Sports Editor

For many of us, last weekend was about finally digesting Christmas dinner and sorting through receipts to return the presents that didn’t pass muster.

County athletes were rejecting other athletes or teams that weren’t better than them, especially in basketball and wrestling.

Osceola High held its annual Knockout Christmas Classic, with some of the top wrestling talent in and out of the state of Florida and undefeated champions in most weight classes (more results later in this story).

The Osceola boys basketball team traveled to The Villages and won three high-pressure games in the Battle of the Villages.

The Kowboys topped Stranahan (59-58), Villages Charter (80-78) and Miami Christian (65-62) to move to 7-5.

The tourney win was a shot of adrenaline the 2017 Class 9A state champs and reigning regional finalists needed, OHS Coach Nate Alexander said, going into a key Orange Belt Conference home game Tuesday against Gateway, who has followed winning three games to opening the season by losing four straight.

“It was a season-saver for us, that’s for sure,” Alexander said. “We had a rough time at the City of Palms tournament (in Fort Myers), but we met (Wednesday) and re-established our roles and how some guys may have to do some different things.” Also over the weekend, Liberty (2-1) and Harmony (0-3) competed in the annual Jim Clark Classic at Bishop Moore.

On the girls side, City of Life continued its trek to defend the Class 2A state title at the Florida Prospects Classic at Lake Highland by beating three public school programs, including Lake Howell. The Warriors (9-3) won 54-48 on Saturday despite trailing the Silver Hawks, 16-3, after the first quarter.

Lake Howell reached the Class 8A regional finals last year.

The Warriors got to the Silver bracket championship game after beating Seminole (68-63 in overtime) and Cypress Creek (55-51).

Osceola also competed in the Florida Prospects event, dropping three games.

St. Cloud won a pair of games in the College of Central Florida Holiday Shootout in Ocala. The Bulldogs (12-2) dispatched Cape Coral (58-38) and Madison County (69-19). They play a pair of District 8A-6 road games next week, at Celebration on Tuesday and Thursday at Melbourne.

Gateway (8-4) finished runner-up to the host Green Wave in the Father Lopez Classic.

The wrestling tournament at Osceola was the annual collection of incredible talent, like it always is. And senior Malyke Hines, the two-time Class 3A 126-pound state champion, wrestled up and cut through all that talent at 138 pounds. Hines defeated Mathew Singleton (54-1) of Woodward Academy (Ga.), 6-3, to go to 24-0.

At 162 pounds, sophomore Nolin Eaddy won his first two matches, had a run-in with champion Brevin Balmeceda of South Dade and reached the medal round, en route to finishing sixth.

Hines and Eaddy’s efforts helped Osceola (67 points) finish 19th in the team standings, led by Camden County, Ga. (191) and 2018 2A state champions Lake Gibson (185).