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Notes from O-Town

1/8/2012
Lucas O'Neill/ESPNHS

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 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.”

Graham vs. Frazier

They didn’t go head to head, but the University of Florida’s future shooting guards both did their thing Saturday. First Academy’s Dillon Graham outscored Montverde Academy’s Michael Frazier, but both of the future Gators saw their teams fall.

So who gets the edge? Graham stood out more, but he’s also the only major Division I recruit on his team. Frazier, meanwhile, shares the floor with a handful of potential impact college players. Both are athletic, but Frazier seems better able to create off the dribble and has a pretty mid-range jumper. Graham’s game is hardly one-dimension, however: In addition to draining multiple 3-pointers off the catch, Graham proved that he could get to the rack when needed, throwing down a dunk in transition in the second quarter and connecting on a layup and a put-back in the fourth.

One thing is clear: Both are excellent shooters with beautiful form and a quick release. It’s not hard to imagine either — or both — thriving in Gainesville in with a pure point guard.

Price is Right

Hudson Price joined First Academy six games into the season, after his family moved from Georgia, but the son of four-time NBA All-Star Mark Price is starting to make his presence felt. The 6-foot-6 junior wing had 11 points and seven rebounds on Saturday and impressed Royals coach Bill Bufton.

“I thought Hudson Price had a really good game for us,” said Bufton. “He’s been trying to mix himself in and it’s taken a little longer. That was his best game.”

Round Robin

Want to talk about parity? After Saturday’s tourney, the following can be said about the teams involved: Hagerty has beaten Montverde Academy; Montverde has beaten Olympia, Dr. Phillips, Orlando Christian Prep and Lake Highland Prep; Lake Highland Prep has beaten Leesburg, Olympia, Dr. Phillips and OCP; Dr. Phillips has beaten First Academy and Olympia; Olympia has beaten Leesburg and First Academy; First Academy has beaten Lake Highland Prep; and OCP has beaten Leesburg.

By extension, does that mean Hagerty is the best of the bunch? I don’t think so. My first take is that the order is as follows: Montverde, Lake Highland Prep, OCP, Hagerty, Olympia, Dr. Phillips, First Academy and Leesburg. But we’ll see how the weekly state and national rankings shake out on Tuesday.

Lucas O'Neill is a senior writer for ESPNHS. Follow him on Twitter @LucasESPN.