FORT MYERS — Seffner Christian took a loss but gained a great lesson all in one game on Friday night.
The Crusaders fell 63-55 to Plantation American Heritage in the semifinals of the Diamond Division of the Queen of the Palms tournament. But coach Greg Fawbush noted the exposure to a larger program, which plays in Class 5A, was a worthwhile lesson for Seffner Christian, which will now vie for third place in the division.
"I'm proud of how hard we played against a very talented team," Fawbush said of his Class 3A team. "In a way, we needed this experience because it taught us how to handle adversity. To be honest, we needed the lesson because we haven't had a lot of adversity."
Seffner plays Orlando Lake Highland Prep, a 4A program, in the third-place game at 3 p.m. today at Dunbar High. Lake Highland lost to Winter Haven in the other division semifinal.
"The difference in the game was that American Heritage made their shots," Fawbush said. "We were prepared (Thursday), but we weren't as prepared (Friday). But still, I thought we played well.
"As we left the court, the American Heritage players said to some of us, 'You've got a pretty good team.' It feels good to have some respect from the big boys out there."
FREEDOM 58, PALM BEACH CENTRAL 56: The Patriots punched their ticket to the Emerald Division final by holding off a late rally by the Cardinal. Freedom meets Bartow at 8 tonight. Bartow defeated Viera in the other division semifinal.
The Patriots got a few free throws late in the game to seal the deal.
Faith Woodard had 32 points, and Taylor Emery had 21.
"This was, by far, the best team we've played all year," Freedom coach Laurie Pacholke said. "I'm proud of our girls. This game was a challenge speed-wise and athletically.
"In the end, we were able to do what we needed to to win the game."
Pacholke called the game a "matchup of great sophomores," Emery and Palm Beach Central's Devin Gray.
"We rely on tournaments like this to get our team playoff-ready," Pacholke said. "This kind of competition, in a way, is like nothing we face in the regular season. We've come down here ready to play, and it's working out well."