WESLEY CHAPEL — Zephyrhills went on a 17-0 run to build a commanding 40-23 lead in Friday's Class 6A, District 6 championship game. But Ridgewood clawed back and took a 57-56 lead on Giovanni Charles' baseline fadeaway with 12 seconds left. Aliza Quiles hit a running jumper in the lane with seven seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 58-57 win and their second straight district title.
"The coach put it in my hands. I had to step up and do it," Quiles said.
"He's the guy who's carried us," Zephyrhills coach Mike Novak said of Quiles, who scored a game-high 16 points. "Who else are you going to get the ball to in a big game?"
Ridgewood (18-10) followed Zephyrhills' run with a 10-3 spurt and kept chipping away, twice pulling within a point down the stretch before taking just their second lead of the game on Charles' shot in the waning seconds. Following Quiles' go-ahead basket, Darrin Bright's 3-point attempt at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
"It was bedlam, wasn't it?" Novak said. "That's the nature of Ridgewood. They can make a run at you. They kept battling."
Both teams lost a starter with Zephyrhills forward Dre'wan Clarke leaving early in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and Ridgewood guard Ty Quiroz going out after injuring his left foot midway through the fourth. Both watched the rest of the game from the benches with ice packs taped to their injured areas.
Each team had a trio of scorers in double figures. Aside from Quiles, Kurt Robbins and Anthony Antoine each added 12 points. For Ridgewood, Bright scored a team-leading 14 with Will Dawson adding 12 and Charles 11.