Montverde Academy Seeks Greater Acclaim
By Peter Kerasotis // April 1, 2012
PETER K IN ORLANDO MAGAZINE
Published: June 2011
MONTVERDE, FLORIDA – An undulating line of cars snakes along the rolling hills on rural County Road 455, slowing traffic, practically forcing people to obey the 35 mph speed limit.
The tiny burg of Montverde, a buc-olic community off Lake Apopka’s western bank, doesn’t normally see such a backlog clogging its main thoroughfare, even if that main thoroughfare is only a two-lane road. But then again, people around here don’t normally get to see some of the best high school basketball teams in the country competing in a tournament in their own backyard.
Donnie Wilkie is one of those drivers maneuvering along County Road 455 onto the campus of Montverde Academy, a private school resembling a small college, one with Mediterranean-style stucco buildings, clay-tiled roofs and manicured landscaping.
Wilkie has driven from Southwest Florida, where he runs Fort Myers’ annual City of Palms Classic, generally considered the nation’s most prestigious regular-season prep basketball tournament. High schools from coast to coast practically beg Wilkie for an invite into his tourney’s 16-team bracket.
Needless to say, Wilkie knows what the best high school basketball in the nation looks like, which is why, during the last weekend in January, he is in a line of cars irresistibly drawn to Montverde Academy, home to the highest nationally ranked basketball team from Florida.