Calathes Sick But Wharton Feels The Pain

WINTER PARK --- Nick Calathes felt like a train wreck but it could have been much, much worse. He had the flu and a fever bad enough that he didn't practice Monday and when he took the floor Tuesday night for Lake Howell's Class 5A Regional semi-final against Tampa Wharton, he wondered where he would find the strength to play. As bad as he felt, though, he made Tampa Wharton feel a whole lot worse.

(Nick Calathes profile)

Calathes, who is a commitment to the University of Florida's basketball recruiting class of 2007, normally scores about 31 points per game but Tuesday night he managed just 12 but he made his contributions and got his teammates involved. Three teammates scored in double figures though, including 19 from 6-8 junior Chandler Parsons, leading Lake Howell to a 72-43 win. The Silver Hawks (25-4) will play host to Lake Region Saturday night in the regional final for a chance to advance to the state Final Four.

"If the game had been yesterday I couldn't have have played," said Calathes, "I really felt bad but I had to give it a try tonight. Sometimes you have to play when you're not feeling your best."

Calathes didn't have a good shooting night and that is probably due to playing at less than 100 percent, but he had a good overall game and he affected the game in a lot of ways other than his scoring. He took only 12 shots but he pulled down 12 rebounds, dished out five assists and had a couple of steals. In Lake Howell's 23-3 second quarter, he affected the game with his defense, forcing three turnovers in four Wharton possessions by screening his man from the ball so the passes sailed out of bounds.

"I think he's one of the best high school basketball players in the state of Florida," said Lake Howell Coach Reggie Kohn. "He's a pure scorer but even on a night like tonight when he didn't have it, he still showed that he can affect the game in a lot of ways.

"He played the night sick but that's a sign of toughness. Sometimes you have to step on the court and play even when you're sick or hurt. When you're the best player and you're as good as Nick is, you sometimes have to battle through the coughing and being less than your best. You have to fight through that and he did tonight."

Because he didn't have the quickness to take defenders off the dribble Tuesday night, Calathes stayed within the framework of the offense and got his teammates involved, making solid passes, setting good picks and often directing traffic from the top of the key. Four of his five assists went to Parsons who had an outstanding all-around game. Parsons, who is starting to draw plenty of attention from Big East and ACC schools as well as the University of Florida, had a solid game both inside and from beyond the arc, and he helped Lake Howell control the interior with his defense.

"He [Parsons] is starting to get noticed," said Kohn. "He's already heard from most of the Big East and ACC schools. Florida wants to see more of him, too. He's got a chance to develop into a really outstanding player."

Parsons is rail thin and in need of some work in the weight room, but he's got 23-foot three-point range and has the ability to put the ball on the floor. He hit a couple of threes during Lake Howell's run of 23 straight points in the second quarter when the Silver Hawks went from a 12-9 deficit to a 32-9 lead before Wharton finally got on the board with a three with five seconds left in the half.

Parsons showed he could run the floor and finish on the break, but his most spectacular plays were on a pair of dunks off alley-oops. He got one from Calathes on an inbounds play and the other on an assist from Jerry Rodriguez, the junior point guard who is a UMass commit.

When Calathes is at full strength, Kohn thinks the Silver Hawks have a dimension in their game that is difficult for other teams to match. The 6-5 junior guard is a tremendous scorer but he never neglects his teammates.

"He's flat out a scorer," said Kohn. "Nick finds ways to put the ball in the basket. Guys can shoot, guys can penetrate but Nick does everything and he finds ways to score whether it's running down a loose ball and turning it into a fast break or picking up garbage around the basket. He's a great garbage player and he scores a lot of his points that way but he can also knock down threes or take his man off the dribble.

"What you have to like about him is that he's got the total game. He's a smart, tough player who is always looking for his teammates and he will always do whatever the team needs most that night. He's got the vision to see the whole floor and the understanding to know where everyone is and when to get the ball to them."

Coughing and sweating after the game, Calathes could only think of the ride home.

"I gotta go to bed," he said. "We've got a big game Saturday night and I've got to be ready to play at full strength."

EXTRA: Video interview with Nick Calathes after his victory in a prior game:

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