Ray Lewis may not have called Grandview Prep to offer some motivation like he did Tuesday. He only sent a text message.
Ivan Canete, Grandview Prep’s best player, may have fouled out with four very long minutes remaining in the Class 2A state championship game.
Nothing rattled Grandview Prep on Wednesday.
The Pride finally broke through with its 51-40 win over Orlando Christian Prep, winning a state championship after six consecutive empty trips to the state tournament.
“The Grandview Curse, we broke it,” said senior guard Eric Mance, who scored 16 huge points for the Pride. “Our softball program, they won a state championship (in 2012). It wasn’t nice with them walking around with their rings and we’ve been here seven years in a row. We wanted one.”
Grandview (30-2) took control early and never relinquished it, despite several Orlando Christian runs that made things interesting. Canete’s 11-point, six-rebound first-half performance powered the Pride in the game’s opening 16 minutes.
Mance and a cast of role players did the rest once Canete picked up his fourth and fifth fouls. Mance made three 3-pointers and played the full 32 minutes, including much of the fourth quarter with four fouls of his own.
“We had to come together,” Grandview senior Sean Walsh said. “We were prepared for it. We’ve been through it when (Canete) is in foul trouble.”
For the second game in a row, Grandview Prep hunkered down inside and forced its opponent to try to win from the perimeter. That strategy worked again. Orlando Christian (20-7) shot 29 percent, making only 11 shots, including just 4-of-18 in the second half. The Warriors were 5-of-18 from 3-point range.
Orlando Christian junior guard Adonys Henriquez, who’s verbally committed to Miami and one of the state tournament’s most talented players, hustled for his 17 points. He was 6-of-15 shooting, and only scored three points in the final quarter.
Grandview’s 2-3 zone, held together by 6-foot-9 center Windale Glinton, did the trick. Glinton had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench, helping the Pride outrebound Orlando Christian 32-17.
“I told them if we don’t turn the ball over and rebound defensively, we have a chance to win,” Grandview coach Joe Dawson said.
Canete won the Most Valuable Player award for the 2A state tournament. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the state semifinal, and started in rhythm in the final. His last two fouls — a push-off offensive foul and a loose-ball foul — brought complaints from Grandview Prep fans and coach Joe Dawson.
But Grandview found a way. Canete fouled out with Grandview leading by six. Orlando Christian cut that deficit in half but never got closer.
“It’s so rewarding,” Dawson said. “It was a great team effort from everyone.”