TAMPA — Two gritty teams. Two overtime periods. Too many mistakes by Admiral Farragut.
Tampa Prep (25-3) forced 25 turnovers and Josh Heath scored 26 points as the fourth-ranked Terrapins outlasted AFA 52-44 Saturday night, earning their third consecutive trip to the Class 2A state tournament. Tampa Prep will play Orlando First Academy on Wednesday at the Lakeland Center.
"It was the survival of the fittest," Tampa Prep coach John Fenlon said. "It's unreal (going back to state). We graduated seven seniors last year; it's a whole different group with a whole different feel."
AFA (15-7) took a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but Tampa Prep turned up its full-court pressure defense. The Blue Jackets missed two potential winning shots in the final seconds of regulation.
In the second overtime, Tampa Prep snapped a 43-all tie as Devontae Morgan's steal led to a three-point play by Heath. It started a 9-0 run by the Terrapins and three AFA starters fouled out, including top scorer Chris Myrick (13 points, all in the first half).
"When you get late (with the basketball) and turn it over, it's a tough one to overcome," AFA coach Sylvio Brutus said. "These are the types of games high school players enjoy, coaches enjoy and fans enjoy. When you get two teams that make it to the regional finals, this is what you expect."
Alvin Cunningham added 10 points for AFA.
"Their big kids, (Daniel) Salomon and (Max) Eaton, were really, really good," Fenlon said. "(AFA) had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half."