Lake Highland's Joel Berry, a 2-time All-Central Florida boys basketball Player of the Year, is first class, on and off the court. (Joshua C. Cruey, Orlando Sentinel) (June 7, 2013)
Faith Christian staggered No. 1 ranked Class 2A Orlando Christian Prep with body shots, building a nine-point fourth quarter lead on Friday night. But the Lions couldn’t land the knockout punch as OCP (25-1) rallied for a 69-66 victory in the District 5 championship game at Faith.
Lions center Greg Zuppas powered his way to 21 points and 16 rebounds and spurred his team into its lead when he converted a 3-point play and scored again off an entry pass from Keontay Maxwell.
Kenny Leger hit a contested 3-point shot to make it 61-52 for third-ranked Faith (20-4).
But OCP answered with a 15-3 run and closed the game out with Mike Tolbert, Dmitri Thompson, Brandon Maxwell and Adonys Henriquez combining to hit 12 consecutive free throws down the stretch. An off-balance 3-point by Maxwell, who led the Warriors with 22 points, was huge.
“We had the No. 1 team on the ropes. We have to be able to put them away and we didn’t,” Faith coach Tony Medina said. "A couple of bad basketball decisions on our part turned the game against us. That's a credit to OCP. They don't quit."
The win means OCP will host a region semifinal rematch if both teams win Thursday. OCP will be home for its quarterfinal next week while Faith travels.
"No disrepect to anybody we’re going to play, but I told Tony I’m sure we’ll see them again in 11 days,” Warriors coach Reggie Kohn said.
--- Buddy Collings
Berry leads Lake Highland
District 7 player of the year Joel Berry scored 31 points, including 6-of-7 3-point shots, to lead Lake Highland Prep to an 81-64 win over Port Orange Atlantic for the 4A-7 title at Trinity Prep.
Jaren Lewis added 16 points and four blocked shots and Jay Henderson added 15 points for the Highlanders (23-4), ranked No. 5 in the Super
16 and No. 1 in Class 4A.
Justin Vallejo came back after missing the semifinal round due to an ankle injury to score 23 points for Atlantic (21-8).
Lake Highland led 45-24 at halftime.
LHP coach Jason Vallery was named District 7 Coach of the Year.
--- Bill Gronvold
Elsewhere on Friday:
Evans (22-5) beat Olympia 66-55 to win the 8A-3 final at West Orange. The Trojans, top-ranked in the FABC/SourceHoops 8A state rankings, will host Cypress Creek next Thursday.
Towson signee Eddie Keith had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Edgewater (20-7) to a 61-50 win at Palm Bay Heritage (14-13) in the 6A-5 final.
Ninth grader Chaundee Brown scored 21 points as Dr. Phillips (19-8) rolled to an 85-48 win over Cypress Creek (2-22) to win the 8A-4 championship game. Jonathan Laurent added 17 points and 10 rebounds and David Stephen delivered 11 assists in the win.
Third-year Lake Minneola won its first postseason championship with a 58-55 win at Ocala Vanguard (18-9) for the 6A-6 title. “It’s just a great feeling to see all the hard work that they put in,” said Hawks (24-3) coach Freddie Cole. “They finally have something to show for it.”
The two top seeds, Kissimmee rivals Osceola (19-7) and Gateway (19-8) will meet on Saturday night for the 7A-5 title at St. Cloud after both posted wins on Friday. Osceola won 78-64 over Lake Nona (14-12) with Cortez Edwards filling the stat sheet with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. Gateway won 72-65 over Celebration (17-9) as Felix Gonzalez poured in 29 points.
Johnny Worthy scored all of his game-high 27 points in the second half as host Mount Dora (13-14) upset top seed Eustis 63-61 in the 5A-13 final. That keeps the Panthers (20-7) on the road for regional play.
As expected, First Academy (19-6) and Windermere Prep (19-7) will square off for the 3A-6 title on Saturday night in the Lakers gym. The Royals got 32 points from junior Fletcher Magee and rolled to a 79-51 win over Orangewood Christian (15-10). Windermere won 81-44 over Cornerstone Charter with Mike Stones scoring 22 points and 6-11 center David Ndaiye adding 21.
Lamar Smith scored 20 points and Mount Dora Bible (21-6) scored a 54-34 homecourt win over top seed Daytona Beach Father Lopez (17-10) to take the 3A-5 crown.
Top seed First Academy-Leesburg (19-1) trailed Gainesville Cornerstone Christian (8-11) of by 13 at the end of the third quarter but stormed back to win 80-79 in a 2A-3 semifinal in Gainesville. Trent Scarbrough was 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the final period for the Lions, who will meet Ocala St. John in Saturday’s final.
Top seed Port Orange Spruce Creek (22-7) pulled out a 50-47 win over Hagerty (15-15) and host DeLand (19-8) topped Lake Mary 45-43 in the 8A-2 semifinals. The final is Saturday at 7 p.m. at DeLand.
Caleb Stover poured in 30 points for Agape Christian in an 80-25 win over Deltona Trinity in 2A-4. The Saints will play for the title on Saturday night against host Foundation Academy (19-7), which won 68-52 over Ormond Calvary.
Here is Saturday's slate of district finals involving area teams (all 7 p.m.):
Class 8A, District 2
DeLand vs. Spruce Creek
Class 7A, District 5
At St. Cloud
Osceola vs. Gateway
Class 6A, District 5
At Daytona Beach Mainland
Deltona vs. Mainland
Class 3A, District6
At Windermere Prep
First Academy vs. Windermere Prep
Class 2A, District 3
At The Rock School, Gainesville
First Academy-Leesburg vs. Ocala St. John
Class 2A, District 4
At Foundation Academy
Foundation vs. Agape Christian
Buddy Collings is a senior sports writer covering high schools for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.