TAMPA — Sickles drifted into halftime Thursday, leading but unable to shake a Kathleen team that wasn’t shooting the ball well. And it seemed like the Gryphons’ recent trend of ducking out in the first round was in danger of continuing.
Apparently there was no drifting in Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia’s halftime address. Sickles began the third quarter on a 10-0 run and went on to a 54-36 win in the Class 8A region quarterfinals, ending a streak of first-round departures at three.
"Garcia gave us a little talk at halftime," said Sickles’ Bryce Beamer, who had 11 of his 14 points after halftime. "The message was to give it our all."
Mixed in, some tremendous offensive game planning. Sickles was practically flawless for most of the quarter, hitting eight of its first nine shots. Bryce Workman, the 6-foot-7 junior who was unstoppable with 19 points and nine rebounds, scored eight in the quarter.
Workman capped off a four-point trip to give Sickles a 40-23 lead with 2:40 left in the quarter.
"We had some plays we wanted to run out of halftime. When we see a mismatch with him we like to try and take advantage of it," Garcia said.
Tahj Lalanne, who Garcia said can get "lost in the shuffle" among Sickles’ top scorers, hit a pair of 3-pointers during the big run for all of his scoring output. And point guard Marcus Cohen, returning after picking up his third foul midway through the second quarter, had two assists in the stretch, ending with seven.
In all it was a pretty good quarter. Sickles did not commit a foul. Cohen, scoreless at halftime, finished it off with a driving layup for a 43-23 lead to give Sickles more points in the quarter (22) than it had in the first half (21).
Kathleen’s Je’Shaun Dias led his team with 12 points, including two impressive turnaround dunks. He had eight in the first half as Kathleen, despite shooting just 8-for-29, hung around. Sickles’ biggest lead, 16-10, was followed by Cohen getting the third foul; Garcia made his first sub at that point. Andrew Oquendo sank a 3 off the bench that made it 21-14 but Dias grabbed four late offensive rebounds that allowed Kathleen to finish with momentum.
"Kathleen’s a good team. They brought that Polk County mentality. We call them ‘Dawgs’, that’s our phrase," Beamer said.
But Cohen fed Workman immediately for one of his seven layups, Lalanne nailed a 3, Beamer took an inside pass from Cohen and Lalanne made his second from long range. When Cohen’s steal and basket while being fouled made it 47-28 early in the fourth, the game was clinched. Beamer scored seven in the fourth.
Denari Garrett added six points and seven rebounds for Sickles, which shot 14-for-22 in the second half and 53 percent overall. Sophomore guard James Harrison had 11 off the bench for Kathleen.
Now, the real test: Bartow comes to Sickles on Tuesday night.
"We respect them a lot. We have a history with Bartow, unfortunately not a very successful one from our standpoint," said Garcia. Bartow beat Sickles in the 2010 state finals and dropped them from the playoffs in 2014.
Sickles has made the postseason 12 straight seasons, but if it wants to replicate that 2010 run, it will need some help.
"We had a great home crowd tonight, probably the best all year. But we need it even better Tuesday. We need to advertise that one," Beamer said.