Lions enjoy best season; Bucks Tigers move on in playoffs

Posted on 23 February 2012 by LeslieM

Zion Lutheran’s Vince Stubbs (left) goes up for two points in a game against Wellington Christian’s Charlie Brown.Photo by Gary Curreri

By Gary Curreri

While Blanche Ely and Deerfield Beach boys’ basketball teams are within one game of the state final four in their respective classes, another local team, Zion Lutheran Christian School, had a stellar season.

Zion Lutheran boys basketball coach John Guion said he couldn’t have been happier with his first year at the school. The Lions finished the season at 16-6, but suffered a first round loss in the district tournament.

“We set the bar high for the future of Zion basketball,” said Guion, who moved to South Florida from North Carolina to take over the program.

“We look to improve upon our success next season. Losing in the first round of districts was a disappointment that will fuel our hunger to get better in the off-season. I want to especially thank our administration, parents and student body for the support they gave us through the season.”

Guion moved from Charlotte, North Carolina. He has family and friends in South Florida.

“I really liked the feel of the place,” Guion said. “I knew they were coming off some rough years and that they had an Athletic Director here, Cody Loomis, who wanted to do things the right way, and turn the program in a right way.”

“I know their middle school team had also gone to nationals and had success there,” added Guion, who had four players from the middle school team playing varsity this season: Vince Stubbs, Manny Rojas, Keith Stone and Hunter Redeker. He said the team also got a stellar season from senior Bruno Mendoca who averaged 23 points a game.

“They had a good feeder program and I knew that I could develop a program here, not just a basketball team.”

Guion said the intensity of playing high school basketball and the structure of playing a varsity school was an adjustment for his young team. He said he gave them “small bites” of what to expect.

“They had never heard of a scouting report before,” said Guion, whose team ran off eight consecutive wins at one point.

“I wanted to give them time and not overwhelm them. I thought we’d come in here and, if we got them to have a .500 season, that would have been a great job. This was the most resilient group of kids I have ever been around. We still have a lot of maturing to do.

“It wasn’t important for us to win this year,” Guion added. “We just wanted to compete every night, get better at what we are doing and see the growth there. Winning wasn’t the obstacle. We just want to build the program the right way.”


Ely rallies; holds off Raiders

Benji Bell scored a game-high 24 points as host Blanche Ely (27-2) rallied for a dramatic, 56-52 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in a Class 7A regional semifinal on Tuesday night.

The Tigers, ranked No. 19 in the most recent ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50, will now travel to Atlantic for a regional final on Saturday.

“St. Thomas really outplayed us for the first three quarters,” said Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall. “We just started to pick it up and dug in during the fourth quarter and played Ely basketball … I think I aged about 10 years.”


Bucks top Cypress Bay

Marcus Owens led Deerfield Beach with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Terence Johnson added 18 points as the host Bucks held off a late charge by Cypress Bay, 64-57, to advance to its first regional final since 1999, when it won the Class 6A state championship.

The Bucks (24-4), who also received eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Janoris Jenkins, will host Spanish River on Saturday night.

Fifth-year coach Kenny Brown said his team, composed mostly of sophomores and juniors, has the ability to win state if they cut down on the turnovers and missed free throws that plagued them Tuesday night.

“They just have to settle down,” said Brown, whose starting unit has been intact for three years. “It is so hard for some reason for them to relax and we are winning. I am like, why are we rushing? Take your time, spread the floor and play basketball.”

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