Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EASY AS A-C-D; Apaches Rout Maclay for First State Title Rings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EASY AS A-C-D; Apaches Rout Maclay for First State Title Rings

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

LAKELAND -- For three years, the Arlington Country Day boys basketball players stayed at home for the state playoffs while knowing they were among the state's elite.

On Saturday, they got their chance to prove it.

Arlington Country Day captured its first basketball state championship when the Apaches dominated Tallahassee Maclay 55-33 in the Class 2A title game at The Lakeland Center.

For the past three seasons, ACD's season ended in early February because of a three-year, Florida High School Athletic Association probation stemming from an incident following the 2001 state title game.

"I sat here four years ago and said at that time that I'd win one of these someday," ACD coach Rex Morgan said. "Well, we finally got one."

In another 20-point-plus win -- its sixth blowout in seven postseason games -- ACD (28-3) controlled the game and the tempo. An undersized Maclay (27-4) team tried to shorten the game by passing the ball until someone could shake their defender for a layup.

But ACD played an aggressive, man-to-man defense most of the game, shutting down the driving lanes to the basket. The intimidating presence of 7-foot-3 center Jason Bennett (six blocked shots) limited Maclay's opportunities.

In the third quarter, the Marauders managed just six shots, making two.

ACD had its own offensive problems. After making 11 of their 19 attempts in the first two quarters, the Apaches managed just 10 baskets in 24 tries in the second half. They committed 18 turnovers in the game.

"I said to my son [Taylor, an assistant coach] early in the game that we're playing not to lose instead of trying to win," Morgan said. "But our effort was so good defensively that we were able to overcome that.

"It's so nice to see the defensive effort because this team couldn't guard anybody in December. But they've really worked hard at improving it, and it's paid off. …

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