TAMPA — It took longer than it initially appeared it would but Blake is moving on to the Class 5A, District 10 championship game.
The Yellow Jackets went through a range of emotions Friday, first setting the stage for a blowout, then suffering a huge collapse before late-game heroics and a decisive extra frame earned them a win.
When it was all over, Blake had outlasted Plant for a wild 82-74 win in overtime. Hillsborough topped Chamberlain 55-51 in the other semifinal.
Blake's win seemed guaranteed in the first half, especially as the sharp-shooting Yellow Jackets (20-6) jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
With Blake's Andre Smith and Plant's Sheldon Cooley virtually trading shot for shot, Blake's margin was maintained into the second half. Blake owned a 12-point lead with a minute left in the third period.
But things quickly changed.
In a span of a little more than six minutes, Cooley scored six and Michael Frazier added six also to spark Plant (15-9) to a 22-10 run that tied the game at 56. From that point, the teams battled back and forth until a Plant steal and Cooley layup gave Plant a 68-65 lead and, seemingly, the game.
But Smith hit a 3-pointer from just inside half court with 2.9 second on the clock to send the contest to an extra period and rejuvenate the Yellow Jackets. Blake outscored Plant 14-6 in the overtime period to claim the win.
Smith, who hit five 3-pointers, scored 33 to lead Blake. Cooley led Plant with 32 points while Frazier added 18 and Kingston Bems scored nine.