Back in the early 1990’s, with his David Eckstein-led baseball team remaining undefeated well into the season, the first thing Seminole High School baseball coach Mike Powers was asked after every game was, “Is this team that good?”, and Powers’ answer was almost always, yes, because how can you be a fluke if you keep beating the best teams?
The same thing has probably been happening to Lake Mary Prep’s Matt Benefiel because his Griffins seemed to come out of nowhere to win a big Holiday tournament and jump into the Class 1A State Poll at No. 3. And it probably got even worse when the team neared the 20-win plateau without a loss and most of those wins coming in blowout proportions.
Well a lot of the questions about how good this team might be have been answered as the Griffins went into Seminole High School’s Bill Fleming Memorial Gymnasium on Tuesday and came away with an impressive 79-58 victory over Arrow Force XIV and improve to 22-0 on the season.
LMP’s 6-foot-6 standout sophomore center Shamar Marston had another outstanding game, pouring in a team-high 17 points for the Griffins, which also got 14 points from junior point guard Bryan Benefiel and 13 points from senior Anthony Balsam.
Seminole got a game-high 19 points from its own sophomore standout, 6-foot-5 Danny Feliciano.
Lake Mary Prep is closing out the regular season with the strongest part of its schedule as the Griffins were to have played at Class 6A Lake Mary on Friday and then finish out with home games this week with powerful University Christian from Jacksonville today (Saturday) at 5 p.m. and Class 6A Deltona on Thursday at 7 p.m. LMP will also be hosting its own District Tournament the second week in February.
Seminole (11-9) gave the Griffin victory even more credence on Wednesday as AFXIV went on the road and took down Lake Mary (6-13), 57-47, with Boomer Hart and Bubba Carr scoring 10 points each. Woody Taylor led the Rams with 13 points, while Garrett Scott pulled down eight rebounds.
Oviedo (19-4) tuned up for its showdown with Lake Howell on Wednesday by easing past Lyman (12-10), 77-63, with Matt Stillwell dropping in a game-high 37 points and Jon Liranzo helping out with 15 more. Watson scored 21 points for the Greyhounds.
The Class 5A No. 1 Silver Hawks (18-3) continue to rough up anyone in their path as they posted two more big wins this week, trouncing Lake Brantley, 81-53, and Crooms Academy, 68-47.
Nick Calathes scored 35 points and Chandler Parsons 22 points, most with the help of 12 assists from star point guard Joey Rodriguez, who verbally committed to the University of Massachusetts this week, in the win over the Patriots, who got 24 points from their star junior, Mitch McGrath.
On Wednesday, Lake Howell coach Reggie Kohn let some of his other good players step in the spotlight as senior Alex Castillo led the way with 20 points, while sophomore Brett Chance had 16 points and junior Kyle Eittson 10 rebounds in the victory over the Panthers in Sanford. Miller led all scorers with 22 points for the hosts.
Winter Springs (13-10) continued its late season surge and made it a bad week all around for Lake Brantley (15-8) as Greg Gidus scored 18 points and Pat Ross chipped in with 11 points as the Bears topped the Patriots, 58-50. Trey Summey led Lake Brantley with 13 points.
Trinity Prep (8-12) picked up a nice win as Outerbridge had 13 points and 10 assists and Kowaleski 13 points in a 66-31 victory over Geneva School.
Things didn’t go as well for three other county squads as Father Lopez (9-11) rolled over The Master’s Academy (9-12), 52-39, despite another big game by junior Michael Batson, who had a game-high 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Junior Mike Cecchini handed out seven assists for the Eagles.
Circle Christian kept Orangewood Christian (15-5) reeling by edging the Rams, 49-47. Ryan Stephens scored 17 points, Andrew Lockhart had 13 points and eight assists and Christian Jones 12 points for OC.
Liberty (0-9) got 32 points from Daniels, but Heritage Prep (20-2) was too strong as it won, 80-62, over the Sanford quintet.