- Ocala, FL. Written by Kyrin Mayfield
The Forest High Wildcats versus the Mount Dora Hurricanes rounded out the six-game Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Classic, on Monday.
The Wildcats came in on a five-game winning streak, while the hurricanes were coming off a 38-point loss to The Villages Charter School. Forest head coach Spencer Ashley didn’t know what to expect from Mount Dora, but had nothing but praise for the Hurricanes.
“I’ve talked to some other coaches and they’ve told me that they play really, really hard," Ashley said. "They’re well coached--a bunch of guys that care about winning. Their record might not reflect that, but I’m sure Coach Betancourt is going to have their group ready. It should be a fun matchup.”
On the other hand, Mount Dora head coach Ariel Betancourt was expecting another high-scoring night from a Wildcats team that was averaging over 65 points-per-game in their last five games.
“We’re going to try to slow them down with our press. We’ll run some zone and make sure we get back on defense," Betancourt said.
The start of the game didn’t go according to Coach Betancourt’s plan, however.
Forest jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Mount Dora came right back with a 14-4 run highlighted by a no-look pass in the paint by Chris Melady which led to an easy lay-up. The Hurricanes led 14-10, but the lead was short lived as Forest went on a 10-0 run to close out the quarter. The Wildcats led 20-16 with Triton Tennyson putting up nine in the first quarter.
Mount Dora’s Graceson Burke began the scoring in the second quarter with a cross-over at the top of the key. The move led to an open lane for him to drive to the basket and roll the ball in off his fingertips.
Forest’s lead grew as Holden Brannon made the first three-point shot of the game for either team to put the Wildcats up 38-31 halfway through the game. Tennyson and Zay Christie combined for 20 points in the half for Forest.
Both teams came out of the locker room with hot hands as they combined to score eight points in the first 40 seconds of the third quarter. Forest went on a 10-2 run shortly after, and scored 28 points in the quarter, thanks to 15 from Jake Charske. The Wildcats led 66-44 with one quarter left to play.
Down by 22, Mount Dora needed to eat away at the deficit quickly, and they did just that.
They went on an 11-2 run to close the gap down to 12. A beautiful passing sequence happened during a Mount Dora possession when K’Von Ragin passed the ball to Burke who, all in one motion, caught the ball with one hand, jerked his arm back from the impact, and then rifled the ball to David Nix standing under the basket, and laid it in.
However, Forest was able to hold the charge off and won the game 75-60.
Another high-scoring affair for the Wildcats, who were led by 18 points from Christie and 17 from Charske. They had five players score in double figures. Mount Dora was led by Terrin Lawson who had 10 points, respectively.
Next up for district-leading Forest (15-3) is a highly-anticipated matchup with the second-place Gainesville Hurricanes on Tuesday. Mount Dora (5-12) is also in action on Tuesday against the South Sumter Raiders.