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Tampa Hoops Classic: Orlando Olympia makes itself at home

TAMPA — If it were up to Orlando Olympia coach Mark Griseck, the Titans would accept an invitation to the Tampa Hoops Classic every year.

In this event, they've been perfect.

With a 73-63 victory Monday night in the semifinals at the Sun Dome over Gainesville, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, Olympia — No. 1 in 6A — improved to 7-0 all-time in the second-year event. The Titans will defend their 2007 title at 8:30 tonight against Chicago North Lawndale, a 53-47 winner over Cincinnati Princeton.

"I think we're a little confident here," Griseck said.

Against the Purple Hurricanes (9-2), whose only previous loss was to state power Melbourne Florida Air, Olympia (9-2) exhibited offensive balance and defensive intensity that serves teams well in the postseason.

Shooting guard Dexter Fields, an Alabama-Birmingham recruit, led the Titans with a game-high 23 points as Olympia began to pull away late in the third quarter. Sherwood Brown added 15. Guard Anthony Nwadigo scored 17 for Gainesville.

Elsewhere:

• North Lawndale (8-1), which needed overtime to beat King in the opening round, looked sharp, holding Princeton to 36 percent shooting from the field. Forward Jermaine Winfield led North Lawndale with 17 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Sibert had 16 in a losing effort. "It's a young season," North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe said. "We're starting to play a little better.

• Clearwater (10-1) advanced to the fifth-place game with a 66-60 win over Brooklyn (N.Y.) Thomas Jefferson. The Tornadoes got 17 points and 11 rebounds from junior forward Okaro White. Regan O'Rourke added 15 points. Thomas Jefferson, paced by Keith Spellman's 30 points, was 12-of-35 from the foul line.

• Berkeley Prep (8-3) won its second straight game, beating Oak Ridge (Tenn.) 73-71. Christian Reintgen led the Buccaneers with 21 points and eight rebounds. Johnathan Gray added 16 points.

• Olympia's William Green won the event's slam dunk contest. North Lawndale's Zilijan Jones was the 3-point champion.

Keswick Suncoast Classic

Tampa Prep 61, Bishop McLaughlin 28: Before Bishop McLaughlin had a chance to take a breath, the game against Tampa Prep was over as the Terrapins jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back to win the Keswick Suncoast Classic in St. Petersburg.

Jay Bowie scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds and earned Most Valuable Player honors as Tampa Prep won its third championship in a row.

"Our entire team effort and the intensity we bring to the table fuels our defense, our offense, our rebounding, you name it," Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon said.

The Terrapins' full-court pressure resulted in eight steals in the first three minutes, which Tampa Prep (13-0) turned into seven layups and one jumper.

Bishop McLaughlin (10-1) got on the board when Chris Congemi sank a layup on the break.

Chris Girandola, Times correspondent

st facts

Today's schedule

Final: Chicago North Lawndale vs. Orlando Olympia, 8:30 p.m.; third place: Cincinnati Princeton vs. Gainesville, 6:45 p.m.; fifth place: Clearwater vs. Winter Springs, 5 p.m.

Tampa Hoops Classic: Orlando Olympia makes itself at home 12/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:47pm]

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