APOPKA — After reaching the state final four two years ago, Edgewater slipped to 13-13 in a rocky 2015-16 season that ended with a district semifinal defeat.
The Eagles didn't take long to send a message that they will be flying far above the .500 mark this season. In its opener at the Metro vs. Florida Challenge on Wednesday, Edgewater stormed back from a 12-point first half deficit to knock off highly-regarded Orlando Christian Prep 63-61.
"That was our first real test and it feels good to get that win against a high-level team," said Eagles senior Anfernee Simons, a 6-foot-3 guard who led all players in points (23) and rebounds (11).
OCP, ranked No. 3 in the preseason Sentinel Super 16, had possession trailing by two off a timeout with 8.3 seconds remaining in a game that once seemed solidly in their grasp. But the Warriors turned the ball over vs. pressure on the way up the floor.
Edgewater's Trevon Cason was fouled immediately and made both ends of a one-and-one to seal the victory for the No. 6 team in the Super 16 .
The Eagles found themselves trailing 30-18 late in the second quarter after OCP newcomer Nassir Little displayed his skill set by hitting a 3-point shot and then poserizing two defenders with a vicious dunk.
Edgewater scored the final two baskets of the half and then made their big move after the break with Robert Allen, Jamehl Williams and Simons all making 3-point shots in a 13-3 run.
Williams, a transfer from Evans, scored 13 points and held his own on defense against Little, who scored 19.
"We're definitely happy to have Jamehl," Edgewater coach Jason Atherton said. "He's kind of been looking for his place on this team. The effort he gave tonight was tremendous."
A decisive three-point shot by Kimani Binder helped spur another comeback as No. 10 Evans came from 13 points down in the third quarter to defeat tradition-rich Bartow 54-49. Jordan Collins paced the Trojans with 16 points.
"A win like this shows we can play with anybody," said Evans coach Rob Gordon. "It was a great competitive game to grow from."
No. 4 Oak Ridge won 72-58 over Tampa Sickles 72-58 in a clash of teams with state title aspirations. Junior guard Michael Devoe had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Pioneers. Super-soph Niven Glover added 18 points.
"I liked how we competed against a good team but there is still work to be done," said first-year Oak Ridge coach O'Neil Lubin.
No. 5 Kissimmee Osceola opened with an impressive 69-49 dismantling of Dr. Phillips, which is without a big chunk of its team until the Panthers football season ends. The Kowboys overwhelmed their shorthanded opponent with a team so deep that coach Nate Alexander was able to alternate two five-player groups.
Seniors Tevin Florent and Brady Fernandes combined for 25 points for Osceola, which also got good work from its stellar sophomores, Omar Payne, Isaiah Palermo and Josh Marte.
"I liked how it looked," Alexander said of the rotation. "We can split those guys up and get them volume shots."
Daniel Love, a junior guard, scored 20 points for DP.
Junior guard K.J. Simon scored 23 points for West Orange in a 73-63 win over Lake Minneola. K'mari Doughty, a 6-5 sophomore move-in to Lake Minneola from Brooklyn, had 19 points and 8 rebounds.
Olympia 71, Lake Brantley 62
Buzz: Amajeh Green scored 25 points and Joe Milton had 11 rebounds and 8 points for Olympia. Brandon Walters had 18 points and 7 rebounds, and Rey Martinez 16 points for Brantley.
Oak Ridge 72,
Tampa Sickles 58
Buzz: Michael Devoe had 24 points and 8 rebounds for Oak Ridge. Niven Glover added 18 and 6. Bryce Workman and Marcus Cohen both scored 19 for Sickles.
Evans 54, Bartow 49
Buzz: Jordan Collins had 16 points and Ickson Mason 12 and 7 rebounds for Evans. Harvin McKinley scored 13 for Bartow.
Orlando Christian Prep 61
Buzz: Anfernee Simons led Edgewater with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Jamehl Williams added 13 points. Rondo Segu had 20 points and Nassir Little 19 and 7 rebounds for OCP.
Osceola 69, Dr. Phillips 49
Buzz: Tevin Florent had 13 points and 7 rebounds and Brady Fernandes scored 12 for balanced Osceola. Josh Chapman had 7 rebounds and and 5 assists. Daniel Love had 20 points for DP.
West Orange 73,
Lake Minneola 63
Buzz: K.J. Simon scored 23 points and Tyler Yorke. K'mari Doughty had 19 points and 8 rebounds for the Hawks.
Orangewood Christian 70,
East River 51
Buzz: Kevin Veygel scored 27 points and Christian St. Germain 21 for Orangewood, and Cole Black grabbed 11 rebounds in the win. Deshay Jackson had 17 points for East River.
Apopka 58, Winter Springs 43
Buzz: Nathan Louis had 16 points and Terence McClain 14 for the Blue Darters. Elijah Dixon contributed 9 rebounds, Maliek Jackson 5 assists. Trevion Bell had 13 points and 8 rebounds for the Bears.
Friday, Nov. 25, schedule
Colonial vs. Trinity Prep 10 a.m.
Lake Nona vs. Mount Dora Christian Academy 11:15
Ocoee vs. Lake Highland Prep 12:45
Jones vs. East Ridge 2:15
Wekiva vs. Windermere Prep 4
Boone vs. The Master's Academy 5:30
Saturday, Nov. 26, schedule
Orlando University vs. Eustis 10 a.m.
Timber Creek vs. Port Orange Spruce Creek 11:15
Freedom vs. Lakeland Kathleen 12:45
Evans vs. Poinciana 2:15
Wekiva vs. Central Florida Christian Academy 4
Apopka vs. Winter Haven 5:30
Winter Park vs. The First Academy 7
Dr. Phillips vs. Leesburg 8:30