Devils lose in boys regional

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By Jim Clark

It didn't take long to find out how Tuesday's basketball game was going to go.

P.K. Yonge jumped out to an 18-point lead and held off a determined Williston team to take a 51-37 win in the Class 3A, Region 2 semifinals at Williston.

The win ends the Devil boys basketball season at 21-8. After defeating Wildwood on Saturday P.K. Yonge moves on to play Wednesday at Lakeland in the state semifinal against Fort Myers Dunbar.

The Blue Wave got off to a fast start, leading 20-4 after the first period and then scoring the first two points of the second period for an 18-point lead.

"I don't know whether it was the atmosphere or what," said WHS coach David Vespignani, who was battling a cold and couldn't yell out instructions above the noisy crowd. "We weren't playing together, it was just one pass and shoot.

"They're so goo, you can't do that."

From there Williston played even for a while, then with the score 26-8 Williston finally put it together. "During our run, we had good passes, moved well and took great shots," the coach said.

That "run" was 13 straight points, including the last seven points of the first half. Carlton Wilcox started it with two baskets from underneath, both on assists from C.J. James, and Devin Timmons hit a three-pointer just before the first-half buzzer, countering a three from P.K.'s Autis Gibson, who suddenly realized time was running out in the first quarter and sank a shot from about one stride inside the half-court line.

Now it was 26-15 at the break, and the crowd felt Williston was back in it.

Freshman James Hunt started the second half with a great turn-around move against one of the Blue Wave big men, and James followed with jumper to make it 26-21. There were fewer than five minutes left in the third period and P.K. hadn't scored yet and looked totally disorganized.

But the Wave, as Vespignani said, "Had been there before" in the playoffs. Gibson sank a three-pointer and Hunt answered from underneath to make it 29-23. But the Wave scored the next six to take a bigger lead, although James sank a long-range shot to make it 35-26 after three periods.

In the fourth James started with another three after a Wave free throw, and it was 36-29. But P.K. didn't wilt, and got the score up to 41-31 after a jumper for WHS by Deonte Welch.

Williston got back in it again as Hunt scored on a putback. Moments later he missed a free throw, but Kelcey Coleman got the rebound and scored to make it 41-35.

That, however, proved to be the last gasp for the Devils. "We had to use so much energy to get ourselves back in the game," Vespignani said.

The Wave got no more baskets, but with a six-point lead could afford to be patient and Williston had to foul. The visitors were deadly from the line, making 10 out of 11 shots in the final 2:09, while the best the Devils could do was a layup by Welch at the 42-second mark for the 37th Williston point.

James and Welch each had eight for Williston, Hunt scored six, Timmons had five, Wilcox and Coleman each had four and Isaac Floyd scored two.

"It was definitely a learning experience," said Vespignani. "That team in the other locker room has played in the state. We've got to learn how to win."