Boys basketball: Orlando Dr. Phillips 59, Wharton 55
CLEARWATER — A flash of fireworks late in Saturday's finale of the Spectrum Sports Shootout at Clearwater High School could have long-range impact on two of the state's better teams.
With 47.2 seconds left to play, away from a traveling call against Orlando Dr. Phillips, Jordan Poventud of the Panthers and Wharton's Darin Green Jr. were involved in a skirmish that saw the two sophomores wrestle each other to the court. The scrum was quickly broken up before other players could get involved.
Poventud and Green were issued flagrant technicals and ejected from the game while Dr. Phillips saw two bench players and an assistant coach get T'd up for coming onto the court.
With the possibility for lengthy suspensions, maybe stretching into the playoffs, for the two starters now in the Florida High School Athletic Association's hands via a report filed by the officiating crew, the incident takes the shine off both a solid Wharton comeback and a 59-55 Dr. Phillips victory.
Trailing by six, the Wildcats (8-2) broke out a lethal fast-break attack in the third quarter to ignite a moribund offense. Led by Reggie Jennings (team-high 12 points, six offensive rebounds) and Ronaldo Williams (nine points, seven rebounds), Wharton came within two missed free throws of taking the lead midway through the third quarter.
Free throw woes affected the 'Cats again when it counted most. Trailing the Panthers (12-5) 57-51 when the fight broke out, the Wildcats drew eight free throws but only connected on four to close within a pair. Then Wharton couldn't capitalize on Dr. Phillips' charity stripe misses as junior Daniel Love (game-high 18 points, six boards) pulled in two clutch offensive rebounds that did the Wildcats in.
"We definitely did a better job in the second half," said Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli. "Dr. Phillips was more aggressive in the first half, but we definitely did a better job executing in the second. We played together better and responded well."
Host Clearwater was outrebounded by Apopka early and outdefended in a crushing late first-half 11-1 run that eventually led to a 67-47 Blue Darters victory.
Sophomore Nathan Louis (14 points, 10 rebounds) owned the glass for Apopka (11-4) while Jai Clark (13 points) led a surge that built a 35-13 halftime advantage. Rodney Lubin also had 14 for the victors.
Joel Alfred (15 points) went 5-for-7 on 3-pointers in the second half to draw Clearwater (4-9) within 13 in the third quarter but the Tornadoes could get no closer.
Letrell Randall was 4-of-6 on 3s in the second half, finishing with 12 for Clearwater.