LAKELAND — Shorecrest plays basketball as if it is a 32-minute fast break. There is no time for hand signals. Once the Chargers’ sharpshooters get the ball, they take 3-pointers from anywhere on the court.
The offense — reckless, chaotic and often fun — was a big reason Shorecrest made the Class 3A state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
On Tuesday, the Chargers did not deviate from their perimeter game. But they had trouble making outside shots, finishing 5-of-24 from 3-point range in a 64-49 loss to Tampa Prep.
“We’re going to live and die with how we play,” Shorecrest coach Daryl Blume said. “We were making shots in warmups and I thought we had good looks during the game. We just didn’t make them. It was probably our worst shooting game of the season.”
The vastness of the Lakeland Center has caused plenty of problems for teams that rely on the 3-point shot because of depth perception. The Chargers know all too well after shooting 8 percent from 3-point range (2-of-25) in a 71-49 loss to Weston Sagemont in the 2012 state semifinals.
To get acclimated to shooting in a larger arena, Blume scheduled Monday’s practice at USF.
Still, it wasn’t enough to correct their woes at the Lakeland Center. Shorecrest (25-5) missed its first eight shots Tuesday and shot 21 percent in the first half to fall behind 27-20. It was the lowest point total for the Chargers in a half this season.
Things changed early in the third quarter as Shorecrest found its shooting touch. Brady Grimm and Tyee Johnson each hit 3-pointers to ignite an 8-4 run that cut the deficit to 31-28.
The Chargers’ hot start didn’t last. The shots again went cold, and even worse, Shorecrest had no answer for the Terrapins’ Juwan Durham. The 6-foot-9 sophomore started to dominate inside by scoring on fade-away jumpers and dunks.
Durham, who was 3-of-11 shooting in the first half, made all eight shots in the second half to finish with a team-high 25 points. He also had 17 rebounds.
“I didn’t know I was 3-of-11 in the first half,” Durham said. “Coach (Joe Fenlon) gave me that look and I knew I had to wake up.”
Just as important for Tampa Prep was the play of Michael Fridella, who had 21 points and seven rebounds.
The win was special for Fridella, a former player at St. Petersburg Catholic who routinely lost to the Chargers before joining the Terrapins.
“That’s actually the team I hate the most in all of Florida,” said Fridella, who lost to Shorecrest five straight times before the Barons won last season’s district final.
In the fourth quarter, the Terrapins and their inside game turned what was a close game into a commanding lead during the last four minutes.
Grimm, who was averaging 23 points per game, led Shorecrest with 17 points.
“We had cut it down to three points at one point, and I thought if we could make a couple right there we could have an opportunity even as poor as we shot,” Blume said. “But we started missing a couple and we started pressing after that.”
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.