TAMPA Legendary St. Anthony boys basketball coach Bob Hurley has coached on New Year's Eve outside of New Jersey three times during his 38-year career.
All three trips were in Florida for tournaments, which his Friars won.
Hurley hopes that unique winning streak continues when his Friars, ranked No. 22 in the nation by USA Today, face Jacksonville Arlington Country Day in final of the third annual Tampa Hoops Classic tonight at 7 at Plant.
St. Anthony (5-0) advanced with a 71-44 win against Winter Springs while ACD (10-2), the top-ranked team in Class 1A, defeated Orlando Dr. Phillips 68-58 in the other semifinal.
Seniors Elijah Carter and Derrick Williams scored 23 points apiece and the Friars' stifling defense limited Winter Springs (10-2) to four points in the second quarter to obtain a double-digit lead they never surrendered.
"We're very surprised of how well we're playing," said Hurley, whose Friars are playing without 6-foot-8 Maryland recruit Ashton Pankey (stress fracture) and 6-8 Oregon State recruit Devon Collier (academics). "(Winter Springs) had to play (Tuesday) and we had a day off. We had some healthy legs."
ACD jumped out to a 22-7 lead in the first quarter against Dr. Phillips (10-1), but allowed a 25-15 run in the second quarter to enter halftime with a 37-32 lead. Dr. Phillips came within three after a basket by junior guard Shane Larkin early in the third quarter, but ACD pulled away led by 6-8 Cincinnati-bound power forward Justin Jackson, who finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.
"We made some goals before we came down here," Jackson said. "Play hard, play defense and win a championship."
Dr. Phillips and Winter Springs will play in the third-place game at 5:15 at Plant. Tampa Prep, which lost to Miami Dr. Krop 77-74 in a double-overtime consolation game, will play Clearwater, which also lost its consolation game, 63-56, to Brooklyn Lincoln, today in the seventh-place match at 3:15 p.m. at Tampa Prep. Lakewood will face Norfolk Christian in the 11th-place game at 1:30 p.m. at Tampa Prep.