. 1 in our boys basketball Super Six rankings, but it's a slippery slope with arch-rival Oviedo (20-4) coming to the Silver Hawks gym Friday night.

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Montverde Invites the best

Whiole much of the attention over the next couple of days will be centered on the girls basketball district tournament semifinals and finals, a boys basketball tournament at tiny Montverde Academy will feature some of the nation's best high school teams. The tournament begins tonight and continues through Saturday.

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Can Pine Ridge take two?

Pine Ridge claimed the Five Star Conference boys soccer crown on its way to a 17-2-1 season that continues with a region quarterfinal at home Thursday against Orange Park (9-9-3). And the Panthers are chasing another conference title in boys basketball.

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Good timing for Bulldogs

  DeLand lost Five Star Conference boys basketball games to Pine Ridge, Seabreeze and Atlantic, and will not repeat as the league champion. But the Bulldogs went 7-1 in Class 6A, District 2 games. That record gives DeLand the No. 1 seed position for next week's 6A-2 tournament, which it will host.

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Metro mania

  Winter Park has all but wrapped up the host spot in Friday's Metro Conference boys basketball championship game as the East division representative, but it's a mess in the West with a lot of big games to be squeezed in this week. Only the final seven games played after Jan. 4 count in the new format, which I'm hearing may not live past this school year.

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Panthers are sitting pretty

       Dr. Phillips ran the table at 8-0 in 6A, District 5 boys basketball and is the top seed for next week's postseason tournament.

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Tough road for Ocoee

       Ocoee is the host for next week’s Class 6A, District 4 boys basketball tournament, but the first-year Knights will have to get through two rounds just to get a postseason bounce on their home floor. The first two rounds are being played at home sites of the higher-seeded teams and hard-luck Ocoee is at the bottom of that list.

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How our Super 6 shakes out

   To add a little insight to our list of the top boys basketball teams in Central Florida, here's a little more information than you usually get with our Sentinel Super 6, published in the Sentinel's Thursday editions. I have included key games remaining as we come down the stretch run toward the playoffs, plus a list of teams that are "knocking at the door" for a spot in the rankings.

   Feel free to share your thoughts on who should be moved up or down.

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Is Basketball now king in Lake?

When I first came to work in Lake County in 1978, high school football and baseball were the sports that the county had built its reputation on and baketball was just something that was done to keep the athletes occupied between those two seasons.

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Something for everybody

Would you believe there was something for everybody as recruiting moves into its final week. Miami and USF added four commitments, UCF got a pair. B-CC and FAU added to the board and a number of Central Florida athletes committed to playing at the next level.

And it wasn't just football. Joey Rodriguez, the talented junior point guard for Lake Howell committed to U-Mass of the Atlantic-10, a high-level performer to a high-level league.

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St. Cloud and Harmony

I attended the Harmony-St. Cloud boys basketball game last night at Harmony and I have to say it was pretty intense.

The gym was crowded, stuffy and became warmer as time passed. The Harmony students stood most of the game, shouting unkind things and holding up all kinds of signs directed at St. Cloud. There a lot of St. Cloud folks there, too. Harmony won the game, evening the season series at one victory apiece.

Watching these teams play, you get the feeling that there will be a lot of memorable games between the schools for decades to come. In fact, they could develop into one of the best rivalries in Central Florida ...

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Baez sets school record/rivalry musings

Gateway senior Chris Baez set a school record last Friday against Cypress Creek when he scored 50 points. We had 54 in the paper the next day, but Gateway coach Bob Baker says it's 50, so we'll go with that ...

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MLK shootout

Martin Luther King Jr. and Shootout.

Those words aren't from a news story, but tied to the name of a high school boys basketball event that took place Friday and Saturday at Jones high school.

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Terrell wants hoops

Eustis senior Kadero Terrell had a great football season as a linebacker and was honored to be selected a first-team All-Central Florida football player by the Sentinel.

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State boys basketball title remains elusive

Edgewater (12-2) is No. 1 in today's Class 6A boys basketball poll, with Dr. Phillips (13-2), Winter Park (11-3), East Ridge (13-2) and Evans (11-3) all in the top 10. Oviedo (12-4) is on the verge. It's a clear signal that Greater Orlando has passed South Florida as the hotbed for hoops in this state. Our area is deeper in top talent and top teams than anybody else right now.

  But it doesn't mean a state championship is in the bag.

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Spruce Creek sweep?

Spruce Creek's reign as the Five Star Conference all-sports champ is getting a big boost in the winter sports season. The Hawks state champ girls weightlifting team won the conference title last Saturday at home and two other Spruce Creek girls teams are poised to wrap their own Five Star titles.

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Ocoee liked the big house

Ocoee's surging boys basketball team went 3-1 at the Carbondale, Ill., Holiday Tournament last week, a thrill in itself for a squad that started the season 0-4. But Scott Eggleston, the Knight coach, said the reason his young players want to return next December is because they got to play four games at Southern Illinois University.

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Guess who I saw?

Remember Craig Mateer? He is a member of Boone High's sports Hall of Fame and one of the school's most prominent basketball players. I remember watching him play and especially shoot foul shots. He's now a prominent Orlando businessman and it was great fun and memories running into him at a popular Thornton Park eating establishment. Craig, thanks for the memories.

Four on the floor at Pine Castle

The Midnight Basketball Invitational boys basketball tournament almost was not to be this year with popular tournament director Arthur Jackson recovering from illness. But Miami Central (3-7) signed on to fill a four-team bracket and the MBI is now a good-looking tournament this weekend.

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Where's Varsity The Weekly?

Varsity The Weekly continues its holiday break, so there won't be an issue this Thursday, Jan. 5. But ... we'll be back on Thursday Jan. 12 with a whole new look and some new, exciting features. I hope you'll make a point to take a look at the new Varsity The Weekly next week!

(Oh, the Orlando Sentinel Varsity Sports TV show returns this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on WESH-Channel 2. The show will feature highlights from the holiday tournaments as well as a look at our All-Central Florida Football Team, which was in Varsity The Weekly on Dec. 12.)

Eustis boys basketball doubles up

Eustis’ boys basketball team defeated an Eagle Lake Lake Region team coached by Eustis graduate Scott Williams 59-57 in the championship game of the Lake’s Great Eight tournament at Eustis.

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