Olympia Gets Repeat Chance
TAMPA - When the Orlando Olympia boys basketball team learned it was playing Gainesville in the second annual McDonald's Tampa Hoops Classic semifinals on Monday night, it was hoping for a chance at redemption. During the summer, Gainesville defeated Olympia twice in scrimmages. Olympia earned its payback with a 73-63 win over the Purple Hurricanes, meaning the 2007 Hoops Classic champion will defend its crown against Chicago North Lawndale Charter, a 53-47 winner over Cincinnati Princeton, in the title game at 8:30 tonight at the USF Sun Dome. University of Alabama-Birmingham commit and senior guard Dexter Fields led Olympia with a game-high 23 points."We're excited to defend our title," Fields said. "There were a lot of competitive teams we had to get by." Olympia (9-2) led 31-28 at the half but went on an 11-1 run in the third quarter for a double-digit lead. Senior forward Anthony Nwadigo led Gainesville (9-2) with 17 points. Chicago North Lawndale (8-1) built a double-digit lead in the third quarter and sealed the game at the free-throw line in its win over Cincinnati Princeton. North Lawndale led 47-32 with 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter but allowed Princeton to close the gap to 49-43 with 1:15 left. Senior guard Zilijan Jones led North Lawndale, the third-ranked team in Illinois, with a game-high 17 points, including two free throws with 33 seconds remaining. Ohio State commit and junior guard Jordan Sibert led Princeton with 16 points. "We have really quick guards so we were able to penetrate," North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe. "We play our style of ball, which is up and down. We call it controlled chaos." Clearwater, Berkeley Prep and King were winners Monday, while Sickles fell to Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer. King moved on to meet Maryland St. Mary's Ryken in today's challenge championship at 10:30 a.m. Berkeley advanced to the consolation championship, where it plays Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer at 3:15. Clearwater faces Winter Springs in today's fifth-place championship at 5 p.m. Sickles plays Tennessee Oak Ridge in the 11th-place final at noon.
Reporter Nick Williams can be reached at (813) 259-7851.