Oak Ridge High School (Orlando) is one of the top programs in the state of Florida. It entered Thursday’s matchup with crosstown rival Boone High School (Orlando) undefeated in all in-state games, 11-2 with only losses to national powers Los Angeles Westchester and Super 25 No. 1 La Lumiere. The Pioneers had been held below 60 points just once all season (then they scored 58), and were expected to roll in to Boone’s gym and avenge a stunning loss in 2018.
Instead, they were held to 16 points. That’s not a typo, that’s precise execution of a very specific game plan.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, knowing that it would struggle to run with Oak Ridge in a straight game, Boone instead employed an aggressive stall campaign. It trailed 4-3 entering the fourth after connecting on a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the third, then took the lead on a bucket with 6:30 remaining, which gave the Braves a 5-4 lead. From there it was a free throw shooting clinic, as Boone outshot Oak Ridge from the line, connecting on 11-of-14 attempts from the line and scoring two other buckets down the stretch for a remarkable 20-16 victory.
Oak Ridge scored the only points in the first half and led 3-0 at halftime.
“I was impressed with how well the guys actually ran (the stall offense),” Boone coach Dave Martinson told the Sentinel. “They ran it with speed and aggressiveness. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do it. We made some big shots and took the lead.”
Some may find fault with Boone’s perceived gamesmanship, but the Braves didn’t do anything outside the letter of the law. Rather, they executed a precise plan that exerted maximum pressure on a very good program, then took advantage on the tiny windows and mistakes that provided a path to a win.
The result was that scoreline, And, of course, one of the more memorable wins in Central Florida in recent years. While Boone’s success might provide the veneer of parity in basketball in the area, it’s highly questionable whether the strategy would work. After all, now Oak Ridge is ready for it, and Boone’s success was more a factor of remarkably efficient execution than revolutionary strategy.
That said, the final scoreline did prove anything is possible, even if only for a single night.