Montverde takes aim at national title over next 5 days

National No. 1 Montverde faces difficult road swing this week

Montverde Academy (18-0) is in prime position to be Florida's first consensus high-school national boys basketball champ. That's if the Eagles can handle a road swing that has them playing in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday and in Springfield, Mass., two days later.

Montverde, ranked No. 1 by ESPN and, is in Missouri from Thursday through Saturday for the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions. The field has teams from seven states, but Montverde is a clear-cut favorite.

The next step could decide the mythical national crown. The Eagles will play Findlay Prep (21-0) of Nevada in a nationally televised (ESPNU) game at 4 p.m. Monday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield College's Blake Arena, which sits two miles away from the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Findlay is top-ranked by USA Today, just ahead of the Eagles. Neither resembles the typical high-school team, with rosters stocked with players from multiple states and nations. Montverde plays as an independent within the Florida High School Athletic Association. Findlay has nobody from Nevada on its roster.

The Pilots have four ESPN Top 100 seniors. Montverde counters with a deep lineup that has a top 10 player in point guard Kasey Hill (UF) and the top-rated senior center in Kentucky commit Dakari Johnson.

Hill, who missed a Saturday game because of hamstring tightness, is expected to be ready to go.

Orlando Christian Prep (12-3) will play Saints Neumann Goretti of Philadelphia on Saturday in the 25-game Hoophall event.

Have Faith

Three days after suffering its first loss to Oviedo at Orlando Christian Prep, Faith Christian returned to OCP to score a huge victory Tuesday night. The Lions (16-1) won 54-52 to deal reigning state champ OCP its first district loss in six seasons.

Senior guard Jorge Rosa had 26 points and nine rebounds, and in Faith coach Tony Medina's view, he was the best player on the floor.

OCP's last loss to a district opponent was in the 2007 playoffs against eventual state champion Pine Castle Christian. The Warriors had won 70 of 71 games vs. teams in their own classification since that game.

"The biggest thing is, we respect them, but we don't fear them," Medina said. "We are definitely up and coming in boys basketball."

Football talk

The FHSAA nears completion of its football realignment for 2013 and 2014, with Friday the deadline for schools to appeal for adjustments to the tentative district assignments rolled out in December.

One major move could keep Kissimmee Osceola, which is coming off a 13-1 state semifinal season, in Class 7A. The Kowboys initially were placed in an 8A district with Dr. Phillips, Boone, Freedom and Cypress Creek by virtue of their fall enrollment count of 2,339, above the 7A cutoff of 2,242.

The Osceola County school district has asked the FHSAA to drop Osceola and Kissimmee Gateway down and Harmony up from 6A into a 7A district that has county neighbors St. Cloud, Celebration and Kissimmee Liberty, plus Lake Nona, which sits just across the Orange County line.

East River also was placed in 7A, District 6, but the Falcons are asking to be moved either up to 8A or to a 7A district that includes Oak Ridge and Wekiva.

"Our goal is to keep our schools together for all sports, not just football," Osceola schools athletic director Ryan Adams said. "We're doing it for reduced travel, increased revenue. Nothing we're asking for is to gain athletic advantage for any particular school."


Montverde's boys basketball team is not the only unbeaten No. 1-ranked team on campus. The Eagles are 24-0-1 in boys soccer and are top-ranked nationally by Elite Soccer Report.

Also in soccer, Hagerty's girls were 21-0-1 going into a Wednesday night district tournament semifinal. The West Orange soccer boys are 10-0, and Oviedo's boys are 12-0-3, with their postseasons kicking off next week.

Extra points

East River boys basketball senior Wilfredo Rodriguez is closing in on the rarified 2,000-point club. He is up to 1,882 with his 20.2 average this season. The Falcons will host Viera on Tuesday night.

Oak Ridge (14-5) is utilizing its new gym for a King Classic Invitational this Martin Luther King weekend. There are three games Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. and four on Monday, with a Flagler Palm Coast vs. Oak Ridge finale at 7.

Oak Ridge junior Marquel Willis is about to hit the 1,000-point career mark, with 985. That has Pioneers coach Alex Jackson wondering what the school record might be. Now I'm curious. Anybody with a hint should email me.