On Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30, the Palm Beach Central High School basketball program hosted its annual Thanksgiving Classic tournament. This year, four teams participated in the two-day competition.
The tournament had grown into a six-team event during the 2015-16 season, but the Florida High School Athletic Association pushed the season back a week this year, longtime head coach Jason Pitman said.
“The last few years, preseason week lined up with Thanksgiving break, and it didn’t make sense to hold a pre-season event,” he explained. “It works more in regard to the FHSAA and its requirements. This season, Thanksgiving happened to fall during the first week, and it is really difficult to find schools that want to hold games, events or even tournaments during breaks.”
On the first day, the Broncos hosted American Heritage School in its first matchup, while Jupiter and John I. Leonard high schools filled the other bracket. The Lancers bested Jupiter 80-73, and the Broncos handled the Stallions 70-40. William VanHook led the charge for the Broncos with 15 points in the first game. Andrew Frection recorded 8 points and 7 rebounds. Thompson Hyland put up 18 points for the Stallions.
On day two, Jupiter defeated American Heritage 77-53 with Larry Scott being the lead scoring machine for the Warriors with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Glesil also had 16 points for Jupiter. Hyland tallied 19 points and Raquon Kelly had 15 points for the Stallions.
Palm Beach Central won its second matchup against John I. Leonard 51-35. Leaders on the board for the Broncos were Max Cedeno with 11 points, Andrew Flete with 9 points and Frection, who recorded 8 points and 6 rebounds. VanHook finished up with 6 points and 8 rebounds. Jevon Allen led the Lancers with 20 points.
The Broncos are a young team, with only three seniors and have to fill the shoes of Alphonse Alfred, who graduated last year and now plays at Cabrillo College in California. “We have a good starting place. It has been an adjustment without Alphonse,” Pitman said. “The team is coming along. We have seven returning players who played on the varsity last year and four starters.”
The Broncos will look to compete with the team’s strength being on the backcourt with Eduardo Diaz and William VanHook, but Pitman indicated that Flete and Frection have grown into important, dependable players for the team. “We have a few guys with the potential to score 20 points in a game, and that makes us much harder to defend against,” he explained.
Without question, the Broncos are in what may be the toughest district in Palm Beach County with the new configurations. Royal Palm Beach, Forest Hill and Palm Beach Lakes high schools have been added to an already packed district with Jupiter High School and last year’s state finalist Wellington High School. “It is going to be tough every time you play, no matter where the game is at,” Pitman said.
Pitman was confident in his assertion that tough does not bother the Broncos. “Hopefully it will prepare us, win or lose, to be at our best when that district tournament starts in February, which we are hosting this year,” he said.