Class 6A: Winter Haven Falls to Pine Forest in Semifinals
Thu. February 28, 2013 at 6:06 p.m. | By Bill Kemp
Winter Haven's Kendrick Holland (11) is fouled as he shoots by Pine Forest's DeMarcus Glover (33) (Photo by Pierre DuCharme | The Ledger)
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
LAKELAND | As far as Winter Haven is concerned it was déjà boo.
The Blue Devils fell short of a boys basketball state championship game bid for the second-straight year, dropping their FHSAA Class 6A semifinals matchup after taking a brief lead late in the fourth quarter.
Pine Forest held off Winter Haven 59-52 Thursday at The Lakeland Center to advance to Saturday's state title game against Miami Norland.
"I've got a couple guys here that vowed they would come back two more times and we're going to knock this door down before we finish," Winter Haven head coach Tyrone Woodside said.
Trailing 45-35 with 2:21 left in the third quarter, Winter Haven sophomore forward Darius James ignited a Blue Devils' rally with a slam dunk on his way to scoring game's next six points. Junior wingman Kendrick Holland was also a workhorse inside scoring nine points despite playing with three personal fouls late in the game.
Winter Haven outscored Pine Forest 18-15 in the third quarter and took its first lead of the game, 50-49, at the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
"A lot of it goes back to strength of schedule and toughness. They had been through that situation many times," Woodside said. "They've been in situations against tough teams where they fell behind and they'd get a little angry at each other. ... But they locked in and the toughness that they showed. They don't lay down and they believe they can win."
Winter Haven turned the ball over four times in closing minutes and Pine Forest (29-1) took full advantage finishing the game on a 10-2 run to close out the victory.
"My coaching staff was really frustrated because it was almost textbook of last year at the 3 1/2 minute mark when we took a 2-point lead on Miami Norland and we turned the ball over three times," Woodside said.
The Eagles were led by senior forwards Charlie Wilson with 13 points and Shamar Johnson with 11.
"Basketball is a game of runs and we talk about that all the time," Pine Forest head coach Brad Grant said. "When they made their run I said OK guys it is time for us to make ours. … I told the guys that we have to buckle down on defense and if we don't then we are going home."
From the opening tipoff Winter Haven never seemed intimidated by Pine Forest's superior size advantage and used its guards to penetrate the lanes and score off the dribble throughout the game.
"As a part of maturity I need them to understand whatever you do successfully, you do until they stop it," Woodside said. "And what we did successfully was attacking the middle and finishing at the rim and that got us back into the game."
Sophomore shooting guard Chance McSpadden finished with 15 points –12 in the first half – and junior point guard Ismael Celestin was a second-half spark plug scoring eight of his nine points.
"I didn't see them stopping (Celestin) from penetrating and I didn't see them stopping him from going to the hole," Woodside said. "The second-half Ismael got us here not the first half. … I have a reputation of being point-guard killers and he improved drastically geometrically and I'm proud of him.
Pine Forest had its best offensive output in the first quarter, taking and early 20-17 lead but the Blue Devils adjusted an held the Eagles to 12 second-quarter points.
"We didn't do a good job of closing out on the shooters in the first half because we were so conscious of doubling-down on their bigs. I think once our guys realized they could do a good job of matching up with them (we were OK). I think we were a little over-conscious of the front line. I think we realized we could do a lot of damage if we could just let them down and go one on one."
PINE FOREST (59): Shamar Johnson 5-7 1-2 11, Charlie Wilson 6-13 1-2 13, Ladamian Robbins 3-7 2-3 9, Reggie McKelvy 4-5 0-0 8, Deonya Walton 2-8 1-2 5, Telacey Wilder 0-0 0-0 0, Daveyon 2-3 0-0 4, Damarion Boggan 0-2 0-0 0, Dante' Young 0-2 0-0 0, Zanavian Williams 2-3 0-0 5, DeMarcus Glover 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 26-53 5-11 59.
WINTER HAVEN (52): Darius James 6-10 1-2 13, Glynnis Haynes 0-4 0-0 0, Ismael Celestin 3-12 1-2 9, Kendrick Holland 3-10 3-4 9, Chance McSpadden 6-10 0-0 15, Ramel Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Jerry Hendrix 1-4 0-1 2, Nathan Harris 1-6 2-4 4, Mike Arnold 0-0 0-0 0,, Jaron Georges 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 7-13 52.
Pine Forest 20 12 15 12 -- 59
Winter Haven 17 10 18 7 -- 52
3-point FGs: PF 2-6 (Wilson 0-2, Robbins 1-2, Williams 1-2); WH 5-12 (Celestin 2-5, McSpadden 3-7). Rebounds: PF 35 (Johnson 7), WH 35 (Harris 10). Records: Pine Forest 30-1, Winter Haven 21-10.