Saturday, December 16, 2017

Newsome ousts top seed Plant

TAMPA — With Newsome huddled in the game's final timeout, Colton Stafford broke away and stared at the scoreboard, not once, but twice. Each time, he smiled and pumped a fist.

Less than a minute later, the upset would be complete in what third-year coach Barry Jacobs called "the biggest win since I've been here."

Newsome, the No. 4 seed, stunned top-seeded Plant 47-36 Wednesday in a Class 8A, District 7 semifinal at Alonso, putting the Wolves in Friday's championship against No. 2 Wharton, a 51-46 winner against third-seeded Bloomingdale.

The Wolves (16-8) overcame an 11-point second-quarter deficit with a suffocating defense. After scoring 17 in the first quarter on 7-of-12 shooting, Plant (19-7) managed only 19 points the rest of the way and missed 27 of 33 field goal attempts, including all 11 in the final quarter. Stafford's layup, his second and final bucket, gave Newsome the lead for good at 36-34 with five minutes remaining.

"I have a great bench, and I used a lot of my guys," Jacobs said. "I told the guys to just keep your composure, and each position is going to count, offensively and defensively."

Plant's only points in the fourth quarter came on two free throws by Andrew Sanders, who finished with 15 points.

Hayden Harkins led Newsome with 15 points and Anthony Gamble added 10.

"We believed (Wednesday) might be our last game together, so we wanted to give it our all," said Harkins, a senior forward. "We knew that if we put the pressure (on Plant), and made them rush shots and rush passes, we could get in their head. It worked."

Wharton (18-6) got 17 points from Scott Sollazzo, including five 3-pointers, as Bloomingdale (20-7) got into early foul trouble. The Bulls trailed 45-43 with 1:30 left and had chances to tie on back-to-back possessions. But they missed two field-goal attempts and a pair of free throws as Wharton held on.

"(Coach) Tommy Tonelli told us two stories before the game for motivation," Sollazzo said. "He said we had to play as a team, and he told us a story about his father and son and asked that we play like one stick, one family, one team. When we weren't producing, I had to come up and help the team."

7A-8: Sickles (16-10) had no problem with Steinbrenner 75-60, and Freedom (15-6) built a big lead and coasted past Wiregrass Ranch 58-32 as both earned region berths with wins in the 7A-8 semifinals.

The last time both teams advanced past district in the same year was 2005. Since then, the Patriots haven't been back, and Sickles hasn't missed.

"I'm proud of the kids," Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. "That's a decade of playoffs for us."

Sickles and Steinbrenner (8-16) both struggled with shooting in the first quarter, going a combined 6-for-32 from the field, but guard Isaac Holder got hot in the second quarter for the Gryphons. Holder hit a pair of 3-pointers and a lay-in in the first few minutes of the second quarter, helping Sickles open a 30-15 halftime lead. The junior hit two more 3s in the third quarter to finish with 19 points.

"The last month, Isaac has been shooting lights-out," Garcia said. "When he gets set, he's a pretty deadly shooter."

Sickles held the county's leading scorer, Keshaun Ingram, to nine points through three quarters. Ingram, who scored 40 in the Warriors' first-round win and averages 30, finished with 23.

Freedom held Wiregrass Ranch (11-15) to only six points in each of the first two quarters to open up a 33-12 halftime lead, but it watched half of that advantage slip away in the third quarter before the Patriots stymied the comeback attempt.

Sheldon Odunna led the Patriots with 17 points.

6A-9: Lennard defeated Chamberlain 74-71 in an overtime thriller to advance to the district final Saturday against top-seeded Jefferson, a 74-48 winner over King.

"We outlasted them," Lennard coach Danny Gaddis said. "That's perseverance."

Tied at 65 through regulation, Lennard (21-4) took a 72-67 lead in overtime on a Caelen Watts layup and three free throws by Darren Girod. Chamberlain cut the deficit to 72-71 on a Christian Wise layup with 56 seconds left, but the Longhorns clinched it when Gary Hector (game-high 19 points) made both free throws in the final seconds.

Ron Blount led Chamberlain (18-8) with 17.

Jefferson (21-6) was its own worse enemy against King (8-14), turning the ball over 22 times in the first half. But Jefferson outscored the Lions 34-9 in the final quarter to pull away.

Tamir Blackshear and Vernon Jackson each had 16 points for Jefferson. King's Rashad Green scored a game-high 22.

5A-9: Middleton hung with Robinson for a while before the Knights pulled away for a 67-56 semifinal win that sets up a district final against Jesuit.

"We made the plays when we had to down the stretch," Robinson coach Steve Smith said.

The Knights (17-9) led by six at the half, but Middleton chipped away behind Dontez Hardy Jr., who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.

The game was tied in the final four minutes but Robinson sank all 15 of its free throws in the fourth to seal the win. Robinson's Cody Brown scored a team-high 16.

Jesuit dominated Spoto 64-23 as junior Christian Whidden clinched a playoff spot for the host Tigers (17-8) with 30 points, including eight 3-pointers.

4A-10: Host Tampa Catholic trailed early before blowing out Sarasota Booker 76-54 in a district semifinal.

Kevin Knox led Tampa Catholic (15-11) with 22 points, and Delaware signee Chivarsky Corbett scored 20 as the Crusaders qualified for the playoffs.

Berkeley Prep (23-3) cruised to an 88-25 win over Sarasota Military Academy in the other semifinal. Berkeley Prep senior Craig Bowman scored a team-high 21.

Times staff writers John C. Cotey, Matt Baker and correspondent Steve Lee contributed to this report.


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