High School Sports

Michael Akuchie leads Aquinas basketball to win

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Michael Akuchie picked Cardinal Gibbons’ vaunted 2-3 zone apart and then snuffed out any chance of a comeback by St. Thomas Aquinas’ archrival at the Hoops Exchange Southern Shootout on Saturday.

Akuchie scored a game-high 19 points, highlighted by back-to-back three-point plays with under a minute left, as the Raiders held off Gibbons 57-50 at Westminster Academy.

St. Thomas Aquinas needed Akuchie’s heroics after the Chiefs mounted a fourth quarter rally to cut the Raiders’ lead to 49-45 with 1:20 left.

“I think those two plays were big for us,” Akuchie said. “It was a back-and-forth game. We really needed to finish plays off. I felt like I owed my team. On a possession before I laid up the ball and missed. I really needed those points back.”

Eylijah Stephens and Lenny Ricca added 12 points each for the Raiders.

St. Thomas Aquinas coach Steve Strand moved Akuchie to the high post to counter Gibbons’ 2-3 zone and it paid off as the 6-8 senior forward used his height and athleticism to find teammates for open shots or duck himself into the lane for layups.

Aquinas took a 39-38 lead at the end of the third quarter and then needed all of the 10-0 run to hold off the Chiefs. Ricca hit a three-pointer, Stephens converted a three-point play and then a Todd Novacek steal led to Akuchie splitting two defenders and banking in a shot for a 49-38 lead with 5:06 left.

“Moving to the high post was the key to the game,” Akuchie said. “Gibbons has always played 2-3. If I could just get the defensive attention and let them focus on me. That was huge for us. If they don’t key on me it would have been a much different game. I’m 6-8, it’s a priority I have to start being used to playing there.”

Ricardo Jackson and 6-7 forward Gertatus Urbonavicius each led Gibbons with 15 points apiece. Highly touted senior guard Keon Scott shook off a slow start and finished with 12 points.

Gibbons answered Aquinas’ 10-0 run with its own late charge, keyed by back-to-back layups from Jackson and a tip in from 6-5 guard Juvense Dalger, who elevated above the rim to make it a four-point game with 1:20 left.

More boys’ Basketball

▪ A-Rod Basketball Classic Final — The Rock School 100, Mater Academy 71: Tournament MVP Jamari Wheeler scored 20 points to lead The Rock School (Gainesville) over Mater Academy to win the championship game of the A-Rod Basketball Classic at Columbus High School.

Doral Academy won the third place game 61-50 over Columbus.

“I take a lot of pride in this tournament,” Alex Rodriguez said. “We have had a rich history here with a lot of kids going on to play Division l and even in the NBA.”

Darren Collette

▪ Friday: Western 52, Hollywood Hills 45: HH: Jones13, Jean Baptisle 13, Chow 6, Clease 10, Prosria 3. W: Toribio 10, Mckinney 11, Louis 17, Thomas 5, Rodriguez 5, Obradovich 2, Flores 2.

Girls’ Basketball

▪ Calvary Christian Holiday Tournament: Cardinal Newman 52, Gulliver Prep 37: GP: Shannon Kunkel 14 pts; Mikayla Thomas 8 pts; Alana Pinder 10 pts; Jenna Kaplan 5 pts. Half: CN 21-19. GP 7-3.

▪ Miami High 58, Hialeah 56: MH: Whitley 1, Perez 12, J.Rodriguez 6, Scott 5, Weldon 5, Wilson 5, Ward 3, Bucknor 11, Rachel 10. H: Manhertz 8, Jones 28, Belties 10, Sweeting 2, Brown 3, Celestine 5. Rebound: Rachel 15. Assist: Weldon 3. Blocks: Bucknor 3. Three Pointers: Perez, Scott, Ward, Belties, Brown ,Manhertz

▪ SLAM 71, Somerset 13: Marta Franco 15 points; Nayelee Velasquez 13 points; Jailene Garcia 13 points.

▪ Friday: Miami Country Day School 47, South Broward 37: MCDS: C. Lewis 13, K. Marshall 14, M. Alvarez 8, D. Jackson 8, A. Berry 4. SB: R. Bell 2, N. Leaks 4, T. Ayolu 2, M. Sadaka 12, A. M’Clain 8, S. Waker 9. Three-pointers: Lewis 1, Marshall 3, Alvarez 1, Sadaka 3, Walker 1. Rebounds: Jackson 11. Assists: Lewis 7. Steals: Marshall 3, Alvarez 3, Jackson 3. Blocks: Berry 4.

▪ Friday: Calvary Christian Holiday Tournament: Gulliver Prep 53, Calvary Christian 18: GP: Kunkel 5, Thomas 9, Pinder 10, Haymore 10, Kaplan 6, Boyd 2, Berman 11. Half: GP 25-12.

Boys’ Soccer

▪ Gulliver 3, Key West 1: Truman Gelnovatch 1 goal; Santiago Burgos, Gabriel Babtista 1 goal 1 assist. Gulliver 9-0-1.

▪ Friday: Cardinal Gibbons 2, Northeast 0: Daton Montiel goal, assist; Leon Useche goal; Eddie Catapano assist. CG 6-2-1.

▪ Friday: University School 11, Boca Raton-Pope John Paul 3: Jared Plotka 3 goals. UNIV 7-1-2.

Girls’ Soccer

▪ Cardinal Gibbons 0, Vero Beach 0: Gibbons 10-2-2.

▪ Mourning 5, Hialeah Miami Lakes 0: Alessia Pous, 2 goals; Elvimar Alvarez, Chiara Calcagno, goals; Allison Wax, 1 goal, 1 assist; Brenda. Brooks, 1 assist. Mourning 5-6.

Football

LATE FRIDAY

ST. THOMAS AQU. 45,

TAMPA PLANT 6

Plant

STA

First downs

9

21

Rushes-yards

31-109

26-147

Passing yards

109

325

Passes

11-26-2

18-31-1

Punts

4-38

2-23

Fumbles-lost

2-0

0-0

Penalties-yards

9-75

7-68

Field goals-att

0-0

1-1

Plant

0

6

0

0--6

St. Thomas Aq.

14

17

14

0--45

SCORING SUMMARY

STA-Harley 24 pass from Allen (Salani kick)

STA-Palmer 28 pass from Allen (Salani kick)

STA-Epstein 1 run (Salani kick)

PLA-Frantzen 1 run (kick blocked)

STA-FG Salani 22

STA-Merrell 18 pass from Allen (Salani kick)

STA-Harley 10 pass from Allen (Salani kick)

STA-Harley 62 pass from Allen (Salani kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing (att-yds) -- PLA: RIce 2-2, Thompson 5-25, Franzten 24-82. STA: Carter 1-(-3), Llewellyn 1-7, Allen 3-21, Epstein 10-56, Bryan 11-66.

Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- PLA: Franzten 11-26-2, 109. STA: Fillichio 1-2-0, -4, Allen 17-29-1, 329.

Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- PLA: Douglas 1-3, Thompson 1-6, Watson 3-21, Trina 1-22, Philyer 5-57. STA: Moore 1-(-4), Moore 2-26, Epstein 1-30, Merrell 3-60, Palmer 6-80, Harley 5-133.

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