Montverde on brink of matching history
Montverde is seeking to become only the second team to win five Classic titles, matching the feat first established by Cypress Lake High School. Besides last year, Montverde also won in 2016, plus back-to-back crowns in 2012 and 2013. Those consecutive titles were the first for any teams since the Classic expanded to a 16-team national field in 1987. Montverde can equal the feat of its predecessors with a second consecutive title this year. Last December, tournament MVP Scottie Barnes – now at Florida State – led the Eagles with 15 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. In 2016, RJ Barrett – now with the NBA’s New York Knicks – scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half on his way to winning the MVP award in the 63-54 win over Memphis East. In 2013, Ben Simmons – now a star with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers – and D’Angelo Russell – now with the Minnesota Timberwolves – led the Eagles to the title over Paul VI, 58-53, in what became known as the “condensation game.” The championship game had to be moved to Fort Myers High School after hot temperatures inside Bishop Verot caused condensation to build up on the floor. Simmons averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in Montverde’s four tournament wins and shared co-MVP honors. Russell also was the star, scoring 15 points, along with Dakari Johnson (10 points), when the Eagles won the championship in 2012 with a 65-45 win over Highland (Utah) Lone Peak.
Cypress Lake collected its championships in the early years of the tournament when the City of Palms was played at Edison Community College, which is now Florida SouthWestern State College. The Panthers are the only team to win three straight crowns from 1979 through 1981. Cypress Lake also won back-to-back championships in 1983 and 1984. Then, only Southwest Florida teams were playing in the 16-team field. The Cypress Lake teams were led by legendary coach Elmer Tremont.