TAMPA — Sickles was in survival mode. What had started as a one-sided mismatch had become a one-possession grudge match. Each errant fourth-quarter possession seemed to sap a bit more oxygen from the Gryphons' postseason life.
So they reached for their stocky, savvy life preserver: Jordan Davis. The senior point guard sank four free throws in the final 32.9 seconds and fended off Punta Gorda Charlotte's furious full-court press just enough to help the Gryphons escape with a 42-37 region semifinal triumph Tuesday night.
The Gryphons (27-2) host Clearwater in their first region final Saturday. And coach Renaldo Garcia had six words to describe how his team reached this unprecedented point.
"Jordan Davis, Jordan Davis, Jordan Davis," Garcia said. "Any time in a game like that, when you have a point guard who's talented and battle tested, we just felt extremely comfortable putting the ball in his hands."
The Gryphons seemed on the brink of squandering what had been an 11-point first-half lead.
Sickles, which entered the fourth with a 35-29 lead, committed turnovers on its first four possessions. It didn't score until Eric Floyd's interior basket with 2:30 to play and missed its first four free throws of the quarter.
"We broke their press," said Davis, who finished with a game-high 21. "But people dribbling to the corner and trying to throw it back out, that's a tough pass. A couple of balls got tipped and we didn't control it very well."
Charlotte (25-4) converted the Gryphons' quartet of turnovers into only one point and went 3-for-8 from the line in the fourth. Still, Nick Goshay's 3 made it a one-possession game, 37-34, with 50.6 seconds to play. From there, Davis and junior Rashawn Rembert (13 points) teamed to go 5-for-7 from the line. Davis' final two came with 1.1 seconds to go.
"We did just enough at the end to get out of here with a win," Garcia said. "That was a great team and my hat goes off to them."