Kevin Boyle was waiting for the night his team would verify itself as the top-ranked team in the country.
On the final night of the Beach Ball Classic, Montverde Academy (Fla.) left no doubt.
Led by the top prospect in the Class of 2018 R.J. Barrett, the Eagles completed a flawless run through the tournament with a 70-42 victory over Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.).
It is the second Beach Ball Classic title for Montverde, their last coming two years ago.
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Before getting his hands on the championship trophy, Boyle got a hold of something else – a cup of Rita’s Italian Ice.
“We don’t have any Rita’s near us in Florida, and there’s one by my house in Florida,” he said. “I had to make sure got one before we left.”
One thing the Eagles didn’t leave was any doubt as to who was the class of this year’s tournament.
Before it was able to settle in, Long Island Lutheran found itself in an early hole. Montverde scored the game’s first seven points, largely courtesy of its advantage in the post.
“We wanted to put them away early, we didn’t want them to get any confidence and make this a game,” said Montverde junior forward Makhi Mitchell. “We knew what we were getting into in this tournament. Playing DeMatha (Md.) and seeing what (Long Island Lutheran) has to offer last night, we knew we had to take care of business and get the job done.”
Long Island Lutheran pulled to within four points late in the first half, largely on the strength of Donatas Kupsas. The 6-9 senior had 12 of his team’s 21 points in the opening half, allowing them to go to the break down 10 points.
But as has been the case all tournament, Montverde started the second half with a run to kill any hope of an upset.
“They have an ability to just respond to any play you make, immediately,” said Long Island Lutheran coach John Buck. “They have five players on the floor that are high-major players, and it’s a different class of athlete. If a team makes one mistake, they make you pay for it.
“This week, we responded well emotionally when teams made runs. (Saturday night), that was not the case.”
Barrett finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists – three away from becoming the fourth player in Beach Ball Classic history to notch a triple-double. Three other Montverde standouts also scored in double figures.
“I kind of struggled the first two games, so I just wanted to stay aggressive and come out and do the things my team needed me to do to win,” he said. “We work so hard for everything we get. So to be able to take (the Beach Ball Classic trophy) back home, it really means a lot.”
Kupsas finished with 16 points to lead Long Island Lutheran, while Tyson Etienne had 12 points in a losing effort.