TAMPA — For the second consecutive night, Tampa Catholic found itself ahead by three during the final seconds at the City of Tampa Championships, with its opponent having possession of the ball.
And for the second straight night, the Crusaders caught a break.
With 4.4 remaining, Tampa Catholic sophomore Chivarsky Corbett stripped the ball at the top of the key from Chamberlain’s David Cook and TC was able to run out the clock to seal a 72-69 win in the semifinals at Tampa Prep on Thursday.
Tampa Catholic (10-0) will make its first championship appearance in the tournament since 2005 and will face Tampa Prep in the final at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Chamberlain will face Plant, which lost to Tampa Prep 66-38 in the other semifinal, in the third-place game at 6.
Sophomore forward Jio Molina led the Crusaders with 19 points while Corbett added 16 points and five blocks.
“To beat Sickles (on Tuesday), which was undefeated, and to beat Chamberlain, which had one loss, is really big for the guys,” Tampa Catholic coach Don Dziagwa said.
Reggie Hart led Chamberlain with 23 points.
Tampa Prep, which won the tournament three straight years from 2007-09, went on a 21-0 run in the first quarter and cruised to victory to remain undefeated at 10-0.
“It’s a game of runs,” said Tampa Prep junior guard Josh Heath, who finished with a game-high 17 points. “If we can make our runs longer and quicker, it’s just better for us.”
Six-foot-8 junior transfer Adonis Rwabigwi added 14 points for the Terrapins.
Tampa Prep lost to Blake in the tournament championship game last season.
“It’s going to be tough (against Tampa Catholic),” said Heath, son of USF men’s basketball coach Stan Heath. “We just have to get off to a hot start.”