FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy remained unbeaten by outlasting No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) to win the City of Palms Championship early in the morning on Christmas Eve. No. 18 Whitney Young (Chicago) takes third place at prestigious tournament. For Montverde Academy, the tourney victory begins a tough stretch of games that will ultimately decide its chances at a repeat mythical national title.
RELATED: City of Palms Results
Just to survive the bracket at the Culligan City of Palms Classic is a chore, but to win under the conditions the team at Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) did late Monday night was extra impressive.
The nation’s No. 1 ranked team in the Student Sports FAB 50 jumped out to an early 3-0 lead at 9:33 pm local time when the game at Bishop Verot High School (Ft. Myers, Fla.) was delayed due to condensation and slippery conditions caused by usually warm winter weather.
The game had to be moved to Fort Myers High School, about four miles away. Over an hour and a half later, the game resumed after some quick thinking and phone calls by tournament director Donnie Wilkie and some quick prep work by the Lee County County Sheriff’s Department.
After the game resumed. Montverde Academy had the most intensity and adjusted to the unusual game conditions quicker to come away with a 58-53 win over No. 9 Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.). After it was all said and done, the game ended at 12:20 am on Christmas Eve, as Montverde Academy moved to 10-0 on the year while Paul VI dropped its first game of the season.
Montverde led 26-11 after a quarter and 39-24 at halftime. Paul VI (8-1) surged a bit in the second half, even closing to within 55-53 in the closing seconds, but Montverde guards Jaylen Patterson and Justin Bibbs hit their free throws down the stretch.
Montverde junior Ben Simmons was named tournament MVP and is beginning to draw acclaim as the nation’s top 2015 prospect. A native of Australia, Simmons scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals in the win over Paul VI. He shared tourney MVP honors with Isaiah Whitehead of No. 11 Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Also named all-tournament for Montverde Academy was Bibbs and sixth man Ahmad Rorie, a 2014 guard headed to CAL.
Paul VI was led by forward and Georgetown recruit Marcus Derrickson with 14 points.
Lincoln took fifth place with a 73-57 victory over No. 5 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.). No. 18 Whitney Young (Chicago) defeated No. 16 Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.) 63-55 to take third place.
After losing its first game of the tournament to Providence by five points, No. 49 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) rebounded to win the consolation championship with a 89-83 victory over Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.). On December 26, St. John Bosco opens the VistMesa.com Basketball Challenge with No. 31 Corona Del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.). The Braves lost, 69-66, as one of the nation’s most talented teams continues to improve in the consistency department.
As for Montverde Academy, the team is entering its tough stretch of 11 games that will determine its chances to win the mythical FAB 50 national title. The Eagles will participate in the Wild Wing Café High School Hoops Classic in Charlotte, N.C. before New Year’s. After that, the Eagles take on Wheeler and St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) at the Cancer Research Classic (Wheeling, W. Va.) after the turn of the year.
As for Paul VI, it could potentially face Montverde Academy at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo. in mid-January. Last season, Paul VI handed the Eagles one of their two losses at that event.
Although Montverde Academy toughed it out at the City of Palms, it is likely going to have to dig deep again to remain unbeaten against a gauntlet of tough games coming up.