Class 2A: Grandview Prep Advances to Title Game
Tue. February 26, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. | By Aimee Sachs
North Florida Educational'S Malik Carter shoots over Grandview Prep's Eric Mance on Tuesday afternoon at The Lakeland Center during the Class 2A semifinals. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER)
By AIMEE SACHS
LAKELAND | A woman approached the Boca Raton Grandview Prep basketball team in a hotel lobby on Tuesday morning and asked them where they were going. With the Pride decked out in their travel suits, they explained to her that they were on their way to The Lakeland Center to play in the FHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.
“The Baltimore Ravens got it done,” she said.
“Well, we don’t have Ray Lewis,” a parent replied.
“Well, that’s my son,” she said.
So in a chance meeting, Sunseria “Buffy” Smith called her son, the newly retired, two-time Super Bowl champion linebacker for the Ravens -- a Polk County native and Kathleen High graduate -- and put him on speakerphone. On the spot, Lewis gave Grandview one of his famous pep talks.
Hours later, Grandview perfectly executed its zone defense and made 10 of 22 shots from 3-point range to beat North Florida Educational Institute 63-49 in the Class 2A state semifinals.
“As a coach, I couldn’t ask for a better way to get our kids motivated,” Grandview coach Joe Dawson said of Lewis’ speech. “They hear me 365 days a year, but to hear a Hall of Famer, a guy like that talk to our kids was really something special.”
FIU-bound guard Ivan Canete led Grandview with 19 points and 13 rebounds, Eric Mance had 14 points and five rebounds and Sean Walsh added 11 for the Pride.
But the biggest key for Grandview was executing its zone defense and holding North Florida Educational, a team with no player shorter than 6 feet 2, to 30 percent shooting from the floor.
“We felt that we could just not let them score easy baskets underneath,” Dawson said. “We wanted to make them score from 18 to 20 feet out and just control the paint. And I thought that’s what we did.”
However, Terrell Miller, the 6-foot-8 center for North Florida Educational, scored a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Eagles on 6-of-19 shooting, drawing contact and converting 8 of 11 free throws.
After tying the game 6-6 in the first quarter, Grandview went on a 13-3 run in the last 4:53 of the frame, giving the Pride a 19-9 lead.
“I wasn’t expecting it, for them to come out and score like that,” Miller said of Grandview.
The Eagles went on a brief run in the second quarter, cutting Grandview’s lead to 26-19 on a Miller basket with 3:53 left in the half. But Grandview quickly took back the momentum and closed the half on an 8-4 run, punctuated by Walsh’s 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, giving the Pride a 34-23 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half, in which Grandview shot 40 percent from beyond the arc.
“They hit a lot of shots,” North Florida Educational coach David Wilson said. “We didn’t make a lot of shots. I think that was our biggest thing.”
While North Florida Educational made its first trip to state in only the program’s second year, this is the seventh straight Final Four appearance for Grandview. The Pride is yet to win a state championship, something the seniors are hoping to change.
“I never really understood the meaning of going to state,” Mance said of his previous three trips to Lakeland.
But Grandview will have to stop Orlando Christian at 8:05 Wednesday night, a team that has defeated the Pride at The Lakeland Center as recently as 2010 in the Class 1A state semifinals.
“To finally win it and get Grandview its first state championship would be awesome for us,” Canete said.
Could another pep talk from Lewis be in order?
“We’re going to try to get him on the line again,” Dawson said.
N. FLA. EDUCATIONAL (49): Eric Cobb 2-3 0-0 4, Terrell Miller 6-19 8-11 21, Deangelo Stephen-Bell 4-13 0-0 10, Malik Carter 2-9 2-2 6, Sammie Battle 1-6 0-0 3, Isaiah Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Virgil Davis 1-2 0-0 3, Austin Moore 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-55 10-13 49.
GRANDVIEW PREP (63): Sean Walsh 4-10 0-0 11, Alex Jones 2-3 0-0 6, Ivan Canete 8-19 2-3 19, Juwan Frazier 1-1 0-1 3, Eric Mance 4-8 3-5 14, Jalen Newsome 1-1 0-0 2, Chase Peters 0-0 0-0 0, Davie Glinton 0-1 0-0 0, Jake Westerfield 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Schner 0- 0-0 0, Evan Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Windale Glinton 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 23-47 7-11 63.
N. Fla. Educational 9 14 8 18 -- 49
Grandview Prep 19 15 10 19 -- 63
3-point FGs: NFEI 5-19 (Cobb 0-1, Miller 1-5, Stephen-Bell 2-6, Carter 0-1, Battle 1-4, Davis 1-1); GP 10-22 (Walsh 3-8, Jones 2-3, Canete 1-3, Frazier 1-1, Mance 3-7). Rebounds: NFEI 37 (Miller 14), GP 27 (Canete 13). Assists: NFEI 11 (Stephen-Bell 3), GP 13 (Canete 5). Records: NFEI 24-7, GP 29-2.