Hillsborough holds off a furious Tampa Bay Tech rally

Even a 22-point lead isn't safe, but the Terriers hang on to win 56-54.
Hillsborough senior guard Christian DeLeon directed the Terrier offense Friday night to 22-point first-half lead against Tampa Bay Tech. The Titans fought back hard in the second half before finally losing 56-54. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Hillsborough senior guard Christian DeLeon directed the Terrier offense Friday night to 22-point first-half lead against Tampa Bay Tech. The Titans fought back hard in the second half before finally losing 56-54. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published February 2

TAMPA — Hillsborough almost blew it Friday night.

Almost.

The Terriers held a 22-point lead at halftime over visiting Tampa Bay Tech. The home court was packed and raucous and as the lead built and the good vibes resounded, the Terriers might have gotten a little too confident.

The Titans, with a large and loud contingent of fans behind their bench, weren't going away.

After three quarters, the Terriers' lead was 18 points. Four minutes later, the lead was 12. With 1:32 remaining, the lead was nine. With one minute left, it was six. With 20 seconds remaining, the lead was two, which is where it remained until the final horn sounded.

Final score, with a huge "Whew" from the Terrier contingent: Hillsborough 56, Tampa Bay Tech 54.

In the end, Hillsborough coach Chris Ward wasn't too happy.

"We relaxed, we got too complacent, we got sloppy," said Ward, whose team improved to 21-1. "We were up 18 points (47-29) after the third quarter and then we win by two points? We have to learn to finish. We can't do this. We have the playoffs coming up and we can't do this."

Tampa Bay Tech (15-6) also wasn't thrilled but the Titans also weren't downtrodden by any means, especially after playing a series of seven tough games within a two-week span.

"We never count points or look at the score," Tampa Bay Tech coach Adrian Johnson said. "We just keep giving it everything we have until the game is over. That's what we do. I'm proud of the way we kept fighting back. Our legs were tired after playing all those recent games but we still never stopped tonight."

Hillsborough guard Christian DeLeon led the Terriers with 17 points, followed by Xavier Lockwood with 14. Tampa Bay Tech's David Cexil led the Titans with 25 points.

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