High-SchoolFlorida: Derek Reese

Notes from O-Town

January, 8, 2012
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Hill take3Lucas O'Neill/ESPNHSMontverde Academy guard Kasey Hill prepares to shoot a free throw in Orlando on Saturday as teammate Michael Frazier and Hagerty's Ira Smith look on.
Saturday’s Showdown in O-Town at Orlando Christian Prep featured eight of the state’s top hoop teams and three squads (Montverde Academy, Lake Highland Prep and Orlando Christian Prep) that entered the day ranked nationally in the POWERADE FAB 50.

So after four exciting games, what did we learn?

Montverde can be beat, Hagerty can ball

By far the biggest story coming out of Orlando was Hagerty’s 59-50 upset of Montverde Academy. On paper the matchup was a gimme — Montverde (13-2) came in ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 9 in the nation, while Hagerty (10-3) was a bubble top 25 team in the state. But Orlando Christian Prep coach Reggie Kohn told me before the tournament he had a feeling his brother Josh’s team would put a scare into the Eagles. He wasn’t the only one who believed.

“I knew we were good enough to beat them,” said Josh, the Hagerty head coach. “Does that mean we would? Chances were probably not as high as most teams.

“I knew we were good enough, I really believed that, and I know our guys believed they were good enough to beat them. Now putting it together? Well, we put the right 32 minutes together, that’s for sure.”

Hagerty’s win was no fluke. It’s a balanced team (five players scored in double digits) that features a handful of future college players. Now at full strength, the team has won six straight.

“I’ve been telling people all year, Hagerty scares me to death,” said Olympia coach Mark Griseck. “They’re in our region and if we’re lucky enough to get to them… You know you can’t sleep on them — the way they play and how well they shoot it and the way they play together.”

Montverde will rebound. It’s a loaded roster led by a legendary coach. While the performance was lackluster, it wasn’t for lack of effort — junior guard Kasey Hill hit the floor on more than one occasion diving after loose balls, while Florida-bound senior Michael Frazier mixed it up down low. But once they got down early, the Eagles seemed to be pressing, leading to turnovers and forced shots. Hagerty, by contrast, hit all of its big shots and seemed the more composed team.

Berry tall
Lucas O'Neill/ESPNHSLake Highland Prep's Joel Berry walks to the backcourt as a teammate takes a free throw Saturday in Orlando.
Berry vs. Powell

Two of the state’s top guards went head-to-head when junior RaShawn Powell’s Dr. Phillips team faced off against sophomore Joel Berry and Lake Highland Prep. Berry got the better of the matchup, scoring 26 points in a 50-48 win, but Powell kept his team in it late, scoring nine points in the second half and getting to the line repeatedly in the second half.

It was a good comeback win for LHP, which had fallen to First Academy 56-55 on Friday.

Olympia’s Got Talent

Tulane-bound Marc-Eddy Norelia of Olympia had perhaps the game’s two most impressive dunks in the Titans’ 77-73 win over First Academy. He showed incredible bounce and good baseline. While he was the team’s best player in the first half, he struggled somewhat in the second, missing two free throws that could have given the Titans some more breathing room late.

Teammate Derek Reese, conversely, was quiet in the first half but came alive in the second. The Tennesee signee Reese had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, with several key rebounds and high-pressure free throws in the final frame.

While the Royals closed it to a one-possession game with under 10 seconds after trailing by nine in the fourth quarter, the Titans held on for the win. After losing by three points each to Lake Highland Prep and Evans in the previous 10 days, it was a good sign that Olympia can prevail in close games.

“That’s two nights in a row that we’ve done it,” said Titans coach Mark Griseck. “We did a similar thing last night against West Orange. For two nights in a row we made plays to win the game, and I feel like we’ve grown a little bit for that.”

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Montverde Academy tops Florida preseason hoop rankings

October, 19, 2011
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The pros may be locked out, but the preps are ready to ball. With hoops season fast approaching, we present the preseason Florida basketball rankings. Montverde Academy and Arlington Country Day are the state's two top squads — no surprise there — and both are ranked in the top 25 nationally in the POWERADE FAB 50. Dwyer, with its UNC-bound big man Joel James, is the top-ranked public school at No. 4.

The top five look like this:
1. Montverde Academy
2. Arlington Country Day
3. Orlando Christian Prep
4. Dwyer
5. Dr. Phillips

To see the full POWERADE Florida Weekly Rankings, including capsules on the top 25 teams in the state, click here.

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