Academy at the Lakes’ turnaround season ended Saturday night 78-27 at Orlando Christian Prep in a Class 2A region final loss to a
Warriors program that’s won three state titles in the past four seasons. Orlando Christian advances to play FAMU High in Tuesday’s state semifinal.
“They were outstanding,” AATL coach Tom Haslam said of Orlando Christian. “They rank up with any team in the state. Period. Any class.”
The Warriors (25-5) pressured AATL (17-10) early and often, converting turnovers into easy fastbreaks. The Wildcats made matters worse, missing nine of their first 10 shots and struggling to defend a deep lineup.
“They’ve got everything,” Haslam said. “Their guards can go inside. Their big men can go outside and shoot. You have to guard everybody. … We’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Freshman Ethan Haslam led a balanced AATL scoring effort with six points. Jarrett Harvey and Mikey Mauger scored five points each.
Haslam said his team was disappointed about the loss but proud of its turnaround season. The Wildcats won only 11 games the past two years combined before breaking through this winter.
The coach said he never would have expected at the start of the season that his team would reach the elite eight.
“I’m sitting here on the bus, and I’m looking at the regional runnerup trophy,” Haslam said. “There aren’t many teams in our area who are going to come home with one of those. I’m extremely proud of these guys.”
AATL loses only two seniors, so Haslam said the deepest run in program history will be a building block for the Wildcats’ future.
“It hurts a little bit right now, but it’s going to help us,” Haslam said. “We see how good we need to be.”