With Lake Wales Vanguard's top player absent, Seffner Christian's Class A region quarterfinal rematch against the Panthers quickly regressed from anticipated to anticlimactic Thursday.
The Crusaders (16-8) got 18 points from senior forward Devin Paularinne and 10 from classmate Colin Dehate in a 66-37 romp. Vanguard was playing without 5-foot-10 junior Josie Balentine, whose 18.7-point average leads the team.
In last year's quarterfinals, Balentine sank a coast-to-coast buzzer-beating layup to top the Crusaders 75-74. According to SCA coach Roger Duncan, Balentine was suspended Thursday for disciplinary reasons.
"To be honest, we came out flat because we were all revved up to stop him," Duncan said.
The triumph sets up a fourth Crusaders matchup with Bradenton Christian in Tuesday's region semifinals. The Crusaders (16-8) topped the Panthers by five in Saturday's District 8 final after losing to them twice during the regular season.
Joey Knight, Times staff writer