LAKELAND — With one swat Saturday, Patric Young introduced himself to the Tampa Prep Terrapins. Six more blocks and several shot alterations later, the 6-foot-9 Jacksonville Providence center was bidding them farewell.
Had his Terrapins exited somberly and silently after that first block, veteran coach Joe Fenlon might have buried his face beneath his lapels.
But against the state's top-ranked Class 2A team and one of its top big men, the only dive his squad took Saturday was for loose balls.
Turns out Young, a University of Florida signee, could reject the Terps (25-5), but he couldn't deject them.
"I'm as happy as you can be after losing," Fenlon said after his team's 63-46 defeat in the Class 2A final at the Lakeland Center. "And I've got to be honest with you, it's because of the way we lost. We lost fighting, we lost attacking, we lost in a way we've won games.
"We just ran into a team that was really good today."
Facing a club rife with Division I-caliber talent, including Kentucky signee Stacey Poole (12 points, nine rebounds), the Terps needed a perfect performance Saturday. All they could muster was a gritty one.
Tampa Prep outrebounded the Stallions 39-34 and annihilated them on the offensive glass (22-10). Yet the Terps never led and shot only 29 percent from the floor, thanks in part to the presence of Young (13 points, seven blocks).
"A mini-Dwight Howard," Tampa Prep senior Jay Bowie (18 points) said of Young. "If he was a little taller he'd probably be in the NBA right now."
Young asserted himself at the outset, blocking a Bowie shot in the lane on Tampa Prep's second possession. After one quarter, he had three blocks and six points, the final two of which were part of a 9-0 Stallions run that gave them an 18-7 lead.
"I think in the first quarter Patric Young really took it to us a little more than what I was expecting," Fenlon said.
A couple of Bowie baskets triggered an 8-2 Terps run that cut their deficit to 20-15, but Providence scored the final nine points of the half, with Young accounting for the last five.
Tampa Prep never came within 13 points from there. When Bowie drained his second 3-pointer of the fourth period to cut the Terps' deficit to 50-36, Fenlon remained hopeful of a last-gasp rally similar to the one Port St. Joe staged against his club in Friday's 49-48 semifinal victory.
But Providence (31-1) sank 15 of 18 free throws in the final period. For the game, the Stallions shot 41 free throws to Tampa Prep's 10, and they were whistled for 11 fouls to the Terps' 27.
Those numbers prompted Fenlon to quip, "I didn't realize we were so physical until today."
Saturday, physicality was accompanied by fortitude.
"I know all of us can say we gave all our effort," Bowie said.