Coach Herman Valdes of Bayshore Christian will get another shot at a state championship. His Faith Warriors made sure of that by whipping Fort Myers Canterbury School for the third time this season, 75-59.
This time it was for the championship of the Class B, Region III boys basketball tournament Saturday night at the Pinellas Park High School gym. The Faith Warriors will play Wednesday in a state semifinal at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center against Pompano Beach Highlands Christian, a 63-41 winner over North Miami Beach Samuel Scheck Hillel.
Valdes has been to the state tournament seven times during his 30-year coaching career, five times in 12 years at Bayshore, but never came away with a championship.
"I feel just like the Buffalo Bills," he said, "but all the other coaches around the state know that I have at least been there."
But it took almost three quarters of play before his heavily favored Bayshore (31-5) squad put away the scrappy Cougars. Canterbury (15-17), which had been earlier beaten by 22 and 40 points by Bayshore, had a 19-17 lead as late as 5:29 to go in the first half.
It was just 26-22 for Bayshore at halftime as Canterbury went through a five-minute field goal drought. With 6:30 to play in the third period, the Warriors held only a seven-point margin.
However, the big front-liners for Bayshore finally wore down the Cougars and came up with an 8-0 surge at the finish of the period for a 51-34 lead and the ballgame.
Six-foot-6 Johnathan Johnson, with 29 points, and 6-9 Tavares White, with 20, were the scoring leaders for Bayshore.
Canterbury had only 6-9 sophomore Mike O'Neill to counter the Bayshore height, which includes two other players 6-6 or taller. O'Neill was the only player on his squad over 6-2.
Ryan Raufus, with 21 points, including four three-pointers and Eban Barnett with 17 points led the Cougars.
Boys basketball state pairings
Springfield Rutherford vs. Boca Ciega
Bradenton Southeast vs. Hallandale
Port St. Joe vs. Lake Butler Union Co.
Wildwood vs. West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman
Malone vs. West Palm Beach Gold Coast
Bayshore Christian vs. Pompano Beach Highlands Christian
Daytona Beach Mainland vs. Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson
Orlando Boone vs. Miami Northwestern
Jax Ribault vs. Lake Wales
Gainesville Eastside vs. Naples Lely
Apalachicola vs. Eatonville Wymore
Tallahassee FAMU vs. Hollywood Christian