Providence 67, Archbishop Carroll 48
Legendary Stallions Head Coach Jim Martin has his Providence squad on the verge of their fourth state title since 2010 following a systematic dismantling of Miami’s Archbishop Carroll. The Stallions outpaced the Bulldogs in the second half by seventeen points utilizing their guards to comfortably extend the two point lead they possessed as the teams headed to the locker rooms for the half. Providence outscored Carroll 20-6 in the third quarter and never looked back. Zachery Bryant paced the Stallions with 23 points, while Jacorie Archie added 13. Archbishop Carroll’s Daniel Cordero led al scorers with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Providence out rebounded the Bulldogs by a 38-22 margin, as well as forced Archbishop Carroll into just 32% shooting from the field. This was Archbishop Carroll’s first ever trip to Lakeland, and just their fifth postseason appearance in school history. The win moves Providence’s record on the season to 25-5, while Archbishop Carroll’s record is complete at 29-3.
Westminster Academy 58, Seffner Christian 45
“It wouldn’t have mattered where we practiced during the week…this place is just different and it’s hard to simulate 6′-10″ in practice.” Those were the words of Seffner Christian Academy Head Coach Sam Moorer, referencing his team’s abysmal 29% shooting from the field, as well as having to face Westminster’s 6-feet,10 inches and 220-pound starting forward, Paul Atkinson. The Yale signee poured in 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lions. After the game, Westminster HC Ehren Wallhoff discussed the plan of attack. “We talked about it in the pre game and emphasized that the ball needed to go into the post as much as possible.” It was just a 3-point game at the halftime break in favor of Westminster, but an 18-11 third quarter provided the necessary breathing room for the Lions to see the job through. Reid Walker led Seffner Christian with 12 points, while fellow senior backcourt teammate Derek Webster added 11 for the Crusaders. In addition to Atkinson’s 20 and 11 performance for the Lions, sophomore guard Chase Johnstone added 15 points along with the help of senior forward Jason Strong, who added 10 points for the Lions. Westminster advances to the 4A title game on Friday at 8:00pm with a record of 29-4. Meanwhile, Seffner Christian’s finishes the season with a record of 24-7.
4A FINAL: Friday March 3rd, 8:00pm
Providence (25-5) vs. Westminster Academy (29-4)
Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale) 39, Marianna 20
The Marianna Bulldogs and their fans made the five hours plus, 334 mile trek from the Florida/Alabama line in the panhandle to the heartland. That’s where the positivity–if you’re a Dogs Fan that is–ends unfortunately. Marianna’s point total in the semis was just the fourth time since 2000 that a team failed to make it out of the 20’s. The last team was Saint Petersburg in 2012 in the 7A State Semis when they were trounced by Blanche Ely by a 62-29 final score. But it doesn’t stop there. According to state records dating back nearly a century, that’s the lowest total points for a team at this stage in the history of the event. Marianna’s FG shooting percentage ended at 11%, or 5-for-45 from the field if you’re keeping track at home. Calvary Christian’s effort wasn’t exactly optimal by any definition. The Eagles only shot 41% from the field, but used their insane length in the front court to take a commanding 44-27 rebounding edge. Calvary also struggled from the charity stripe, making just 9-of-23. The Eagles now advance to face Tampa Catholic in the 5A Finals on Saturday at 10:00am. Marianna finishes the season with a 25-3 record, their best in school history. Meanwhile, Calvary Christian advances to the title game with a 22-6 record.
Tampa Catholic 92, The Villages 67
Much like last evening in the 3A semis when Deltona Trinity Christian’s Amorie Archibald went off for 43 points in their victory, this evening–or afternoon we should say–belonged to the heralded Kevin Knox. While The Villages’ student section incessantly chanted “overrated”, Knox decided to take them to task with his play and teach them–and their beloved Buffalo–a lesson in pain and suffering on the first day of the Lenten Calendar–and in front of University of North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams nonetheless. By the time Knox left the court with just a few minutes remaining in the contest, he was responsible for 40 points and 20 rebounds. Knox’s stat line was a thing of beauty if you’re a Tampa Catholic fan. The senior finished with the aforementioned 40 points, but did it on 13-of-17 shooting, including an amazing perfect 7-for-7 from beyond the three-point line, as well as a near-perfect 7-for-8 from the free-throw line for good measure. Tim Carter and Josey Davis added 14 and 12 respectively for the Crusaders. Tre Mann led the Buffalo with 24 points, while Terry Ivery added 17 in the losing effort. The Villages finishes the season at 30-3, while Tampa Catholic advances to play in the finals with a record of 25-5.
5A FINAL: Saturday, March 4th, 10:00am
Tampa Catholic (25-5) vs. Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale) (22-6)
West Gadsden 64, Wildwood 44
The Panthers of West Gadsden are the Class 1A State Champions in hoops for the first time in school history thanks in-large to a suffocating perimeter defense against the #1-ranked Wildwood Wildcats. The Panthers jumped out to an 11-4 lead, then stretched the lead to ten at the halftime break. Three players scored 14 points a piece for West Gadsen. Xavier Bush, Mark Bradwell and Rodarius Stokes each led the way for West Gadsden. Whereas the ‘Cats seemingly couldn’t miss the previous night against Graceville, they managed to make just two shot beyond the arc, ending up a minuscule 2-for-28–or 7% from beyond the arc. If there’s a silver lining for Wildwood, it is that they return (literally) every single player on their roster from this 25-4 season. West Gadsden, who will graduate the core of their squad this season, finishes the season as Champions, and at a record of 25-6. Shemar Rose led the ‘Cats in scoring with 12.
Miami Christian 51, Florida Prep 48
You simply cannot script any better. In fact, Hollywood blushes at the image we witnessed at the end of the 2A Finals on Wednesday night. With less than two seconds on the clock when it left his hands, Neftali Alvarez sunk a three-pointer at the buzzer to help his squad achieve back-to-back state championships. The shot completed a comeback from an eight point deficit earlier in the quarter. Florida Prep led for most of the contest, and took a five point lead into the final eight minutes of play. That’s when the Victors turned up the heat in their back court and started creating turnovers and wide open looks for themselves. Although Florida Prep shot well in the first half, they got cold when it mattered the most, registering just a 7-for-23 performance in the second half, good for just 30% for the half and just 37% for the game. Four players were in double-figures for the Falcons in the losing effort led by Dejoun Small’s 13 points. Montel Stewart added 12 for Florida Prep and Mbacke Diong and AJ Johnson added ten a piece. South Carolina commit Felipe Haase, who had just six points in the semis, was money-good with 20 points for the Victors. Miami Christian finishes the season 30-3, while Florida Prep finishes 25-6.