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Business first, then the fun can begin

They hugged their parents on the court.

In the locker room, they hooted and hollered. And on the ride back to Tampa after defeating No. 1-ranked Largo on Saturday night, many Chamberlain players followed the lead of the team's top scorer, senior shooting guard James Devlin.

"I smiled the whole way home," Devlin said.

But the party didn't last long.

Two days later, Chamberlain was back to work. And, Chiefs coach Doug Aplin said, that's just how his team likes it.

"They work hard every day," Aplin said. "Effort has never been a problem with these guys."

Chamberlain's blend of talent and desire has landed the Chiefs (27-3) in the program's first final four since 1990.

They play Port St. Lucie (21-9) 4 p.m. today at the Lakeland Center, and sit just two victories from becoming the first county public school to win a state title since Plant City in 1982.

Two weeks ago, this was a squad looking to find its true identity. Today, Chamberlain players have a look in their eyes, a bounce in their step, a confidence in their voices. That's what playoff wins over three quality programs will do for a team.

"I think we can win out," Devlin said.

It won't be easy.

Like Chamberlain, Port St. Lucie is peaking when it counts.

The Jaguars enter the final four after posting wins in succession over a strong Fort Myers squad and Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, which beat Clearwater to win last year's 5A title. Aplin, a well-connected coach who has been at Chamberlain 28 seasons, spent much of the day Monday trying to find out more about his opponent.

"They must be good," the coach said. "They're on a little roll."

Chamberlain's roll isn't bad either.

Since losing their regular-season finale to Sickles, the Chiefs have put together their best stretch of basketball. It starts on defense, where Chamberlain has held three playoff opponents to an average of 52.3 points. The rebounding has been exceptional, several players have provided big baskets and the entire group has played smart.

"I don't think we have any concerns," said forward Kylan Robinson, who scored 19 of Chamberlain's 31 points in the second half against Largo. "Everything is working."

If it continues to work in Lakeland, the Chiefs might find themselves partying one more time.

MEET THE STARTERS

Kylan Robinson

Brandon Jefferson

Dantavis Adkins

Schuyler Gray

James Devlin

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