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TAMPA — Playing in front of a standing-room-only crowd, Tampa Prep stood tall Saturday.
Marshall Holmes’ free throw with 6.6 seconds remaining, his only point of the game, was the difference as the Terrapins outlasted Orlando First Academy 46-45 for the Class 3A, Region 2 boys basketball championship.
But Tampa Prep’s eighth trip to the state final four wasn’t officially booked until Tyler Coons’ uncontested 3-pointer attempt on the game’s final shot bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Tampa Prep (29-1) never trailed against First Academy (25-5), the team that defeated the Terrapins in last year’s state semifinals. Tampa Prep next will play Jacksonville Providence .
“I thought (Coons’ shot) was going in,” Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon said. “I always think the opponents’ shots are going in. I’m just so happy for my kids. They’ve worked so hard. Forget about the record. (Going to the final four) is just a goal they really wanted to achieve.”
Two Coons layups, the last with 1:10 left, tied the game.
With Josh Heath (15 points) handling the ball, Tampa Prep played for the last shot. After a second timeout, Holmes was fouled by Tay Akers while receiving the inbound pass from Heath. Holmes made the first free throw and missed the second, setting the stage for the final shot.
“I just concentrated, tried to block the crowd out and looked at the middle of the rim (on the first free throw),” Holmes said.
Adonis Rwabigwi scored 10 for Tampa Prep. Dillon Graham, a Florida signee, led First Academy with 16 points.