GIBSONTON — On paper, Riverview had the size to match up with Tampa Bay Tech.
In practice, the Sharks had no answer for 6-foot-7 center Elgrin Wilson.
Wilson notched a double double and scored a game-high 32 points Wednesday as Tampa Bay Tech, the No. 2 seed, eliminated No. 3-seeded Riverview from the Class 7A, District 8 tournament with a 67-52 semifinal victory. The Titans will face East Bay in the final Friday.
“Strength is what I’ve been blessed with, and that’s what I want to use when I go against any opponent,” said Wilson, a senior. “If a team’s not boxing out, you have the ability to get those easy putbacks. I’m just looking for the open lane and try to get as many rebounds as I can.”
After trailing 35-14 at halftime, Riverview (9-11) opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run and put together a fourth-quarter run to pull within single digits with 5:44 remaining. Junior Morgan Drummond hit two 3-pointers and added a free throw after drawing a foul to cut the deficit to 51-40.
But Wilson scored 10 in the final 5:30, with his last two baskets coming off slick passes from Tre’s Stewart.
“We started out in that first half playing fundamental basketball, making sure we were boxing out and controlling the boards,” Titans coach Adrian Johnson said. “In the fourth quarter we went back to getting a body on them, and we did a great job, I’m proud of them.”
Top-seeded East Bay pushed the tempo and rolled to a dominant 63-46 victory over No. 4 Plant City (10-13) in the second semifinal.
Not even the fact that the game started 30 minutes late (due to the Raiders forgetting their uniforms) slowed the Indians (20-4), who were led by seniors Dario Duque (18 points) and Justin Green (12).
“We beat them pretty good the last time we played them, so I was concerned how we were going to come out,” Easy Bay coach Billy Teeden said. “But they understood the moment, that if we lost this game there wouldn’t be another game.”
Sophomore Shelton Faison (12 points) and senior Teshey Thompson (10) were in double figures for Plant City.
8A-7: Plant escapes; Wharton cruises
PLANT CITY — Plant qualified for the postseason for the second straight season courtesy of a 64-61 victory over Alonso in the first of two semifinal matchups at the Class 8A, District 7 tournament.
The Panthers, though, had to sweat it out over a tense fourth quarter.
Second-seeded Plant (20-4) held a 32-16 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before No. 3 seed Alonso (15-12) made a furious charge over the final 13 minutes.
Trailing by 12 with a little more than five minutes to go, Alonso went on a 14-4 run, capped by Gregory Robinson’s 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining, to cut the deficit to two. The Ravens had a chance to tie but Jace-hugh Lawrence missed two free throws, and Plant answered with Anthony Haynes’ layup to pull ahead 62-58 with a minute left.
Christopher Malachi again pulled the Ravens to within two after draining his third 3-pointer with 19 seconds to go. Plant’s Chris Faulk was subsequently fouled and made one of two free throws. Alonso tried to draw up a play for Malachi to send the game into overtime, but the Panthers forced a turnover.
“(Malachi’s) one of their best players, so we just assumed it was going to him,” said Haynes, who had the defense on Malachi that caused the turnover.
Haynes did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 17 of his game-high 25 before the break. Malachi led Alonso with 19 points, and Robinson added 15 for the Ravens.
Fifth-seeded Bloomingdale upset No. 4 seed Newsome on Tuesday but couldn’t duplicate the feat against tournament favorite Wharton.
The Bulls didn’t score more than six points in any quarter due to a stifling Wharton defense.
The result? A 54-23 runaway victory for Wharton, which is playing for a district title for a third straight season. Wharton (23-3) outscored Bloomingdale 16-6 in the second quarter.
The Wildcats were led by Troy Holston (16 points), Tyler Langston (14) and C.J. McGill (11). Ryan Bethoney was the lone player in double figures for the Bulls (10-15) after registering 11 points.
7A-9: Steinbrenner falls; Chiefs cruise
TAMPA — Wiregrass Ranch has just one returning starter from last season’s district championship team, but he made sure the Bulls are getting a shot at another title.
Rico Kerney scored a game-high 32 in Wednesday’s Class 7A, District 9 semifinal, leading Wiregrass Ranch to an 85-75 win over Steinbrenner.
Host Chamberlain, which also won a district title last season, defeated Freedom 75-48 in the other semifinal. The Chiefs (16-7) will play the Bulls in Friday’s championship game at 7:30 p.m.
Wiregrass Ranch (16-9) survived a seesaw battle. There were nine ties and 12 lead changes as the Bulls blew a 39-29 halftime lead to fall behind by five early in the fourth quarter.
Wiregrass Ranch regrouped and pulled away down the stretch, outscoring the Warriors 33-18 in the final quarter.
Larrentz Manora added 22 points for the Bulls while the Warriors (11-10) got 24 points from Isaiah Gonclaves.
6A-11: Sickles lets up but closes out King
TAMPA — Sickles defended its homecourt Wednesday, eliminating King 53-45 in the Class 6A, District 11 semifinals. After building a 9-3 first-quarter lead, the Gryphons scored 22 in the second quarter for a 31-14 halftime lead.
The Gryphons took their foot off the gas in the second quarter and were outscored 16-7. Although the Lions cut the lead to four after an Anthony Pressley 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, they could not make their free throws down the stretch.
Sickles junior Daniel Harris went down hard in the third quarter after a fantastic first half, when he went 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He needed help off the court and was wheeled out of the gym, only to return and cheer on his team from a wheelchair.
“I wouldn’t say I was nervous when they cut it to four,” Gryphons coach Renaldo Garcia said. “When Harris went down, they were a little shell-shocked; it took a little while to get our focus back.”
Sickles center Eric Floyd was strong in the paint, pulling down seven rebounds and keeping King’s Jaron Fleming under control. Junior guard Raymond Santiago contributed valuable rebounding and defense off the bench for the Gryphons.
King whittled a 17-point lead to four with five minutes remaining. The Lions got a huge lift from Pressley, who was 5-of-6 from behind the arc.
In the other semifinal, Strawberry Crest earned an ugly victory over Armwood, 46-45.
Senior guard Brandon Channer’s 23-point effort helped the Chargers overcome a woeful 3-point shooting night.
4A-9: Crusaders out
At Berkeley Prep, No. 3-seeded Sarasota Booker pulled off the initial shocker of the postseason, rallying from a 13-point first-period deficit for a 60-56 victory against Tampa Catholic.
The Crusaders (16-9) won both regular-season meetings, by seven- and 20-point margins. Booker faces Berkeley Prep for the district title at 7 p.m. Friday.
Chivarsky Corbett scored 22 to lead TC, which led 15-2 after the first period but watched the Tornadoes explode for 22 second-period points to trail by only three at halftime.
Staff writer Joey Knight and correspondents Bryan Burns, Steve Lee and Andy Warrener contributed to this report.