ST. PETERSBURG — Every coach wants to have a team peak around playoff time.
Admiral Farragut is doing just that.
The Blue Jackets advanced to the region finals for the first time since 2004 when it won the Class 2A state title by beating St. John Neumann on Tuesday in a 57-22 blowout . Max Eaton led the Blue Jackets with a season-high 16 points and Joe Lampley added 13 as every player on the roster contributed in the scoring column.
The Blue Jackets held the Celtics’ leading scorer, Frank Bennett, to four points after the senior guard scored 27 in the region quarterfinals against Shorecrest. The Celtics were led by Josh Hardy, who had six points.
“We’re starting to hit our stride, which is what you want as a coach at this time of the year,” Blue Jackets coach Sylvio Brutus said. “We had just three returning players and the rest are newcomers so it took us a while to find the chemistry. We began clicking somewhere around January and now we are playing on all cylinders. We had a really good game defensively against Community School and we followed that up with another outstanding defensive effort against Neumann.”
The Blue Jackets (15-6) turned a 6-5 deficit midway through the first quarter into a 15-8 lead going into the second period by converting second-chance opportunities and creating points off turnovers.
AFA finished with a 27-16 advantage on the boards and forced 22 turnovers while committing just six.
AFA took a 25-14 lead into halftime and ended any upset bid by the visitors by holding the Celtics (13-15) to eight points in the second half while scoring 32 on 12-of-17 shooting from the field. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Blue Jackets did not miss during a 14-3 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers by Eaton.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going into the next game and it says something about our team that we have five or six guys who can score at will,” said Eaton, who added eight rebounds.