NAPLES — Shorecrest trailed by as many as eight early on in its Class 3A region final showdown with Naples First Baptist on Friday night. But the Chargers mounted a comeback with a happy ending and a state final four berth.
Shorecrest outscored the Lions 29-13 in the third quarter en route to a 72-66 victory and the program's second region crown in three years.
"These guys are ecstatic right now," said Shorecrest coach Daryl Blume. "There's not too many times you get to go to the state final four. We have a team that sticks together — everyone. The guys that didn't play tonight are just as happy as the guys who did. It's a great thing for all of us."
The Chargers (25-4) put on a phenomenal second half and led by 15 points at one point. The Lions (22-8) got as close as four in the final four minutes. Brady Grimm was especially clutch in the final minutes, making 9-of-12 free throws to wrap it up for Shorecrest.
"We decided that (First Baptist) couldn't handle a half-court game," Blume said. "We trapped them in a lot. We were able to create a lot of turnovers, and we hung in there and played as hard as we could."
The Chargers will meet Tampa Prep at the Lakeland Center on Tuesday.
Shorecrest won the region title with pressure on defense and perimeter shooting, making eight 3-pointers against the Lions.
Grimm scored 20 points to lead Shorecrest. Marcus Blake added 14. Lorenzo Jenkins had 18 for First Baptist.
"First Baptist is a great, athletic team," Blume said. "They have a lot of guys who are 6-foot-6 or so, and we're mostly 6-1 or 6-2. Jay Joyer is really happy right now, because he'll get to play another game. He's the only guy on the team who went to the state finals two years ago."
The first half was fast-paced. Tyee Johnson and Kenny DeVaul both made 3-pointers for the Chargers to tie it at 6-6 after First Baptist took an early lead. Then the Lions went on a 9-1 run, while holding the inconsistent Shorecrest offense off the scoreboard for almost four minutes.
Trailing 15-7, the Chargers got to within one after Johnson's 3-pointer at the four-minute mark in the second quarter. It was also a two-point lead for First Baptist at halftime after Joyer's driving layup and a Lion free throw in the final minutes.
Shorecrest put together a 13-5 spurt to start the third quarter.