FORT MYERS, Fla. When it comes to Montverde Academy at the Culligan City of Palms Classic, history has a habit of repeating itself.
It did yet again on Monday night as Montverde (Fla.) overwhelmed Trinity 52-42 in a semifinal game at Bishop Verot to earn a trip to the Classic championship game.
Ben Simmons, who is the No.1 senior in the country according to Hoop Scoop, scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help get the Eagles their 12th consecutive victory in the City of Palms.
Montverde, ranked No.1 in the country in the USA Today Super 25, has now won 44 straight games overall.
“We expect to win,” Eagles coach Kevin Boyle said. “I think sometimes that adds a lot of value to a game. When teams have won with the frequency that we have in the past couple years … we expect to win and the other team expects something to go wrong.”
The play of Trinity senior Christian Thieneman helped keep the Shamrocks in the game. Thieneman scored 14 of his 15 points in the first half while spending most of the night covering the bigger Simmons in the post.
Montverde hung its hat on an all-world defensive effort that held Trinity to seven points in the first 14:37 of the second half.
It was during that time that the Eagles erased a 25-23 deficit and took a 47-32 into the final 90 seconds of the contest.
Boyle used Simmons to double team the Trinity guards in the backcourt and the Shamrocks managed 35.9 percent shooting in the second half, with several of those makes coming once the game was already decided late.
“We knew they had a lot of shooters,” said Simmons, who will play at LSU next fall. “We had to get out and talk a lot. It was mainly just communication.”
Simmons was coming off a game in which he dominated Alpharetta (Ga.) St. Francis with 37 points and 18 rebounds. Trinity double-teamed the superstar nearly every time he touched the ball and he spent much of his night passing out of double teams in the post.
He finished with seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks to along with his 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
“Ben is a terrific passer,” Boyle said. “He got guys open 3’s. He is unselfish. He only took 11 shots. He is not going to force it out there.”
Howard Washington (13 points) and Marcel Ponitka (11 points) also scored in double figures for Montverde.
The Eagles have not lost a game at Bishop Verot since 2011 when they fell to Arlington (Tx.) Grace Prep in a semifinal game.
Monday’s championship game will be Boyle’s 50th Classic game.
“It would mean a lot,” Boyle said of winning three straight. “This is a great tournament. I think I have been here 14 times. I always enjoy coming here. I love the atmosphere.”
Trinity – Levitch 6, Ramser 4, Thieneman 15, Spalding 8, West 9.
Montverde Academy – Washington 13, Ponitka 11, Simmons 16, Montgomery 2, Grave 6, Lechter-Ellis 2, Moore 2.
3-point goals – Levitch 2, Thieneman 3, West 1, Washington 2, Ponitka 2, Simmons 1, Graves 2.