DURANT — Durant gave Lake Wales all it could handle for two quarters Saturday night, but the visiting Highlanders proved why they are one of the top teams in Florida with a 64-38 victory in a Class 5A boys basketball region final.
Lake Wales advances to the state semifinals against Gibbs in Lakeland later this week.
While Oshey Washington led all scorers with 23 points, the real key to the game for Lake Wales was its swarming defense.
"We pride ourselves on defense and harassing the other team's point guards," Lake Wales coach Billy D. Washington said. "We force them into making a turnover and it turns into a transition bucket for us down at the other end."
Durant point guard Adrian Nelson will likely be seeing Lake Wales defenders in his sleep for a long time, as he was routinely harassed by two, and sometimes three, Highlanders just trying to get out of his own backcourt.
"We haven't seen any teams play press like that," Durant coach Trent Tice said. "In the first half we were dealing with it and scoring, but when Andre (Nation) went out, we had no one to go to."
Nation, who had nine first-half points, got into foul trouble in the first half and began the second half on the bench. He eventually fouled out with 3 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Cougars struggled in the second half, scoring only eight points, six of them coming in the third quarter.
"Andre makes us go," Tice said. "Without him in there, we sort of fell apart. If we don't get into foul trouble, I'd like to see that game again."