Heritage Christian will chase another Florida Christian Conference title after finishing runner-up last year.
The Tigers are in District 4A-5 with Santa Fe Catholic, Cornerstone Charter, Lakeland Christian, Orangewood Christian, Circle Christian and Master’s Academy.
The Tigers lineup features senior guards Nate Claudio, Diego Marrero, Jose Mundo and Brian Deyant, junior point guard Jacob Mundo, senior forwards Yohan Nevers an Alexander Rodriguez, junior centers Jeff Belizaire and Grayson Pugh and senior power forward Kamal Brandon.
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The Warriors, trying to match the success of the state champion girls team, will try to win a stacked District 2A-5 against the likes of Central Florida Christian Academy, Lake Wales Vanguard, Agape Christian, International Community, Kingdom Prep and Victory Christian.
Coach Rick Rodriguez’s team consists of senior Kenny Payton, who scored 19 points in an season-opening 86-26 win over Brevard Private on Tuesday, fellow senior center Wyatt Calderon, Elijah Lane and Froilan Jeremy, juniors Brendon Frontanes, Kevin Baretto, Moises Rivera and Shamyll Torres.
The Eagles have been the Christian league’s runners-up the last two years, and Coach Jim Estrella said “The kids are on a mission … they’re tired of being a bridesmaids.”
All of the starters return from last year’s team, including senior point guard A.J. Bass, senior center Troy Crose, Moises Urena and 6-6 wing Eric Joseph. Three other juniors will be playing time, like Xavier Rivas. The varsity also includes eighth-grader Isaiah Sutherland, whose play earned him the right to play on the varsity. “And he can play with these kids,” Estrella said.
Heritage will step out of FCC play this year to take on Gateway, The First Academy and Windermere Prep.