Thursday, January 18, 2018

Buzzer-beater propels Lennard

RUSKIN — Robert Gant picked a dramatic time for his only basket of the game, a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave Lennard a 54-51 win over Mitchell in a Class 6A region quarterfinal Thursday.

Coach Danny Gaddis set up a play for Caelen Watts, who scored a game-high 15. But Mitchell's trap forced Watts to pass to Gant at the top of the arc.

"It breaks down," Gaddis said. "And Gant was there."

It has been a historic season for the Longhorns (23-4). They followed their first district title with their first playoff win.

"This whole run, that's the whole community," said Gaddis, who is in his fifth season at Lennard.

Mitchell (22-6) led 22-14 in the first quarter and 27-21 at the half.

"Every team has a run," Gaddis said. "They happened to have theirs out of the gate, and we withstood their best punch."

The score was tied at 46 and 48. And Bernie Conley's driving layup for Mitchell tied it at 51 with 1:01 left. Lennard let the clock wind down for Gant's shot.

"Time was going down, so I had to shoot it," said Gant, one of the Longhorns' six seniors. "Everybody came to me after and started jumping up and down. It was crazy."

Class 6A

Largo 81, Jefferson 66: Donavan Hale scored 33 for the host Packers. The Dragons (21-7) trailed by 10 early but kept it close for the rest of the half.

"We just got out of rhythm in the second quarter," Hale said. "We had too many turnovers. We knew in the second half we just had to come out and play Largo basketball."

By the fourth, Largo (25-2) led by 18.

Maurice Moore led Jefferson, which earned its first playoff berth since 2006, with 20 points. Tamir Blackshear had 15.

"We got up, but Jefferson had a lot of fight in them," Largo coach Phil Price said. "They were tough.

"We had to work to get back to what we needed to do to win."

Class 5A

Gibbs 60, Jesuit 45: With the score 31-31, the visiting Gladiators opened the second half with an 18-4 run.

Gibbs (18-4) held the Tigers' vaunted long-range attack to 2-of-10 on 3-pointers in the second half, and the two Kyle Sahlsten made were from beyond 25 feet. The Tigers (18-9) rarely got an uncontested look.

"Coach told us all week they attempt at least 30 3s a game and we needed to cut that down to 15," said Gibbs' Barry Brown, who led all scorers with 22. "Then he told us we needed to make those 15 3s contested 3s."

Enter Shaquille Speights, who returned Thursday after breaking his right hand in January. Without him, Gibbs went 4-6. His job was to shut down Christian Whidden. Whidden had made 81 3-pointers, including 27 over the past four games, but was held without one for just the third time this season.

"My favorite thing to do is play defense, so I wanted to lock him up," Speights said.

Sahlsten led the Tigers with 11 points.

Lakewood 85, Robinson 59: A 15-1 second-quarter run put host Lakewood up by 18, and it cruised from there. "There are not too many teams that have the size we have," Spartans coach Anthony Lawrence said. Robinson experienced that as 6-foot-4 Jacobi Boykins and 6-foot-7 Anthony Lawrence Jr. combined for 51 points, most on dunks or layups in transition. Robinson (17-11) cut it to 10 but got no closer. Iyan Mitchell led Robinson with 13 points while Travis Forehand and Mike Cholas had 12 and 10, respectively.

Class 4A

Avon Park 74, Tampa Cath. 70 (OT): The visiting Crusaders squandered a 13-point lead in the fourth then fell in overtime. Down 55-42 entering the fourth, Avon Park chipped away. It hit back-to-back 3-pointers. The Crusaders (15-13) turned it over twice late in the fourth, both leading to baskets. TC didn't make a field goal in overtime and missed 10 of 20 free throws overall. Chivarsky Corbett led TC with 22 points. Thomas Dziagwa finished with 19 and Sam Harris 17.

Class 3A

Tampa Prep 68, Fort Meade 28: In 1994, 3-20 Fort Meade upset host Tampa Prep in the region playoffs. For the first half, at least, visions of that loss haunted Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon as the Miners (7-14) gobbled up offensive rebounds and kept it close. But midway through the third, the Terrapins began a 22-0 run that sealed it.

"Any time at regionals, the first few minutes are always interesting. This time, it lasted until the half," Fenlon said. "When you deal with high school kids who've been at school all day, you don't know exactly how they're going to come out."

The Terrapins went on a 7-0 run to end the first half then erupted in the third quarter. Amari Goulbourne hit a 3-pointer to start the run. Yoni Wasser knocked another one down. Then sophomore Juwan Durham got going, ripping down rebounds and sending the ball up the court for transition baskets.

When Durham logged his ninth blocked shot, he was called to the bench with most of the other starters. Durham also had a game-high 19 points. Goulbourne had 15.

Brooks DeBartolo 66, Lakeland Chr. 55: The Phoenix (20-8) continued its best season in school history with a road win in its first playoff game. Michael Obi scored a season-high 35 on 14-of-19 shooting. Brenden Huynh added 14 for the Phoenix, and Jarred Anderson pitched in 12 to help complete its first 20-win season.

Class 2A

Bayshore Chr. 60, Cambridge Chr. 46: The host Faith Warriors earned their first playoff win in six years. Up 42-36, they outscored Cambridge (17-9) 18-10 in the fourth for their third straight double-digit win. Eric Davis had eight points and 26 rebounds for the Faith Warriors (24-3). Matthew Eckermann and Josh Humphries added 14 points.

Times staff writers Matt Baker, John C. Cotey and Bob Putnam and correspondents Anthony Salveggi and Andy Warrener contributed to this report.


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