LAKELAND — Bishop McLaughlin’s Emanuel Sharp scored in just about every way and from every angle during Friday’s Class 3A state title game against Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian — and it didn’t matter who was guarding him.
Not one player could stop the junior guard, which led to Calvary (ranked No. 1 in 3A by MaxPreps) having two, three, even four players collapse on him at any given time.
Eventually in overtime, when Sharp finally seemed to run out of steam, a deep Calvary bench featuring six Division I recruits and eight players taller than 6-feet-5 prevailed.
Final score: Calvary 85, Bishop McLaughlin 76.
The 6-foot-4 Sharp, however, left quite an impression, finishing with a game-high 33 points, including 16 of his team’s final 19.
“He can score from everywhere,” Calvary Christian coach Cilk McSweeney said. “We knew he was good, and he proved that today.”
McSweeney and Bishop McLaughlin coach Derrick Sharp both conceded after the game that Calvary’s depth was a significant factor.
As they have done pretty much all season, the Hurricanes dressed only eight players, with five taking up the bulk of the minutes.
“We’ve been lucky all season with being able to survive with little depth,” Derrick Sharp said. “Today with Calvary being able to bring in multiple people with great energy really wore us down, and we kind of lost our way.”
Bishop McLaughlin’s task became even tougher when Joshua Watkins fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, Derrick Sharp said.
Despite being down a starter, the Hurricanes (22-7) hung tough down the stretch, with Matthew Webster hitting a 3-pointer and Sharp scoring the team’s final seven points in regulation. Sharp shot a long-range 3-pointer In the final seconds of regulation that would have sealed a victory, but it fell just short.
With heavy defensive emphasis on Sharp, Calvary outscored Bishop McLaughlin 9-0 in overtime.
For much of the game, it appeared the Hurricanes (ranked No. 4 in 3A) might pull off the upset against the Eagles, who finished 17-8, with all of their losses coming against highly ranked national opponents.
Bishop McLaughlin led 18-15 after the first quarter, 38-33 at halftime, 51-39 midway through the third and 59-53 heading to the fourth.
“But then we had too many turnovers against their (full-court) press,” Emanuel Sharp said of Calvary’s defensive switch in the second half.
With 5:57 remaining, Calvary took a 63-61 lead, its first since early in the first quarter. It was back and forth from there until the teams ended regulation tied at 76.
The encouraging news for Bishop McLaughlin is that all of its starters — Sharp, Webster (14 points, seven rebounds), Dillon Mitchell (12 points, eight rebounds), Watkins (nine points), and Anthony Davis Jr. (six points) — are all juniors.
“We’ll be back here,” Mitchell said. “We have some work to do, and we’ll get better after this experience.”