NEW PORT RICHEY — In the words of East Lake coach Joe Bloznalis, the Eagles want to be known for winning championships. With their victory in the 23rd annual William G. Hulton Jr. Ram Classic at Ridgewood on Friday night, the team is well on its way.
The lead slipped away from East Lake only once in a 56-52 win over Clearwater in the title game as the team weathered a solid defensive attack.
“I’m sure that (Clearwater) wanted the game to be in the 40s or 50s,” Bloznalis said, “but we want to be known as a good, physical, defensive halfcourt team, and I think we showed a lot of that (in this game).”
East Lake (9-4) was not happy to be ousted in the semifinal of the Shorecrest Holiday Tournament last week by Pinellas Park. The Eagles carried that motivation into the Ram Classic.
After four members of the lineup scored in double figures in the semifinal win over St. Petersburg Catholic, three achieved that mark Friday. Jeremy Mogged (14 points), Kyle Mogged (13) and Balazs Orzo (11) chipped away at the stout Clearwater defense.
“When we’re rolling, I always tell the kids that there are five kids on the court that can score,” Bloznalis said. “It’s all about getting to the rim. If we can do that, good things happen.”
Jeremy Mogged made the all-tournament team along with teammate Blake Grimm, who scored eight and grabbed five rebounds in the final.
The Tornadoes (7-4) struggled offensively in large part because they were unable take advantage in the post with Matt Misner. Misner, an all-tournament team selection, scored 25 and grabbed nine rebounds in the semifinals but was held to seven points and four boards by East Lake.
Joe Lampley (eight points, 11 rebounds) made a valiant effort to keep Clearwater in the game, but the Eagles made their free throws down the stretch to keep the game out of reach.
In the consolation final, Bradenton Southeast toppled St. Petersburg Catholic 62-57.
The Barons featured the most electrifying player in the tournament in point guard Ryan Green. The Division I football prospect averaged more than 25 points in the classic and was named to the all-tournament team.