Varsity Weekly: spring sports highlights, basketball state tourney week

Four Orlando area boys volleyball teams are in the top six of the USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason rankings for the South Region.

Lake Howell, coming off a 27-3 season with standout senior setter Slater Vach and record-setting junior Tyler Windt among the returners, is No. 2 behind defending state champ Southwest Miami. They’re followed by No. 3 Horizon, No. 4 Winter Park and No. 6 Timber Creek.

Lake Howell cruised past Timber Creek by scores of 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 in a Tuesday season opener. Game 2 for the Silverhawks is at Horizon (1-0) Thursday night at 7. And both of those teams are in the upcoming 16-team Seminole Cup tournament hosted by Lake Mary and Lake Brantley. Pool play starts at 4 p.m. Friday, leading up to Saturday bracket play matches at 9 a.m. and a noon championship match at Lake Mary.

Flag football thriller

Horizon’s girls flag football team extended its unbeaten streak by beating Freedom 14-13 in five overtimes last week. Fabi Kreubel ran for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal to tie the score, and Jordan Schwenneker caught the game-winning extra point for the Hawks (6-0).

Winter Park (5-0) opened with five consecutive shutouts, including a 12-0 Tuesday win at Timber Creek (5-1).

Harmony (5-1) won 7-6 vs. previously unbeaten Celebration (4-1).

Best in basketball

Boys basketball national No. 1 Montverde Academy wrapped up a 30-0 regular season with two lopsided wins in South Carolina over the weekend. That gave Eagles coach Kevin Boyle 850 career victories.

The Eagles now get more than a month off before competing in the Chipotle High School Basketball Nationals on April 4-6 to be played in Brownsburg, an Indianapolis suburb. The tournament has a new name and new site after being played in Fort Myers last year.

Miami Columbus (25-4) is No. 2 behind Montverde in a number of national polls going into its Class 7A state semifinal against Evans (20-9) on Friday at 11 a.m. If those rankings hold up, it will mark the second time Florida teams finish 1-2 in boys basketball.

Ronnie Flores, editor of Fab 50 National Team Rankings that date to 1952, said Montverde’s 36-0 team of 2018 with R.J. Barrett and Michael Devoe finished No. 1 ahead of Nova Southeastern University School, which ran away with the FHSAA 5A state title thanks to a lineup that included Florida Mr. Basketball Vernon Carey Jr. and Scottie Barnes. Those teams met in what was then labeled the GEICO Nationals final.

Friday’s second 7A semi pits Oak Ridge (26-3) against Winter Haven (27-1) at 3 p.m.

Silverhawks spirit

The FHSAA awarded its 2024 Sunshine State Spirit Showdown award, given to the best student section spirit during games, to Lake Howell. Members of the association’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee judged video entries on the criteria of sportsmanship, participation, organization and spirit conveyed.

Baseball streak

Broward County baseball powerhouse Stoneman Douglas has won 56 games in a row and is at the doorstep of the state win streak record.

Calvary Christian of Tampa won 60 straight over three seasons before losing in a 2018 state championship game.

Douglas, ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps, has surrendered just one run going into a Thursday home game against Tampa Jesuit (3-2), which started the season at No. 6 in the MaxPreps national rankings.

In the only outcome decided by eight runs or less so far, the Eagles blanked Taravella 2-0 with sophomore lefty Gio Rios pitching a two-hitter with 18 strikeouts.

Douglas was the 7A state champion in 2022 and 2023.

Extra points

• Windermere High’s Ty Head went 4-for-4 with a single, triple and home run in the Wolverines’ 8-0 baseball win against Horizon. He had 4 RBI and 3 stolen bases.

• Robbie Mitchell struck out 11 in 5⅓ innings pitched in Oviedo’s 3-0 victory against Lyman.

• Trinity Prep’s McKenna Hawley fanned 17 in a 9-3 softball win vs. Geneva School.

• Two-sport standout Caden Harshbarger had 3 goals and 2 assists for boys lacrosse reigning state champ Lake Mary (8-0) in an 11-9 win against one of Georgia’s top programs, Lambert. Harshbarger, the Rams’ football receiving leader, committed to play lacrosse for North Carolina.

• Lake Brantley pitcher Lauren Compton went the distance in a 6-1 home softball win against Montverde (6-2). The Patriots (4-1) were 7A state runners-up in 2022 and a final-four team last season.

• Kennedy Gibson and Emma Cemoni combined to pitch eight scoreless innings for Oviedo in a 1-0 win vs. Clearwater Calvary Christian.

• Lake Minneola junior Kai Evans, the track national champion in the 400 hurdles last year, is off and running. He won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.52 seconds, the 200 at 21.58, and the 400 hurdles at 53.92 in the River City Relays Classic at the University of North Florida. Evans has won all nine individual races he has run to date.

• Olympia senior Omaria Gordon turned in a state No. 1 girls long jump mark of 19 feet, 4 inches at the Titans’ invitational last week.

Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at