DP edges Olympia, Oak Ridge rallies in boys basketball playoff wins

Buddy Collings, Orlando Sentinel
·7 min read

Dr. Phillips scored just three baskets in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night. But in a game where every point was precious that was enough to give the Panthers a 47-45 victory over arch-rival Olympia in boys basketball region semifinal game on Tuesday night.

It was DP’s third victory in as many games against the Titans and all three gone either way.

Riley Kugel, a junior guard, made a 3-point shot to give the Panthers a 42-41 lead early in the final quarter and then notched his team’s final points with a basket with 1:50 remaining and a free throw with just half a second to go in the game.

Kugel purposely missed his second shot and time ran out as Olympia’s final inbounds pass off a time out was broken up.

Dr. Phillips (21-3), No. 2 in the MaxPreps Class 7A power ratings, will carry a nine-game winning streak into Friday night’s Region 1 championship game. The Panthers will be home against Sanford Seminole (15-7) in the school’s ninth boys basketball region final appearance – but first since its 2010 and 2011 state runner-up finishes.

Region winners advance to next week’s FHSAA state tournament in Lakeland.

DP survived Tuesday despite making only three of its 10 free throw opportunities.

Big Panthers plays down the stretch included a 3-point shot by senor Ledger Hatch, blocked shot by junior center Ernest Udeh Jr., and a takeaway by Hatch that led to a reverse layin by Denzel Aberdeen

Kugel and Aberdeen, also a standout junior guard, both scored 16 points in the victory.

A sensational 25-point performance by Olympia’s E.J. “Jizzle” James, a sophomore guard, was all for naught for the Titans (21-7), who went 0-3 against DP this season in games that all could have gone the other way. Olympia was No. 4 in MaxPreps ratings that were updated on Tuesday.

“Our kids just didn’t crumble,” DP coach Ben Witherspoon said. “They just kept believing we were the better teams and things were going to work out.”

DP had beaten Olympia twice in overtime games – once in the regular season and once in the District 3 tournament final.

Olympia coach Rob Gordon was surrounded by a distraught squad as the game ended.

“Our kids worked so hard and put so much into this. It’s hard to say you’re done,” Gordon said with most of his players in tears.

Seminole steals: Seminole’s full-court defensive pressure forced 19 turnovers in a 72-49 homecourt victory over St. Johns Bartram Trail (12-14).

The takeaways numerous fast-break buckets for the ‘Noles (16-7), who led 39-25 midway through the third period.

Jonah Pierce, a 6-7 senior, had 24 points and 9 rebounds in the win. Uchenna Kellman-Nicholes added 14 points.

Chris Hays

Pioneers prevail: The six seniors for Oak Ridge weren’t quite ready for their season to be over Tuesday night.

The Pioneers, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 7A, withstood the early punches from host Windermere in the regional semifinals, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the first half to win 68-58 in a Region 2 semifinal.

Oak Ridge (22-2) trailed by eight points at the half before opening the third quarter on a 10-2 run. That momentum shift saw the Pioneers with a five-point lead by the quarter’s end and they would lead by as many as 13 points midway through the fourth.

Spurred on by a determined effort from senior Trey Moss, who tallied a game-high 23 points, Windermere (17-6) would get within five points in the game’s final two minutes — but no closer.

Oak Ridge senior Michael James led the Pioneers with 20 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Junior guard Fabio Basili weighed in with 19 points, including 11 points to key Oak Ridge during the pivotal third-quarter swing.

“They were special tonight,” Pioneers head coach Steve Reece said afterward of James and Basili. “They didn’t want to go home.”

Oak Ridge will be home against Sarasota Riverview (22-6) in Friday night’s region final.

Steven Ryzewski

OCP cruises: Reigning state champ Orlando Christian Prep beat City of Life Christian 67-38 in a Class 2A Region 3 semifinal to tie an Orlando area record for consecutive wins.

The Warriors (24-0) led 19-2 after the first quarter and 35-13 at halftime on its way to a 44th consecutive win dating to last season. That ties an Orlando-area record set earlier this season by Montverde Academy (20-1) – which plays outside the FHSAA playoff system.

“We’re just looking at being 1-0 after each game,” said OCP coach Treig Burke said. “We’re just trying to play well every time we step onto the court and see where that gets us.”

AJ Brown led OCP with 17 points and five rebounds, while Ven-Allen Lubin had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Josh Blazquez added 11 points, four steals and three assists.

Daniel Rosado led City of Life (25-34) with 17 points and three assists off the bench, while Troy Battle added eight points.

Daniel Rosado led City of Life with 17 points off the bench.

Eight-time state champ OCP will be home again on Friday for a region final rematch against Central Florida Christian Academy (21-7).

Nick Rodriguez scored 17 points and Tevian Jones added 14 as CFCA broke away from visiting Mount Dora Christian in the second quarter and won 72-50 in Class 2A.

Jamar Houston made a 3-point shot to beat the halftime horn for CFCA.

Rodney Bryant scored 19 points for Mount Dora Christian, which finishes 21-7.

Steve Gorches and Lynn Ramsey

Trinity Prep wins: Krishen Atwal scored 29 points and Javon Bennett added 28 as Trinity Prep overcame cold third-quarter shooting and won 75-71 at The First Academy in a 75-71 in a 3A, Region 1 semifinal.

The Saints (9-8) will be at home against another district runner-up, Jacksonville Jackson (18-6), in Friday’s region final.

The Saints split the season series 2-2 against TFA (15-9), and this game was as close as the series.

Sean Johnson scored 16 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter for the Royals, who led by 6 points early, then rallied from 15 points down to regain the lead. Jayden Battle added 18 points, including a bucket 22 seconds into the fourth quarter for a 48-46 TFA lead.

Lynn Ramsey

LHP, Leesburg win: Lake Highland Prep won 65-51 at home vs. Eustis in 4A Region 2.

The Highlanders (13-7), the reigning region champ, will be home again for Friday’s final against Alachua Santa Fe (18-5).

Leesburg won 66-61 at Hudson Fivay in a 5A Region 2 semifinal.

The Yellow Jackets (15-4) will be home for Friday’s region final against Rockledge (24-4).

Tuesday scores

Class 7A Region 1 semifinals

Seminole 72, Bartram Trail 49

Dr. Phillips 47, Olympia 45

Class 7A Region 2 semifinals

Oak Ridge 68, Windermere 58

Sarasota Riverview 78, Tampa Alonso 71

Class 5A Region 2 semifinals

Leesburg 66, Hudson Fivay 61

Rockledge 46, Auburndale 44

Class 4A Region 2 semifinals

Alachua Santa Fe 41, Gainesville Eastside 31

Lake Highland Prep 65, Eustis 51

Class 3A Region 1 semifinals

Jacksonville Jackson 58, Jacksonville Bishop Snyder 37

Trinity Prep 75, The First Academy 71

Class 2A Region 3 semifinals

Central Florida Christian Academy 72, Mount Dora Christian 50

Orlando Christian Prep 67, City of Life Christian 38

This article was first published at OrlandoSentinel.com. Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at bcollings@orlandosentinel.com.