Boys basketball triumphs in overtime, wins regional championship

Junior+Denzel+Mahoney+makes+a+game-tying+shot%2C+bringing+the+game+into+overtime+for+an+eventual+win+against+Boone+and+the+title+of+regional+champ.

photo by Jake Arthur

Junior Denzel Mahoney makes a game-tying shot, bringing the game into overtime for an eventual win against Boone and the title of regional champ.

Ben Clyatt, Sports Editor

On Saturday, Feb. 21, the boys basketball team beat Boone in overtime, 54-47, in the regional championship and advanced to the FHSAA state semifinals. The team has now won 16 of their last 18 games, and this is their first state playoff win on the road.

“It was at their gym. It wasn’t like we were here, or some place that holds two or three thousand. It was in a gym that holds 700,” head coach Josh Kohn said. “Everybody was on top of each other… That’s a fun atmosphere if you’re a player.”

The team scrapped through much of the game, adjusting to Boone’s slow, physical style of play. On the first possession, Boone held the ball for a minute and a half before scoring on a three pointer. The team was held to 11 points in the first quarter, and went into the second quarter tied with Boone. The second quarter played out much like the first, and the team went into the half trailing Boone, 21-20.

Boone went on a run to open up the second half, and halfway through the third quarter held onto a 32-23 lead. The team managed to make some leeway in the latter half of the third quarter, and went into the fourth down 34-25.

Guard Alex Keel opened the third quarter with a three to cut the Boone lead to six, then, after a free throw by forward Isaac Nze, stole the Boone inbounds pass and nailed another three pointer, making the score 34-33, Boone. With two and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, Keel hit another three pointer to put the team down one, 41-40. Boone turned the ball over with 30 seconds left, holding on to a 45-43 lead. The team was unable to capitalize, and Boone had the ball back with 19 seconds remaining. After they missed a free throw with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Keel ran the ball up the court. His three point attempt was deflected, and center Robin Loh grabbed the rebound and missed the putback. Forward Denzel Mahoney grabbed the miss and laid in an uncontested layup at the buzzer to tie the score, 45-45, and send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the team outscored Boone, 9-2, to win the regional championship, led by key free throws from forwards Nze and Isiah Domino. Boone’s only two points came off of free throws with 47 seconds left. Keel finished with 21 points, and Mahoney added 19.

The next game is Thursday, Feb. 26, against St. Petersburg in Lakeland at 7p.m. This marks the team’s third final four appearance in four years.

“We were 7-6 on Jan. 3. Now we’re in the final four… That’s a good run. What can I say? I don’t have any words to top what happened,” Kohn said.

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