The Rock topples top team in state

Published: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 12:00 a.m.

Friday’s basketball game at The Rock would have been a great college hoops contest, if it weren’t for the fact that most of the players are still in high school.

The Lions overcame a seemingly cursed fourth quarter with a Scottie Wilbekin jumper with 5.4 seconds left to defeat Montverde 42-40.

The Rock coach Svend Wilbekin told his team all week that it was going to take toughness to defeat the Eagles,’s No. 1 ranked team in the state. His players left the court with the bruises to prove him right.

The Rock (17-3) responded to a 9-0 Montverde run with an 18-6 surge that went into the second half and extended the Lions’ lead to a game-high 10 points, 29-19.

The Eagles (17-5) trimmed the deficit to seven heading into the fourth, when everything started to go wrong for the Lions.

Scottie Wilbekin’s fast break layup was swatted from behind by 6-7 junior Justin Jackson. Jackson blazed down the court to catch a missed shot in mid-air and throw it down for a dunk to make it a 37-34 game. Jackson (six points) would use another slam moments later to bring his team to within one.

On the ensuing play, The Rock’s Vlad Kondratyev (12 points) was elbowed in the left eye, swelling it nearly shut and turning it as purple as the Eagles’ shorts.

“It just made me madder and want to fight harder,” Kondratyev said.

Wilbekin missed three free throw attempts, and later slipped into a travelling call on an inbounds play. With 3:17 to play, Montverde took a 38-37 lead.

A Patrick Konan (12 points) 3-point shot for The Lions reclaimed a 40-38 edge and gave the team its first points of the quarter with 3:00 to play.

After several defensive stands, Montverde tied the game at 40 when Villanova commit James Bell tipped in a missed shot with 17.2 seconds left.

Wilbekin, who missed a buzzer-beater that would have tied Montverde last season, didn’t miss this time. The sophomore point guard dribbled the ball the length of the court, stopped on a dime 12-feet from the hoop and dropped a shot that sent the team and its fans into a frenzy and gave the Lions just their second basket of the quarter.

“I didn’t want anyone calling a timeout to set up a play,” said Wilbekin, who finished with a game-high 14 points. “I wasn’t thinking about (the rest of the quarter). I couldn’t hear the fans or anyone. I just wanted to get that shot off.”

The smaller Rock team successfully shut down a Division-I-bound duo of Montverde big men. Auburn commit, and 6-9 forward, Rob Chubb finished with six points. Seven-foot center, and Arizona State verbal, Ruslan Pateev finished with two points.

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