TAMPA — Every day after practice, Lennard junior Diontae Johnson practices free throws for 10 minutes in anticipation of moments such as the one he faced late in the Class 6A, District 9 final against Jefferson, Saturday night at Hillsborough.
With the Longhorns up one with 28 seconds left, Johnson made two free throws. After a Jefferson turnover and another free throw by Caelen Watts, Lennard outlasted Jefferson for a 73-69 victory and the school's first district title.
"My heart was beating pretty hard right there," Johnson said. "In my mind, I was like, 'Please don't miss.' But I took my time, followed through and they went in."
Jefferson (21-7) led by four with 3:31 to go behind Tamir Blackshear, who scored 21 of his team-high 23 after the break. Lennard (22-4) wouldn't go away mainly because of a trapping, high-pressure defense that forced 30 turnovers. Gary Hector (16 points) hit a basket to cut the deficit to two, and on the Longhorns' next possession, Watts (game-high 25) hit a bucket and free throw for a one-point lead with 2:48 left.
Jefferson retook the lead, but Johnson's 3-pointer put Lennard ahead for good.
"I just took my time and used the same confidence I do every day in practice," Johnson said.
Maurice Moore's steal and layup got Jefferson within one. The Dragons forced another steal but missed a second layup. Johnson hit his two free throws, and the Dragons turned the ball over on two straight possessions.
"Defense is a staple of our program," Lennard coach Danny Gaddis said. "That's what we preach."
Lennard led by five at halftime and throughout the third quarter. Jefferson clawed back in the fourth behind Blackshear, who tied the score early in the fourth on a three-point play.
3A-7: Durham's 29 lift Terps past Phoenix
TAMPA — Brooks-DeBartolo was game, but host Tampa Prep was on its game, riding hot outside shooting and 29 points from Juwan Durham to a 73-53 win in the Class 3A, District 7 final.
Durham scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, six on dunks, after the Phoenix, down 19, rallied.
The Phoenix (19-8), though, are headed to the playoffs for the first time. It opens at Lakeland Christian, a team it beat by 20 last week, on Thursday.
The Terps (23-3) host Fort Meade (7-14) on Thursday.
"We're getting into a nice, little groove," Tampa Prep point guard Yoni Wasser said. "We have a chance to go pretty far."
Especially if the Terps shoot like Saturday. They made 21 of their first 32 shots to lead 57-38 through three quarters. Then they missed their first seven of the fourth as Brooks-DeBartolo pulled within 12.
But the Phoenix missed two technical free throws, followed by a Durham block and dunk. Later, he took an alley-oop from Amari Goulbourne for a 65-48 lead.
Durham's night ended after a 360 dunk on a breakaway.
"It was either going to be a windmill or a 360," he said. "I told my teammates I was going to do something special if I had the chance."
Up 31-27 with a minute to go in the first half, Tampa Prep put up four quick points. Then it did its damage from the 3-point arc, getting three from three different players to lead by 15 early in the third. They were Tampa Prep's only 3-pointers of the night.
Durham added 10 rebounds. Michael Fridella had 16 points and Taz Strauch scored 11 for the Terps. For the Phoenix, Jio Molina scored 16 and Jarred Anderson 13.
Times correspondent Darek Sharp contributed to this report.