RUSKIN — Lennard High’s Diontae Johnson hit three first-half 3-pointers Tuesday night and Caelen Watts hit three in the third quarter as the Longhorns remained unbeaten at home by defeating Largo 73-66 in a Class 6A-Region 3 boys basketball semifinal.
Lennard hit eight 3-pointers in the game.
The key point in the game came at 3:40 in the third quarter when Largo center Brandon Jones was called for his third foul. Coach Philip Price removed Jones from the game, and Lennard took what had been a back-and-forth battle and opened up a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Jones came back in to start the fourth quarter, but the Packers could not rally.
“We made it our plan to go after Jones and Donavan Hale,” said Lennard coach Danny Gaddis. “We knew they were extremely active on the boards so we wanted to go after them.”
Jones started with seven first-quarter points, but he only scored four more the rest of the game. Hale had 20 points to lead all scorers.
“The biggest difference this year is that we are a team,” Gaddis said. “Everybody has to be ready and everyone was called upon tonight and you saw what happened, whether it was Johnson hitting 17 points or Caelen Watts hitting free throws in the fourth quarter, or whether its Gary Hector fouling out and somebody else stepping up.”
For Lennard, Johnson had 17 points, while Gant and Earl Williams scored 12 and Hector scored 10.
7A-2: Rojas leads Freedom past Strawberry Crest
DOVER — Miguel Rojas scored twice from down low in the closing moments, lifting Freedom to a dramatic 42-40 victory against Strawberry Crest in a Class 7A-Region 2 semifinal.
Sheldon Odunna scored 15 points and Rojas finished with 12 for Freedom (18-6), which will take a seven-game winning streak into the region final on Saturday night.
Strawberry Crest (22-7) led 19-15 at the intermisson and built an eight-point advantage early in the third quarter.
“I was panicking a little bit, and the assistant coaches did their job and calmed me down and said we’ll be all right,” Freedom coach Cedric Smith said.
Less than two minutes later, Odunna capped an 8-0 run that pulled the Patriots even with a pair of free throws awarded on a technical foul and a field goal.
Malik Channer finished with 15 for the Chargers, who lost at home for the first time this season.
4A-3: Berkeley Prep rolls past Avon Park
AVON PARK — Marshall Holmes had four first half 3-pointers as Berkeley Prep cruised past Avon Park 76-46 Tuesday night in a Class 4A-Region 3 semifinal.
The Buccaneers (26-3) got 3-pointers from Justin Gray, Antonio Johnson and Craig Bowman to take a commanding 23-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Avon Park (20-8) responded in the opening moments of the second period with consecutive baskets, but midway through the period the Bucs used a flurry of fast-break baskets to blow the game open. Berkeley Prep led 48-24 at the half.
Holmes led all scorers with 21 points. Bowman netted 14 for the Bucs while Gray added 10.
Brandon Howard, Highlands Today
3A-2: Durham scores 35 in Tampa Prep’s victory
TAMPA — Sophomore Juwan Durham’s 35 points helped Tampa Prep to a 73-50 win against Brooks-DeBartolo in a Class 3A-Region 2 semifinal.
The Phoenix put a scare into the Terrapins, leading for most of the second quarter, but Taz Strauch’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Tampa Prep all the momentum and a 28-27 halftime lead.
The Terrapins pulled away in the second half, carried by Durham and frequent trips to the free-throw line. Tampa Prep shot 21 free throws in the second half, compared to seven for Brooks-DeBartolo.
“It’s a nice win and I’m very happy for our kids,” Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon said. “We know we’re playing First Academy on Friday. It’s a good feeling for our kids.”
After a slow start to the game, 23 of Durham’s 35 points came in the second half.
“I knew my team depended on me so I just had to produce as best I could,” Durham said.
2A-2: Haslam paces Academy at the Lakes
LAND O’ LAKES — Ethan Haslam had 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists as Academy at the Lakes dispatched Bayshore Christian, 69-53, in the Class 2A-Region 2 semifinals.
Malik Hall drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, which started a 15-0 run that turned a tie game into a 30-15 lead for the Wildcats (17-10). Hall finished with 23 points.
“We’re an emotional team and that shot was huge for us,” Academy at the Lakes coach Tom Haslam said, “It got us going and we started playing better basketball.”
Reaching its second region final in school history, the Wildcats outscored the Faith Warriors 23-8 in the second quarter to take a 41-23 lead at halftime.
Eric Davis had 17 rebounds, while Greg Johnson scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Faith Warriors (24-4).
8A-2: St. Petersburg eliminates Wharton
TAMPA — Despite committing 13 fouls in the first half, St. Petersburg was able to build upon its six-point advantage in the final two quarters en route to a 63-45 victory in a Class 8A-Region 2 semifinal.
“At halftime we were only up by six and we knew we didn’t want to go home,” 6-foot-6 senior Ben Clare said. “We said we were going to crack down, we knew we were in foul trouble, so we made sure we didn’t get in any more trouble.”
The Green Devils scored 22 in the third quarter as Dayon Griffin and Terrell Burney (14 points, including three 3-pointers) stepped it up on the defensive end and turned steals and rebounds into quick points. Clare scored six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Wharton senior Chase Litton did his best to keep Wharton (20-7) in the game, answering a number of St. Petersburg shots with buckets of his own and finished with a game-high 23 points. Senior Scott Sollazzo added 11 points in the loss.
“Chase has been a warrior the whole time,” Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli said of his senior captain. “He’s battled as a four-year district champion, he’s a winner and I wouldn’t have expected anything less.”