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Tournaments test, prepare boys’ varsity basketball team for playoffs

Sophomore Kayamo Galloway looks to move the ball in a game against Lake Brantley on Jan. 31 at the RWL gym.

Sophomore Kayamo Galloway looks to move the ball in a game against Lake Brantley on Jan. 31 at the RWL gym.

Sophomore Kayamo Galloway looks to move the ball in a game against Lake Brantley on Jan. 31 at the RWL gym.

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With the departure of longtime head coach Ed Kershner, and graduation of team leader and playmaker Ivan Smith, the Oviedo varsity boys’ basketball team has faced many challenges in continuing its winning ways. Despite the changes, Oviedo still has one of the best records in their district.

In order to prepare themselves for the playoffs, Oviedo has played in several tournaments this season. The Great Eight Tournament, hosted by Ocoee High School at the end of December, was one of them.

“It was a good experience for us,” said head coach Jason Vallery. “We had spent a lot of games at home in December, so it was nice to go on the road and compete against somebody. It was also nice to compete against somebody out of state.”

The Lions won two out of the three games they played in Ocoee. Their only loss came against a team out of Medina, Kansas.

“I felt like we did pretty good in the beginning and then [struggled] in the middle,” said senior Aryan Acevedo. “We probably should have won the tournament, but a little miscommunication in practice and in the game made us lose. [Medina] just wanted to go after us. They deemed us as a pretty good team.”

Vallery stated that the team had to change their starting lineup for the first time this season for the Medina game, and the team struggled as a result. Vallery has kept the starting lineup consistent since the loss.

Playing against a team from out of state offers the team a strategic advantage, according to Vallery. It allows the team to test new plays and concepts without the risk of revealing them to teams within the state.

“It’s harder to get the game film if you’re prepping against us come playoff time,” Vallery said. “It’s nice to try out things that nobody else in Florida or Orlando would see.”

Being able to test new plays and overcome obstacles to achieve victory adds to the value of these tournaments and makes them important in playoff preparation, according to Acevedo.

“It helped us figure out strategies for any other scenarios we might face in districts,” Acevedo said. “Based on the scenario of the game, coach comes up with plays out of nowhere and we try to implement them in the game and try to win.”

Most recently, Oviedo participated in the Vero Beach Shootout. It featured a matchup with Sebastian River in mid-January, in which the Lions escaped with a win. According to junior Braden Denny, the win did not come easy.

“We were playing pretty solid for most of the game,” Denny said. “In the beginning of the 4th quarter we struggled a little bit.”

Nonetheless, Oviedo did earn the victory, as Vallery called the game a confidence builder. Vallery sees shootouts, such as the one in Vero Beach, as especially beneficial because of the playoff-like atmosphere.

“Sometimes you have college coaches there,” Vallery said. “It’s an exposure opportunity, which is another chance to kind of brighten the lights for our kids and see if they perform well under pressure.”

The team also benefited in other ways from the shootout, such as getting a chance to see Vero Beach play. Vero is a 9A school in the same classification as Oviedo.

“[Vero Beach is] somebody we might see down the road,” Vallery said. “It was nice to not only play in their environment, in case we have to, but also get a look at them, because they were playing in the same showdown as we were.”

Denny, who played on the team last year, described this year’s tournaments as slightly less prestigious than the ones Oviedo was a part of in the 2016-2017 season, but still effective.

“We played in The Villages Tournament last year,” Denny said. “It has some of the best teams in the nation, so that is hard to compete against. These tournaments this year, however, were still quite beneficial, exposing us to a wide variety of play styles and many different competitors.”

As Oviedo looks to make a deep playoff run, they will have the Ocoee Great Eight Tournament and Vero Beach Shootout in the back of their minds, as a reminder of their success in games with a playoff atmosphere.

“Tournaments get you ready for the playoffs,” Vallery said. “It’s an opportunity to play back-to-back nights and advance forward for a championship.”


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Tournaments test, prepare boys’ varsity basketball team for playoffs