Montverde Academy, ranked No. 1 nationally by ESPN and PrepNation, traded baskets with underdog Nashville, Tenn., Ensworth through a frenetic boys basketball first quarter on Thursday night.
The Eagles (12-0) finally got breathing room by getting stops. Montverde outscored Ensworth 20-2 to start the second period en route to a 98-78 victory in its own holiday classic. That decisive run came after a seesaw first quarter that ended with Montverde clinging to a 28-27 lead and Eagles coach Kevin Boyle demanding more effort from his team during the break between stanzas.
Montverde’s big men, Dakari Johnson and Devin Williams, both got out on the break for dunks and Jaylin Patterson came off the bench to score 11 points in less than a quarter during the surge. Johnson finished with 21 points, Williams with 19, and Patterson with 11. Another reserve, Justin Bibbs, scored 13 for a team that seems to be able to go deeper with every passing week.
“We looked lethargic at times and kind of picked our spots,” Boyle said after the win. “But give (Ensworth) credit. They space the floor and shoot it well.”
Orlando Christian Prep (8-2) also was challenged by a new-look Deltona (4-8), but broke away in the fourth quarter with Michael Walmer and Adonys Henriquez combining to make three 3-point shots.
Henriquez, a 6-5 junior who recently committed to sign with Miami, finished with 28 points for the Warriors.
Senior guard Marko Smith scored 24 for Deltona, which is 2-1 since Deltona Trinity Christian transfers Chad Brown (6-7, Soph.), Jerome Monroe (6-6, Jr.) and Torrey Howell (5-8, Soph.) were cleared to participate.
Great Florida Shootout scene
Antwon Clayton, a 6-foot-5 junior, had a career-high 27 points to go with 16 rebounds and five blocked shots to propel Eustis (9-5) to an 83-76 win over Gainesville, Ga., East Hall (3-5) as the Great Florida Shootout opened at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
Undefeated Oviedo (12-0) and hometown Osceola (6-6) also advanced to Friday’s semifinal round.
East Hall rallied from 19 down to tie Eustis at 52. The Panthers regained control with a 7-2 run and made nine consecutive free throws when they counted most. Eustis was 27-of-36 for the game (75-percent).
Clayton lifted off for two emphatic high-rise dunks and also skied above the rim for a blocked shot that thumped the wall beyond the end line.
“He plays 94-feet like nobody I’ve seen in my 29 years of coaching,” Panthers coach Mike Bowe said.
Eustis plays a 3:30 p.m. Silver Bracket semifinal on Thursday against Toronto St. Michael’s (17-1), a top five Canadian team facing U.S. schools for the first time in 12 seasons under coach Jeff Zownir. The winner will face either Fort Lauderdale Dillard (8-5) or South Atlanta (9-1) on Saturday night.
R.J. June scored 23 of his game-high 26 points in the second half as Oviedo finished strong in a 71-54 win over Palm Bay Heritage (10-3). The Lions ended the game on a 24-10 run.
“We didn’t give them the shots they got in the first half,” said Oviedo coach Ed Kershner. “And R.J. really took over inside.”
Oviedo now meets Osceola, which used its defensive quickness to disrupt a young Metarie Park, Lou., Country Day team in a 56-42 victory. The other side of that Gold Bracket has South Miami (10-3) meeting Powder Springs, Ga., McEachern (6-5) on Friday.
No. 2 8A Deerfield Beach (18-1) held eighth-ranked Boone (8-4) to 12-of-47 shooting from the field and beat the Braves 46-37 in a Kingdom of the Sun quarterfinal game in Ocala. Schuyler Rimmer had 13 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots for Boone, but was 5-of-19 from the floor.
Pedro Lalor hit the go-ahead 3-point shot with 22 seconds remaining on a penetrate and pitch pass from Rashawn Powell as Dr. Phillips (9-4) edged Plantation American Heritage 70-69 in the consolation bracket.