HOLLYWOOD — The opposing team was dropping 3-pointers from everywhere, yet Alonzo Wargolet was not concerned. His team – Darkside – fell behind by 14 points in the first half before finding their own scoring touch and storming past the Living Legends, 63-54, in the high school division championship game during the second annual Ballin’ for a Cause Youth Basketball Tournament in Hollywood.
“I wasn’t scared; I was just like, ‘We’ve got to calm down.’ I know we were playing much better than that, but we just weren’t getting out to their shooters. They were hitting everything,” said Wargolet, who scored 19 points and seized command of the outcome in the final 90 seconds when he scored the game’s final seven points.
The all-day tournament Oct. 24 served as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. Seventeen tribal and non-tribal youth teams – including seven in the high school bracket – filled the Howard Tiger Recreation Center gymnasium.
Games were played simultaneously as the court was divided into two, but the full court was used for the main event: the high school title game.
Ethan Cypress and his Hollywood Hills High School teammate Spencer Douglas – along with Trevon Marks and Nelson Weir – combined for eight 3-pointers that gave the Living Legends a 31-17 lead in the first half before Darkside went on a 12-2 confidence-boosting spurt to close the gap to 33-29 at halftime.
Cypress, who scored a team-high 15 points, made his third 3-pointer of the game to start the second half, but Wargolet answered for Darkside by hitting from beyond the arc and then seconds later completing a 3-point play.
Shelby Osceola, a 6-foot-2 forward from Westwood Christian Academy in Miami, led all scorers with 22 points. Osceola flexed his strength inside and outside on consecutive plays by scoring on an offensive rebound and then draining a 3-pointer that gave Darkside its first lead of the game at 42-39. Darkside never trailed again.
“Once we came back, it was over,” said Wargolet, who attends Plantation’s American Heritage School.
Moments after hitting his team’s 11th and final 3-pointer that pulled the Living Legends to within two points, Weir (12 points) suffered an injury and did not play in the final seven minutes.
After the game, Darkside received the championship trophy and medals at midcourt. The tournament served as a warm-up for players whose high school basketball seasons will start in November.
“It’s mostly about just coming out and playing,” said Cypress, who organized the Living Legends squad that received the runner-up trophy.
Cypress was one of the stars of the tournament. In a semifinal victory, he scored a game-high 30 points and his Hollywood Hills teammate Daron Fulwood poured in 21 points.
The champion Darkside squad consisted of: Breezy Anderson, Ricky Garza, Conner Osceola, Darnell Osceola, Devin Osceola, Shelby Osceola, Jose Rodriguez and Alonzo Wargolet. Karlito Wargolet and Trent Cypress assisted from the sideline.
Elsewhere, Ballers Lyfe, coached by tournament organizer and Recreation aide Ashley Wilcox, won the 15U division, which featured five teams.
Delray Beach, which brought about 20 kids to the tournament, captured the 12U title.