The dream season for University School has resulted in the Sharks’ first state basketball crown.
University School (31-1), ranked second in the nation by USA Today, dominated Ocala Trinity Catholic 80-40 in the Class 5A state final to seal the title on Thursday at RP Funding Center.
The Sharks ran away with the championship game after rolling by 35 in the semifinal. The 75-point combined margin between the two state games is an all-time Florida record.
“It just puts an exclamation point [on our season],” said Vernon Carey Jr., the junior forward and one of the top two ranked prospects in his class. “Our doubters and naysayers, it proves them wrong.”
Carey and Scott Barnes, five-star prospects in the 2019 and 2020 classes, respectively, earn their first championship with an opportunity to return next year for more alongside of coach Adrian Sosa. Senior guards Trey Doomes and Drue Drinnon, who transferred in from Georgia schools in the offseason, finish their high school careers with their first title coming in Florida.
“I was looking to come down here and win state,” said Drinnon. “That’s been my goal since I started high school.”
Added Doomes: “Us coming together and building this brotherhood has been great throughout the year. I hope to continue it.”
Doomes led the charge with 26 points, six rebounds and four assists. Drinnon had 15 points. Carey went for 13 and nine rebounds, and Barnes finished with 8 points, six rebounds and five assists.
It was evident from the start the final would go a lot like Wednesday’s semifinal, which U-School won 83-48 over Tampa Catholic. University led 23-6 at the end of the first quarter, finishing the period on a 15-0 run.
“They just went out from the beginning, right from the jump,” said Sosa, who wins the title in his sixth year leading the team. “We were able to get out [in transition]. We defended. We took away passing lanes. We know they like shooting 3s. We crowded shooters.”
The highlights started coming in earnest in the second quarter. Barnes had a pair of dunks on alley-oops, Carey threw down another few, including a ferocious left-handed windmill, and the Sharks were getting out on the fast break consistently.
U-School, which ran the clock on both state opponents, clinched that 35-point advantage at the 6:37 mark of the fourth quarter.
The season might not be over for the Sharks. They are expected to be accepted into GEICO Nationals, the nation’s premier postseason national tournament played in New York and formerly known as Dick’s (Sporting Goods) Nationals. It will be played March 29-31. The tournament field gets announced on Tuesday.