TAMPA — On paper it looked like a mismatch.
Avon Park had a huge advantage in size and depth. Tampa Catholic was missing Lashawn Harrison, its leading rebounder and starting point guard. But the Crusaders kept it close until the end, losing 53-48 in the Class 3A region quarterfinals Thursday.
David Gonzalez, in his first game back from injury, led Tampa Catholic (21-7) with 22 points but missed a tough layup with just under two minutes left that would have cut Avon Park's lead to three. Instead, the Red Devils (24-3) made a couple of free throws to close it out.
The Crusaders were outscored 16-7 in the third. All but two of their 16 points came on layups.
Harrison, who turned his right ankle in practice Wednesday, took part in warmups but was unable to go.
"He is really our go-to guy," coach Don Dziagwa said. "And we really didn't have much time to adjust to not having him."
Todd Foley, Times correspondent