Wekiva's boys basketball team took care of a longtime playoff rival in the visiting Oviedo Lions with a 78-63 in the FHSAA Class 9A Regional Championship.
by Chris Mayer | Contributing writer
APOPKA One historic game deserves another with regard to Wekiva High School’s varsity basketball program.
On the same day the Wekiva girls played a Class 9A state semifinal at The Lakeland Center, the boys were home looking to punch their Final Four ticket.
Head coach Gersino Lubin’s talented and resilient group did just that, defeating Oviedo 78-63 in Friday’s Class 9A Region 1 Final behind senior Paul Reed’s dominant double-double consisting of a game-high 25 points and 16 rebounds.
The Mustangs (25-5) are headed to Lakeland for the first time in school history having won 14 of 15 games since Jan. 3. Wekiva’s semifinal opponent will be South Miami — the Cobras got past North Miami in their respective regional final — on Friday, March 3.
Wekiva’s previous trip to the boys regional finals came in 2013 (Class 8A) and resulted in a double-overtime loss to Hagerty.
“It’s a great day for the school,” Lubin said. “The girls made it to the Final Four, and this is our first time and we felt it was our season. (Wekiva girls head coach Tommie Butts) had a really young team and he accomplished a lot this year, and he put a lot of pressure on us because he kept winning and kept winning and we had to keep up with them. But now we’re able to go and represent the school in Lakeland and it’s an absolute blessing for us.”
Start time for the Oviedo-Wekiva contest was moved to 8 p.m. to help accommodate the Mustangs fan base coming back from Lakeland, where the Wekiva girls dropped a 52-33 decision to Miami Ferguson. And what a start it was for the Wekiva boys as they pulled ahead of the Lions by 22 points (40-18) with 3:31 left in the second quarter en route to an insurmountable 48-29 halftime lead.
The Mustangs consistently got the ball to the basket during the opening 16 minutes, not to mention building significant advantages in rebounding and scoring in the paint. Oviedo (21-8) tried to stem the tide with an extended zone defense, but Wekiva neutralized it by hitting seven 3-pointers and that included Reed’s triple with three seconds left in the second quarter.
"Now we’re able to go and represent the school in Lakeland and it’s an absolute blessing for us.”
— Gersino Lubin, coach
Lubin said he knew the Mustangs “had to get the ball inside the arc” and making 3-point shots only compounded Oviedo’s troubles. Wekiva, which had matched its point total (37) in the regional semifinals against Boone by the middle of the second quarter, frustrated Oviedo with 18 two-point baskets, nine 3-pointers and 15 made free throws.
Reed, who pulled down half of his 16 rebounds in the first quarter, perhaps enjoyed his best stretch of minutes in the third quarter when the Lions closed to within 51-42 at the 3:44 mark. The 6-foot-9 forward highlighted Wekiva’s 12-0 run ending the period with seven points, helping the Mustangs take a 63-42 lead.
“Paul was huge and he was a man offensively and defensively,” Lubin said. “(Oviedo’s Morgan Mitchell) is not an easy player to guard and to play that kind of defense was huge. And then on the offensive end to be that aggressive…that kid is a special player.”
Reed was one of four Mustangs to score in double figures. Senior Keon Morris made three triples and scored 18 points off the bench, Jeremy Johnson added 14 points and Tyrone Perry had 10.
Earl Baker Jr. paced Oviedo with 15 points, Ivan Smith scored 13 and Mitchell had 10 despite battling foul trouble.