OPHS vs. FIHS: Still to be a biggie

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 1/19/22

FLEMING ISLAND - Both Orange Park and Fleming Island boys basketball have been maintaining the trajectory for a monumental game on January 27 at Fleming Island High School with both teams; 16-2 and …

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OPHS vs. FIHS: Still to be a biggie

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND - Both Orange Park and Fleming Island boys basketball have been maintaining the trajectory for a monumental game on January 27 at Fleming Island High School with both teams; 16-2 and 17-1, still top-five ranked in their respective classes; Number one for Fleming Island in Class 6A, number four in Class 5A for Orange Park.

Fleming Island, despite a topsy turvy roller coaster ride of an apparent paperwork snafu that has removed dynamic point guard Bennie McDuffie from the lineup, has kept pace with a strong bench and top play from seniors Colton Zapp, Antoine Sandy and Ahman Greenidge.

Orange Park rides the wave of senior Josiah Sabino’s scoring with the power shooter coach Derek Kurnitsky’s barometer of success.

Both teams have a common loss to Andrew Jackson (15-2, 3rd in 4A); 54-50 for Raiders in a tight thriller after a snoozer first half, and 67-51 for Fleming Island in Fleming Island’s Christmas Tournament final. Orange Park did lose to Providence before Jackson with another slow first half forcing a near come-from-behind tie and possible go-ahead that fell short, 51-44.

Kurnitsky and Chandler both appreciate the value of tough schedules with the Raiders getting Oakleaf and Bartram Trail before Fleming Island and Fleming Island getting a much-improved Clay team and St. Augustine (12-5)before the Raiders visit and the Golden Eagles get a second shot at Jackson. The bonus for Fleming Island is a home match with Providence on February 4.

Fletcher (12-5) on January 5, a 52-51 win for Fleming Island, with center Demarion Valmyr having his best game with 12 points and seven rebounds somewhat neutralizing Fletcher’s 6’-6” Lajae Jones to 19 points after racking up point totals of 38 and 30 in his two previous games, was the closest non-McDuffie test for the Golden Eagles with a 62-33 win over First Coast on January 13.

Keep an eye on the David Compere/Keyshaun Riley-led Oakleaf in back-to-back clashes with both schools; Wed., Jan. 19 at Fleming Island and Fri., Jan. 21 at Orange Park. McDuffie rocked Oakleaf for 22 points in their first meeting.

Orange Park picked up a Sat., Jan. 22 game (7:30 p.m.) against 2A-North Florida Educational (11-6, wins over teams from Arizona, Texas and California) in a Duel in Duval tournament at University of North Florida.

St. Johns Country Day School’s girls basketball will also play on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against San Jose Prep (IND 12-5). San Jose Prep plays at Fleming Island (12-4) on Mon., Jan. 17 at 4 p.m.

Oakleaf (6-9) returns to the girls basketball picture after a bout of illness with a win Saturday against San Jose Prep in a holiday tournament at Bishop Snyder and a Monday game against Ribault (9-6).

At Ridgeview, coach Jerome Clyburn may have his boys amping up for some upset action in the same district as Orange Park as the Panthers got double 22s; Jayden Paz and Eddie Whipple, to take down the Clay Blue Devils. District 3-5A has Orange Park, Clay, Middleburg, and Ridgeview as well as Westside with Orange Park a clear number one, but ... rivalry is exciting.

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