Schoolhouse Prep had never been in a position like the one it faced in the fourth quarter of the Class 2A semifinals Wednesday.
The Wolfpack was less than eight minutes away from reaching its first state title game and all it had to do was hang on to a double-digit lead in the final period.
Steadily, its 12-point lead in Lakeland slipped away. Schoolhouse’s offense broke down against Jacksonville Impact Christian Academy’s double teams and Impact Christian Academy turned those wasted possessions into transition points. The game went to overtime and the Wolfpack’s final hope, a contested three-pointer at the buzzer, went awry. Impact Christian charged all the way back to beat Schoolhouse, 56-54.
“Last year, we were the underdogs. This year we were the hunted and I think there’s something to be said about that transition of going from the hunters to being the hunted,” said coach Colin Campbell, who’s in his second year with the Miami school. “I think we responded to that reasonably well all year and today I thought we just took our foot off the gas at the wrong time.
The Lions closed regulation on a 13-2 run to force overtime and the run continued to 20-2 to start overtime.
The Wolfpack (20-9) never led in the extra period at the RP Funding Center after it never trailed in the fourth quarter. For the second straight year, Schoolhouse fell one win short of playing for a Florida High School Athletic Association championship, only this time it was in control until the final moments.
With 7:17 left, the Wolfpack had blown open a 12-point lead. Schoolhouse turned up its own pressure in the third quarter to turn a 27-21 deficit into a 41-33 lead going to the fourth quarter, then scored the first four points of the fourth to give it the largest lead of the game for either team.
Impact Christian’s defense went to work on the next possession and a steal by Timothy Grant turned into a three for fellow Lions guard RJ Bryant. Senior Cedrick Saint Jean, who scored 15 points, answered with a jumper with 5:35 left to push the Wolfpack’s lead back to 47-36. Schoolhouse only scored two more points for the rest of regulation.
“We weren’t in the right spots at the right time,” said guard Anthony Lopez Jr., who scored 15 points before fouling out in overtime. “It was kind of hard for us to score with the pressure.”
The only other points in regulation for the Wolfpack came when junior Jehu Wright made a transition layup off a turnover with 3:10 left. Impact Christian (19-8) scored 10 of its 16 points in the fourth quarter off Schoolhouse turnovers.
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Both teams shot worse than 42 percent from the field and committed at least 15 turnovers. Both the Wolfpack and Lions scored 15 points off turnovers.
“Just like we went on a run to get up 12, I thought they did a great job of responding and pressuring us,” Campbell said, “and making sure that they were in a position to counteract our pressure.”
Even after its 12-point lead was gone, Schoolhouse still had a chance to avoid overtime. Impact Christian tied the game 46-46 with 1:36 left on a jumper by Lions point guard Jordin Jackson and the Wolfpack tried to hold for the last shot. Impact Christian eventually fouled Jimel Cofer Jr. with 14.8 seconds left to send the guard to the line with a chance to reclaim the lead.
The junior missed both. Schoolhouse finished just 7 of 16 at the free-throw line, and went 2 for 6 in the second half and 0 for 3 in overtime.
“The moment got to us,” Campbell said. “Sometimes the moment gets to you.”
GIRLS’ FLAG FOOTBALL
▪ Krop 34, Cooper City 0: Krop defense came through intercepting 7 Cooper City passes including four pick sixes. Kamryn Walker 4 receptions, 31 yards, TD, 3 Int, (2 pick 6s), 5 flag pulls; Lindsey Weingard 13-of-24, 83 yards TD, 2 Int, (one pick 6), 2 flag pulls; Ayanna Knowles 4 receptions, 30 yards; Mai Lisa Attis Int., (Pick 6), 3 flag pulls; Brianna Knowles 2 receptions, 10 yards, Int., 2 flag pulls; Kirra Magana 2 receptions 10 yards, 2 flag pulls
▪ Belen Jesuit d. Greater Miami Adventist Academy 3-0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-9): Mario Cobo 7 kills, 1 ace; Chris Klemick 8 kills, 2 blocks; Herman Suarez 29 assists, 3 digs, 3 kills, 2 aces; Cody Aguirre 9 kills.
▪ Hialeah Gardens d. Westland Hialeah 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-13): Alex Cabrera 13 digs, 2 aces, 14 receptions; Daniel Mirabal , 8 kills, 5 blocks; and Gabriel Perez 3 kills, 2 aces.
▪ Hialeah Gardens Braddock 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-18): Damian Hernandez 12 assist, 4 aces; Alex Cabrera 18 digs, 2 aces 17 receptions; and Gabriel Perez, 5 kills 1 ace.
▪ Southwest d. Columbus 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-21): Jack Hershman 8 kills, 2 aces; Eliezer Gonzalez 6 kills; Alessandro DeLaO 6 kills. SW: 3-1.
▪ Ransom Everglades d. Miami High 3-0
▪ Ransom Everglades d. Miami Country Day 4-3: RE – Xander Lake, Lucas Carvalho, Christian Gardner won in singles. Carvalho/Ian Barnett won in doubles. RE: 3-2.
▪ Carrollton d. Divine Savior 6-1: Jimena Menendez, Julietta Menendez and Cecilia Swain all won in singles. CAR: 2-0.
▪ Miami Country Day d. Ransom Everglades 5-2
▪ Southwest 4, Miami High 1: WP Frank Elissalt, 5IP, 10 Ks; Evan Padron 2 RBI; S: Joel Rodriguez, 1 IP, 3 Ks
▪ Colonial Christian 17, Somerset Academy South 1: Morgan Wells 3B, 3RBI, SB; Juliette DelValle 3B, 3 RBI; Jenna Friman 3 RBI; Cayla Housh 1B. CC: 6-0.
▪ Braddock 12, Varela 5: WP: Celina Marin 5H, 2-4, 4 RBI; Emilee Caldera 1B, Nathalia Suarez 1B; Juliette Avila 1B.