FORT MYERS — Tampa Catholic senior guard Lashawn Harrison is accustomed to hitting big shots.
With the Crusaders facing their biggest game in 11 years in Saturday's Class 3A region final at Bishop Verot, their leading scorer didn't disappoint.
Harrison poured in a game-high 24 points, including five 3-pointers — two in the final four minutes — as Tampa Catholic held off Bishop Verot 57-54.
"He has really worked so hard on his shot," TC coach Don Dziagwa said of Harrison. "He's so quick going to the basket that teams can't just play up on him. He's playing like a true senior point guard is supposed to play."
Because of that, Tampa Catholic (21-8) is headed to Lakeland for the first time since 2000. The Crusaders face Orlando Jones (21-6) Wednesday.
After a slow start against the Vikings (22-8), TC exploded for 24 second-quarter points, turning an eight-point deficit into a 29-24 halftime lead. The Crusaders buried six 3-pointers during the surge, including three in succession by Harrison.
Tampa Catholic found itself in foul trouble, however, in the second half and fell behind 44-43 with 4:14 to play. Harrison immediately answered with another 3, and the Crusaders never trailed the rest of the way.
The victory wasn't secure until Bishop Verot senior guard Jason Hoop's 3-point attempt bounced away at the buzzer.
"We're a tough team," Harrison said. "We haven't given up all year and we didn't (Saturday)."
Dan Deluca, special to the Times