After a certain height, an inch or two doesn’t matter.
Some sources list John Egbunu’s height as 6 feet, 10 inches. Some list the Fort Walton Beach senior’s height as 7 feet. Navarre coach Klint Lay just knows the 230-pound Egbunu, like his defensive impact, is huge.
(PHOTO: Navarre's Andrew Berteau, 10, drives around a pick set by teammate Gatlin Casey, 3.)
“It helps to have that big guy back there,” Lay said after the Vikings beat host Navarre 61-39 Friday. “Normal high schoolers don’t get that big.”
Egbunu and point guard Drew Davis, both of whom have committed verbally to play for the University of South Florida, transferred to Fort Walton Beach from an Atlanta-area school last summer. They teamed up on a thunderous one-hand alley-oop dunk and Egbunu turned several offensive rebounds into two-handed flushes, but the big center’s presence hurt Navarre more on defense.
“We ran our offense well,” Lay said. “We got a lot of layups and shots inside, twice as many as (the Vikings) did in the first half, but we missed almost every one of them. Our guys would take it in, see the 6-11 guy and hesitate or alter their shots. They just haven’t seen that kind of size.”
The Raiders’ best offensive option – and only effective option against the Vikings – was to give Gatlin Casey the ball and let him drive into the lane. Casey scored 19 of the Raiders’ 39 points.
“He’s probably the most coachable kid on our team,” Lay said of Casey. “He does what he’s asked; he’s fearless. I’m trying to get him to be our team leader, and he’s stepping into that role.”
Blake Malter finished with 12 points, eight in the fourth quarter after Fort Walton had cleared its bench.
Tyrone Culbreth, a 6-foot-5 do-everything forward, led the Vikings with 14 points. Egbunu and sixth-man Trace Ryan, a former Raider, scored 11 points each in the balanced attack. Ryan transferred to Fort Walton, where his father is a teacher and coach, after the 2011-2012 school year.
Navarre’s record dropped to 1-12; the Vikings are 13-2.
The Raider junior varsity beat Fort Walton Beach 55-47, led by Tre Baker’s 19 points.
Navarre was scheduled to play at Pensacola on Tuesday and at Crestview today, Thursday Jan. 8. The jayvee game is scheduled to tip-off at 4:30 p.m., with the varsity game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.