Herald photo by Romeo Guzman _ Dexter Graham has gotten his senior season off to a great start, helping lead Oviedo to a 5-1 start.
Just when it looked like the Oviedo High boys basketball team was setting itself up as the early team to beat in the Seminole Athletic Conference, a young and talented Lake Brantley squad came to life and held off a furious Lions rally on Monday to give everyone hope again.
Last Monday (Nov. 25) at RW Lundquist Gymnasium in Oviedo, the host Lions had held off the Patriots, 83-76, behind 26 points from junior standout Matt Milon and the senior duo of Dexter Graham (23) and R.J. June (21) to offset a 23-point effort from Lake Brantley sophomore star John Mooney.
Unfortunately for Oviedo (5-1), Milon suffered a foot injury in the contest and it is not known when he will return.
His absence was evident in the first half on Monday (Dec. 2) as the host Patriots (3-4), led by Mooney, scored 53 first half points and seemed on the verge of blowing out the unbeaten Lions.
But Oviedo rallied in the second half as Graham and June dominated both ends of the floor and the guests took a 71-70 lead with four minutes left to play.
A lot of times in sports, teams relax after working so hard to get back into a game and whether that was the case or not, the hosts righted the ship in time behind the shooting of senior Nick Martin, closing the game on a 13-3 run, nine from Martin, including a huge 3-pointer with 2:15 left, as Lake Brantley prevailed, 83-74.
Mooney finished with 27 points, while Tony Lingo had 16 and Martin 14 for the Patriots, while Graham had 22 points and June 21 points for the Lions.
The 6-foot-8 Mooney, who committed to Florida before the season, has been outstanding all season, even though the team had gotten off to a slow start.
Lake Brantley opened the season with a 76-68 loss to Apopka, despite 22 points from Mooney, and then fell to a good Spruce Creek (5-0) quintet, 82-65, before defeating district rival Orange City-University, 78-57, as Lingo had 16 points and Mooney 15 points and nine rebounds.
Following the loss to Oviedo, the Patriots ran past Lyman, 74-53, as Mooney had 26 and John Becher 11, while Jorge Rodriguez paced the Greyhounds with 14.
Mooney then had a season-high 33 points to go along with nine rebounds and three blocked shots last Friday, but unfortunately it came on a night when UCF commit B.J. Taylor was having the game of his life with a 59-point outburst as Boone (2-2) thumped the locals, 100-63, in the Metro versus Florida Challenge at Wekiva High School. The senior point guard made 22-of-30 shots from the floor, 10-of-15 on 3-point shots, and five free throws.
The Lions, meanwhile, had been cruising along relatively untouched as they opened the season with a 74-37 whipping of SAC rival Lake Mary, as Graham had 29 points and Logan Strawn nine points for the Rams, and then rolled past East Ridge, 88-69, as Graham had 23 points.
Then came the contest that put Oviedo on the map as the Lions roughed up respected Oak Ridge (with four Division 1 prospects on its roster), 75-65, in the Thanks for Hoops Classic at Orlando Christian Prep with the quartet of Milon (21), Graham (18), June (17) and Quay Harper (16) doing the damage.
Oviedo then moved to 4-0 as it outscored powerful Windermere Prep, 83-79, as June tossed in a season-high 37 points, setting up the battles with Lake Brantley.
Lake Mary (3-2) bounced back from the loss to Oviedo with wins over Timber Creek, 56-47, with Devon Merthie recording 24 points and four assists, and Orange City-University, 65-33, as Jake Vandendriesche had eight points and eight rebounds and T.J. Sanford had 12 points and five assists.
The Rams then fell to Colonial, 57-47, in the Metro versus Florida Classic at Wekiva despite 11 points from Vandendriesche and 10 points from Daniel Brown, before withstanding a huge rally from Lake Howell, 62-57, on Monday as Merthie had 16 points, Sanford a double-double with 14 points and 10 steals and eight points and six rebounds from both Chris Molthrop and Joel Vandermay to offset a game-high 20-point effort from the Silver Hawks’ D.J. Brown.
Technically, Seminole has the best record in the county, as Arrow Force XXII was 2-0 heading into a Tuesday night matchup with defending state champion Hagerty.
The Tribe have been very impressive with a 70-46 thumping of Lake Howell, led by the trio of Devonte Richardson (18), Kelvin Mills (17) and Earl Williams (13), while Ben Hayden had 13 for the Silver Hawks, and 70-30 crushing of Orange City-University as Williams had 23, Taquan Lemon 12 and Mills 11.
Lake Howell did pick up an 84-73 victory over Winter Springs as Hunter Parrish had 23 points and seven rebounds and D.J. Brown added 21 points and seven assists, while Anthony Valdez had 15 points for the Bears.
Winter Springs (1-2) had opened the season with a 60-52 victory over Cornerstone Christian as Marcus Camacho had 21 points and Elijah Grooms 13 before dropping a 63-60 decision to Lyman as Rodriguez had 17 points and Meshech Floyd 14 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Greyhounds and Camacho and Akeem Laurie 13 points each for the Bears.
Lyman (1-4) has played a brutal schedule to open the season as they opened the season with a loss to powerful DeLand, 52-48, with L.J. Marvin scoring 11 points, before beating Winter Springs and then suffered losses to unbeaten Spruce Creek, 81-69, with Marvin scoring 12, Lake Brantley (see above) and Hagerty, 61-48, as Eric Castaneda had 16 for the Huskies and Marco Beasley 11 for the Greyhounds.
Hagerty has also had a limited schedule to open the season and the defending 8A Champions as also 2-0 on the season as they handed DeLand (2-2) a 55-49 setback with Nick Brizendine had 20 points and five assists and Henry Torres 12 points.
Crooms (0-2) has gotten off to a tough start with losses to Downey Christian, 85-41, and The First Academy-Leesburg, 64-24, with Daniel Lundman scoring nine points.
In Private School action:
Trinity Prep (6-1) has gotten off to a fast start winning five straight top open the season, including 64-36 over Merritt Island, with Kobe Eichelberger scoring 29 points; 56-46 over Lake Mary Prep, with Eichelberger scoring 19 points and T.J. Amalbert nine for the Saints and Hayden Moseley 16 and Brady Benefiel 12 for the Griffins; and 45-37 over Cornerstone Charter, with Eichelberger scoring 16 and Amalbert 10.
The locals then lost for the first time, 48-33, to Melbourne-Holy Trinity Episcopal, before roughing up rival The Master’s Academy, 55-27, on Monday with Roger Holler scoring 13 points and Eichelberger 12, while Mike Richards led the Eagles with 10.
TMA had opened the season with a 77-55 loss to Forest Lake Academy, despite 20 points from Kyle Delk, before whipping Calvary Christian, 63-44, as Delk had 29, and falling to Mount Dora Bible, 80-53, with Mark Scanlon scoring 19.
Lake Mary Prep suffered a tough, 81-79, setback to International Community School (3-0), which was coming off a 93-13 crushing of Altamonte Christian.
Orangewood Christian (1-1) opened the season with a 74-69 triumph over Legacy Christian as Zeriq Lolar had 27 points and Tate Morse 10 points, and then just missed a huge upset over Deltona High (3-2), 62-53 in overtime, at the Breast Cancer Awareness Classic at Oak Ridge High School, despite a game-high 21 points from Morse.