Keswick Christian withstood a fourth-quarter charge run by Mount Dora Bible to advance with a 54-50 win.
After leading by no fewer than four points most of the game, Keswick (20-9) found itself challenged by the Bulldogs (20-10) in the final minutes. A turnaround and free throw by Izea Lovejoy cut the margin to 48-47 with one minute, 14 seconds left. Lovejoy scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the final eight minutes on a variety of twisting drives.
"(Lovejoy) could step out on the floor and handle the ball, and even shoot the 3 on occasion," Keswick coach Jack Skipper said. "We kept him under control for most of the game, but he got away from us a little bit in the fourth. Luckily, our kids stepped up when they had to."
After watching the lead get sheared to a single point, Stefan Larson broke free against the Bulldogs' trapping defense for a long inbound pass and an open layup. The Crusaders turned up the defensive pressure on the ensuing inbound pass and forced a steal, which Blake Englehardt converted into a five-point advantage (52-47) with 39 seconds to play.
Keswick put the game away seconds later by stealing another inbound pass and turning it into a basket by Stefan Larson for the Crusaders final points.
Englehardt and Ben Paul led a balanced scoring attack for the Crusaders with 14 points.
- FRANK JOLLEY,