Wharton held tough with Lake Howell through the first quarter, then The Wildcats were run around, through and over.
In eight minutes of the second quarter the Wildcats were outscored 23-3 - with the three coming seconds before the half ended. It was a run from which they never recovered.
Final score: Lake Howell 72, Wharton 43.
Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli said it was more a case of poor shooting on his team's part than Lake Howell's all-out dominance.
"I really can't find fault with our shot selection in the second quarter," Tonelli said. "But for the most part they were good looks. They just wouldn't drop."
It also wasn't a case of Lake Howell taking control with its all-star backcourt of Nick Calathes and Joey Rodriguez, committed to the University of Massachusetts and Florida, respectively. The duo was held to nine total points in the first half and just 20 overall.
Much of the Wildcats' trouble, in fact, came from Lake Howell's post players.
"We knew going in that we had to contain Calathes and Rodriguez and we did a pretty good job of that, holding the two of them to a total of 20 points," Tonelli said. "They're big guys were very good. They are very talented team and deserve a lot of credit."
Wharton (23-7) cut the gap to 13 points in the third quarter, but Lake Howell followed with nine unanswered.
Still, "It was that second quarter that was the undoing of us. We seemed to lose focus," Wharton center Leonard Simmons said.
Shawn Noble, who hit the 3-pointer for the Wildcats just before the half, was Wharton's high scorer with 11 points.
"Tonight was a disappointment for us, for sure," Noble said. "The good thing is that we (our starting lineup) return next year. So we'll be back, you wait and see."