by Nate Marrero | Correspondent
OCOEE After being down 46-44 at the end of the third quarter, the Ocoee Knights (10-10) outscored the East Ridge Knights (12-6) 28-10 in the fourth quarter Jan. 19 en route to their 72-56 win.
With the win, Ocoee secured the top seed in the district tournament.
“It’s not even about the win — it’s about how we won,” Ocoee head coach John “Sarge” Siers said. “Up early, down, stick together, take a five point lead, down two going into the fourth. ... We went on a 16-2 run cause we played hard and together.”
After a closely contested first half, Ocoee went into halftime up 35-30. East Ridge outscored Ocoee 16-9 in the third quarter to take a two point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams exchanged leads early in the fourth quarter before Siers called a timeout with his team clinging onto a two point lead heading into the final three minutes and seven seconds of the game.
What followed that timeout was a well-executed out-of-bounds play that led to a layup from Eisley Porter, plus a foul. Porter would make the free throw to put Ocoee up 59-54 with 3:05 left in the game.
“We were up two at the time and we had just taken a bad shot,” Siers stated. “I said listen, it’s going to be there — and they jumped on Angelo (Fort), Eisley just waited, rolled right down the lane, got it, got fouled and made it”
Following the crucial layup from Porter, Ocoee got pivotal stops on defense to go along with clutch shots down the stretch from Angelo Fort and Wade Duffus helped lead Ocoee to a 13-2 run to close out the game.
Porter led Ocoee with 19 points and Angelo Fort added on 12 points.
With the win, Ocoee clinches the number one seed for their district tournament—a first for the program.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s history,” said Siers. “It’s the first time these guys have ever made history.”
The Knights will be back in action on Jan. 24 as they go on the road to take on the West Orange Warriors (12-6), in a rematch of their 87-81 loss at home on Jan. 5
Nate Marrero is a senior at Ocoee High School and an aspiring sports journalist.