Florida Prep Falcons Set To Play For Class 2A State Basketball Title Tonight
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // March 1, 2017
lead by head coach Julius Reid
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – State Championships are nothing new to Brevard County these days.
Tonight at the Lakeland Civic Center in Lakeland, Florida, The Florida Preparatory Academy Falcons will look to add the fourth state title in Brevard County since December and the schools sixth title in basketball when they face Miami Christian for the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A State Basketball title.
Tip time is 8:30 p.m. and the game can be heard right here on Space Coast Daily with Alan Zlotorzynski on the call.
Florida Prep has a deep rooted basketball history, one born under former legendary head coach Aubon Goporo.
Under the leadership of Goporo, The Florida Air Academy, as it was called then, dominated the basketball landscape of Brevard County.
Goporo’s teams won four state titles and made six state tournament trips under his leadership. They also won a state title in his first season at Florid Prep while he was the assistant head coach.
Players such as Space Coast Sports Hall of Famers, Sausha Kahn (Kansas) and Walter Hodge (Florida), who were instrumental in their college teams winning National Championships, played under Goporo at Florida Prep.
In 2015, Goporo left to pursue other career goals and the school decided to hire Julius Reid. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Reid was also pretty instrumental in helping some Brevard County teams capture round-ball championships.
In 2009, Reid scored 18-points in a state final championship game for head coach James Rowe, helping the Cocoa Tigers win the Class 4A state basketball title.
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Prep head coach Julius Reid speaks with Alan Zlotorzynski.
Like the man he was replacing at Florida Prep, Reid also played his college basketball at Florida Tech.
As a four year starter for head coach Billy Mims, Reid was an instrumental member of a Panthers team that captured the schools first ever regular season Sunshine State Conference title in 2012.
Reid would work as an assistant under Mims before taking the job at Florida Prep.
The match of Reid and Florid Prep was perfect. Reid had just attended and played basketball at school that’s known as one of the most highly rated schools of its kind in the region that places an emphasis on academics with a diverse student body.
Reid had to adjust to the language barriers at Florida Prep but because of his time at FIT, where he earned a civil engineering degree, he was able to do so and focus in on getting the Falcons back to the state championship.
The first year was a struggle, as the Falcons won just eight games. The silver lining was his team was young.
ABOVE VIDEO: 6’10 Mbacke Diong, struggled with the speed of the American game, as well as the footwork but he worked and improved. This past year Diong averaged a double-double per game with 14 pointsand 10 rebounds.
Florida Prep graduated just one senior. This year was different.
Guards AJ Johnson and DeJoun Small returned to average 10 and 14 points respectively, as well as finish with over six assists per game each.
Also returning to start was senior forward Montel Stewart, who averaged 11 points per game this past year.
ABOVE VIDEO: After struggling to adjust, 7’0 center Lahat Thioune averaged nearly a double-double per game ( 9.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG) in 2016-17.
Toss in a few big men from Senegal who just happen to be 7’0 and 6’11 and your team becomes pretty good in a hurry.
Being that tall doesn’t instantly make you a good basketball player and as coach Reid told me in an exclusive interbiew today, the seven footer Lahat Thioune and his fellow countryman Mbacke Diong, struggled with the speed of the American game, as well as the footwork
“They were pretty raw and had areas of their game that needed work,” Coach Reid said. “The good thing is that both are very good kids and were willing to work and put forth the effort to get better”
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlight’s of Florida Prep’s opponent in tonight’s Class 2A state title game.
Get better they did, as Thioune averaged nearly a double-double per game ( 9.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG) and Diong did average a double-double with 14 points per game and 10 rebounds.
Asked what he learned winning championships at Cocoa and Florida Tech Reid responded, “Cocoa was about playing defense and defense wins championships. Coach Mims at Florida Tech is an offensive genius.”
Reid’s philosophy is truly an all-around one and with a group as divers as he has on the floor being able to play different styles is a must. After-all, his guards are no taller than 5’10 and his two big men are taller than every front court in the NBA.
Tonight, Reid will use his diverse team and look to exploit whatever weaknesses Miami Christian has, who also has a storied basketball program having won three state titles of their own.
The goal of getting back to winning state titles starts in Lakeland for the Falcons, as they go for number six. With most of his roster returning next season, don’t be surprised if Florida Prep once again is a regular at the Civic Center in Lakeland on the final day of play for Class 2A.
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