The MLK Day Classic at Forest High School went off without a hitch. For 11 hours on Saturday, high school basketball teams challenged each other on the hardwood.
Saturday was filled with games that came down to the final possession. Three points or fewer decided four of the seven games. There was even an instant classic that spectators will talk about for years as the stars of the game move on to the collegiate level.
Let’s breakdown each game from what Forest head coach Matt Hoffman considers one of the most competitive fields the event has ever hosted.
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Lake Highlands Prep 55, Buchholz 53
Both teams ran their systems with precision. When one team made a play, the other followed. Kellan Lewis and Julian Clarke stepped up on the defensive end to put the game away.
Lake Highlands top dog was Josh Perry who finished with 12 points. Big man Cornelius White, who had a game-high 16 point, led the Bobcats.
Wiregrass 75, West Port 38
Wiregrass’s athleticism helped it jump out to a lead West Port couldn’t recover from. Defensive lapses and a cold night from the field hampered the Wolf Pack’s chances of a comeback.
“Defense, if we don’t stop anybody from scoring we won’t win very many games,” West Port interim head coach Dewayne Murry said.
The majority of West Port’s offense came from sophomore Giovanni Wright, who finished with a game-high 15 points. Wiregrass’s top scorer was sophomore Jordan Roque, who scored 12 points.
North Marion 42, Osceola 41
Freshman Jerdarrius Jackson soared for an offensive rebound and was fouled on a put-back attempt. With time expiring, he knocked down one of two free throws to push North Marion past Osceola and stopped its comeback attempt. Six Colts scored with Sammie Yeanay sitting out large portions of the game with foul trouble.
Elija Walton led North Marion with 10 points, including four straight points that put the Colts in the driver’s seat. The Kowboys were led by sophomore Alexander Springs, who ended his night with a game-high 12 points.
CFCA 52, Columbia 50
Columbia and Central Florida Christian Academy battled back and forth all game. Neither team led by more than eight points. When the final buzzer sounded, it was the pairing of junior Yamare Bell’s clutch free throw shooting and senior Jaidyn Breville’s last-second steal that sealed the game.
Isaac Broxey scored 25 for Columbia. Breville finished with a team-high 18 for CFCA.
Santa Fe 72, Vanguard 55
The Knights struggled to find a scoring rhythm against the visiting Raiders. Deontrell Jenkins led Santa Fe to victory with a dazzling display of passing and tough shot making.
“We missed a ton of layups. They fought hard but we have to make the easy shot when we have them,” Vanguard head coach Todd Davis said.
Santa Fe’s Braylon Guylen led all scorers with 17 as he found the bottom of the net four times when shooting from behind the arc. Cameron Powell led Vanguard in scoring as the tough guard converted offensive rebounds into points.
Victory Christian Academy 84, Tampa Catholic 81OT
Victory Christian’s Lorenzo Cason and Tampa Catholic’s Karter Knox lived up to the hype in the best game of the day. The teams needed overtime to settle their bout. Junior Mike Andino iced the game at the free-throw line for the Storm to cap off his 17-point performance.
Knox showcased his Power 5 starting talent by scoring a game-high 38 points in the loss. Cason continues to raise his recruiting stock with 32 points, 8 assists and four steals.
P.K. Yonge 58, Forest 49
Without Tae Floyd, who was on a visit to Jacksonville State, the Wildcats were beat on the boards. The second-chance opportunities piled up for the Blue Wave and they capitalized for a double-digit victory.
“We just aren’t playing well right now. It’s been that way for a couple games, actually probably a couple weeks,” Forest head coach Mike Hoffman said. “We’re working hard, we’re trying hard, but shots just aren’t falling. Not getting good enough looks and we’re not playing hard enough defensively to overcome that.”
Karsen Steinbarger led the Wildcats with a game-high 15 points on five 3-point field goals. Moses Horne led the Blue Wave with 14 points.