Fort Myers Bishop Verot had a firm grasp on momentum Saturday night when St. Petersburg Catholic coach Mike Moran huddled together his team for one more overtime session.
"We've been here before," Moran said as SPC prepared for four extra minutes in the Class region final.
The Barons edged top-ranked and defending state champion Florida Air in two overtimes in Tuesday's region semifinal. And the experience served them well.
SPC won another heart-stopper, holding off the resilient Vikings 64-60 to advance to the state final four for the third straight season.
The third-ranked Barons (27-3) face No. 4 Boca Raton St. Andrew's (28-1) on Wednesday at The Lakeland Center in Lakeland. SPC fell 64-59 to Florida Air in last year's 3A semis. Boca Raton beat West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman 47-40 on Saturday.
"I think this is our best chance (at a state title)," said senior guard Aaron Holmes, who led all scorers with 32 points, including 22 after halftime. "Hopefully, our toughest games are behind us."
This one didn't look like the thriller it wound up being as Bishop Verot (22-7) struggled mightily from the field during the first three quarters and trailed by 12 entering the fourth.
But Vikings guard Reed Baker, a Citadel recruit, turned it on in the fourth, pouring in 13 of his 26 points - including 11 during a one-minute, 18-second stretch - as Bishop Verot outscored SPC 25-13 in the quarter.
"Every one of us had the confidence we could come back," said Vikings guard Brent Wood, who scored 15 for Bishop Verot. "It was just a matter of some shots falling that hadn't been falling all night."
Rather than bow to Bishop Verot's valiant comeback, the Barons regrouped and scored the first seven points of overtime to go ahead 61-54. Wiry SPC guard Noah Cumby, who buried seven of his 12 points in overtime, clinched the victory with four free throws down the stretch.
"I'm exhausted," Moran said. "(Today) will be a good day off for us."
Grady Jorgensen scored 11 for SPC, while forward Ed Rolax added nine points and 10 rebounds.