Raider hoops rolling through Christmas cheer

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TRENTON - The Orange Park High girls basketball team rolled to its fifth straight win on Saturday with back-to-back wins over defending Class 1A champion Trenton High in the SAMCO Holiday Tournament hosted by Trenton.

"I got them ready to finish here, then travel tomorrow morning and play one of the best programs in the state," said Orange Park coach Fred Cole after his team beat Atlantic Coast on Thursday prior to traveling to the SAMCO tournament in Trenton. "It will test their resiliency."

Over at the Clay High Christmas tournament, the Orange Park boys are set to play in the championship game on Mon., Dec. 23 with their own win streak; a six gamer featuring just one home contest. The Raiders had a blowout win over Christ's Church Academy, 84-41, in their Clay tournament opener before dispatching of previously unbeaten (7-1) Seacoast Christian Academy 43-41 in the tournament semifinal. Orange Park will face Hawthorne, a region 1A finalist last year, in the tournament final on Monday.

"We got hot after Bolles," said Orange Park coach Derek Kurnitsky before taking on the Clay tournament. "Kadin Elmore came back and added a spark with his shooting."

Elmore, a shooting point guard, came into the lineup late for Kurnitsky, but has since added point totals of 36 and 26 points to add to the fast-striking Raider offense.

Orange Park's Lady Raiders, still without ace guard Yoly Rosado due to knee surgery, has responded to back-to-back losses to unbeaten University Christian and Bishop Kenny (8-5), with a string of wins including Bradford (53-29), Atlantic Coast (51-26), Trenton (57-41), Lafayette (51-35) and Trenton a second time in two days (50-45). The Trenton-Lafayette-Trenton trifecta was at the SAMCO Tournament. Lafayette is a Class 1A region finalist; losing to Hawthorne.

Getting hot for the Lady Raiders roster has been Nia Brown who hit for 16 points in the first Trenton win with teammate Macie Faucett adding 13.

Against Atlantic Coast, Faucett was top scorer with 13 with Brown adding 12.

For the Raiders (8-1), who lost a December 6 home game to Bolles, 59-40, the answer has been a streak of wins including Fletcher (72-58), Trinity Christian (59-38, at the RaiderDome), Malone (64-40), Jefferson County (78-52), Christ's Church Academy (84-41) and Seacoast (43-41).

Against Christ's Church, the Raiders featured five slam dunks in the first half; with Jeremy Monterola and Josiah Sabino entertaining the crowd.

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