OCP, Oak Ridge among teams in Challenge
to force overtime after falling behind by 15 points against Tallahassee St. John Paul II. But the Panthers won 50-48 on a dunk by senior forward Allan Jeanne-Rose as time expired.
Jones is coming off a 15-11 season under second-year coach Alex Jackson and has added senior guard Shakur Poteat (6-2) as a transfer from Edgewater.
Windermere High, which reached the 8A final four as a second-year school last season, opens this year’s MVFC with a 9:15 a.m. game against Mount Dora. The Wolverines, preseason No. 9 in what is now the class for the state’s largest schools (7A), also play on Saturday against No. 9 5A Leesburg on Saturday night.
Windermere may have the state’s best trifecta of junior guards with Trey Moss (6-3), E.J. Yorke (5-11) and Kanye Jones (6-3), a transfer from The First Academy.
MVFC host Apopka, ranked No. 3 in 7A, is one of the schools that will play twice. The Blue Darters, led by junior point guard John Latimer III and Florida Gulf Coast recruit Zach Anderson (6-7, Sr.), take on No. 7 3A Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Oak Ridge, which is rated No. 2 in 7A, plays No. 5 6A Daytona Beach Mainland in the final game of the first day and that could be a show. The Pioneers have added juniors Michael James (6-5), Rodrick Henry (6-6) and Jeremiah Bannister (6-6) to a roster stocked with underclass talent, including slick junior guard Jalen Smith (6-1) and sophomore Lewis Jones (6-6).
Oak Ridge was 40-3 against Florida teams during the past two seasons — including its run to the 2017-18 large-class title.
Saturday’s finale pits neighboring schools against each other, with No. 6 7A Ocoee facing No. 3 2A Central Florida Christian Academy, which won the 2A state title last season.
Ocoee has 11 seniors, including Hofstra signee David Green (6-7) and Illinois State signee Alston Andrews (6-9, Sr.), who sat out his junior season due to injury.
Other ranked teams in the field are No. 6, Class 6A Edgewater, which is led by Appalachian State signee Michael Eads; No. 10 4A Eustis; and No. 7 2A Mount Dora Christian.
Kissimmee Osceola, which won two of the past three 9A state titles, is unranked and in rebuilding mode as it opens its campaign against Evans, which joined the Kowboys in the final four last season, in a Saturday morning game.
Others to watch include The Master’s Academy, which added Morehead State signee Andrew Thelwell (6-3) and a 6-11 senior center, Joe Barrett, from Great Britain; Windermere Prep, which has Fanbo Zeng a highly-skilled 6-9 sophomore from China; and Dr. Phillips, which could surprise with 3-point sharpshooter Abdoulaye Thiam (6-3, Sr.) and 6-8 sophomore Ernest Udeh.
The FHSAA sports calendar shifted the start of boys basketball’s regular season back to Thanksgiving week this year, opening the door for the 10th Metro vs. Florida event to return to the November holiday break. It was played on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in February the past two years.
Admission is $10 for a single-day pass and $15 for a three-day pass.
Here is the Metro vs. Florida Challenge schedule:
Dora, 9:15 a.m.
Wekiva vs. The Master’s Academy, 11 a.m.
Timber Creek vs. Eustis,
vs. Mount 12:15 p.m.
Edgewater vs. Brantley, 1:45 p.m.
Lake Nona vs. Seminole, 3:30 p.m.
Jones vs. Orlando Christian Prep, 5:30 p.m.
Apopka vs. Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oak Ridge vs. Mainland, 8:30 p.m. vs.
Freedom vs. Mount Dora Christian, 11 a.m.
Orlando University vs. Windermere Prep, 12:15 p.m.
Cypress Creek vs. Winter Springs, 1:45 p.m.
West Orange vs. Auburndale, 3:30 p.m.
Olympia vs. Bartow, 5:30 p.m.
Dr. Phillips vs. Oviedo, 7 p.m.
Boone vs. Bishop Moore, 8:30 p.m.
Winter Park vs. Lake Highland Prep, 10 a.m.
Evans vs. Osceola, a.m.
East River vs. Wales, 12:45 p.m.
Apopka vs. Seminole, 2:30 p.m. (girls game)
Apopka vs. Hagerty, 4:30 p.m.
Colonial vs. Vero Beach, 6 p.m.
Ocoee vs. Central Florida Christian Academy, 9 p.m. 11:15
Orlando Christian Prep senior guard Jonthy Candelario (12) pushes the ball down court as the defense presses in a Hagerty Preseason Jamboree game on Nov. 22.