Montverde Wins GEICO Nationals over University School

By David Cordova

Today marks the final day of the high school season on the national level. Two teams fought for a chance to be the last team team standing in the GEICO National High School Tournament at Christ the King High School, in the Middle Village section of Queens, New York.

This year’s final would be a matchup between two teams from the state of Florida.

One was Montverde Academy, the national powerhouse from Montverde, which is located 32 minutes away from Orlando, which has won three championships in the event, when it was previously known as the Dick’s Sporting Goods Nationals, from 2013-2015. They were currently rated as the No. 1 team in the USA Today poll at 34-0, coming into the game.

R.J. Barrett skies to the rim for a one-handed dunk. (Photo courtesy of Ben Shot It/Ben Berry)

The challenger would be the Nova Southeastern University School, which is located in West Palm Beach. The Sharks were winners of the Florida Class 5A state championship, and the No. 2 team in the nation with a 36-1 record coming into the game.

Both teams had at least a dozen Division I-caliber teams between them. This game would not have been played down in Florida, due to the fact that Montverde is not involved the Florida State High School Association, and play an independent schedule. However, the battle was set in New York City, as both teams, would play in front of national TV cameras for the championship gold and the bragging rights as the best team in the country.

Montverde Academy 76, University School 58

The Sharks got the early momentum, with baskets by sophomore guard Scottie Barnes (24 points & 10 rebounds) and senior guard and West Virginia commit Trey Doomes (5 points & seven rebounds), as they got out to a 4-0 lead early in the first quarter. Then moments later, junior center Balsa Koprivica (2 points and nine rebounds) & senior forward Filip Petrusev (15 points) countered with layups & a three-point play to cut the deficit to 6-5, with more than 5 minutes remaining.

The Eagles finally took the lead at 10-8, when Petrusev took a jumper off the key, with more than three minutes left in the first quarter. Later on in the quarter, senior forward and Duke commit R.J. Barrett (25 points and 15 rebounds) & senior guard and Georgia Tech commit Michael Devoe (21 points) made two layups to bring the score to 14-8, with over a minute left.

R.J. Barrett of Montverde matches up with the University School’s sophomore guard Scottie Barnes during free throws. (Photo courtesy of Ben Shot It/Ben Berry)

Montverde picked up where they left off with their scoring, as they led by seven, 21-14. However, University stayed close throughout, only trailing by five, midway through the second quarter, 24-19.

However, the Eagles moved the ball well & stayed efficient with their shots. Another thing that aided them was the fact that they were able to draw fouls against the Sharks. Their frenetic pace brought them to a 35-26 lead.

Montverde continued their attack, as they led by eleven, 46-35, with over 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Clutch three-pointers by senior guard and Florida commit Andrew Nembhard (eight points and 13 assists) brought the lead to fourteen, 51-37, with 3:43 to go. They then ended the third quarter, leading 59-44.

Montverde junior forward Balsa Koprivica throws down a one-handed dunk. (Photo courtesy of Ben Shot It/Ben Berry)

University could not contain their opponents on the boards and in the paint, as they would trail 72-48, with 3:05 in the fourth quarter. Montverde would then pull away with the win, as they would win their fourth GEICO Nationals title.

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