A visit to the state basketball tournament

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By Jim Clark

Sitting at the state high school basketball championships in Lakeland last Friday, watching P.K. Yonge get swept away in the Class 3A final, I had someone next to me lean over and say, "I wonder what Williston would be thinking right now."

I was wondering, too.

Were it not for one bad quarter in the regional final against P.K. Yonge, that might have been Williston's boys out there playing for the title. They had worked real hard to get where they ended up, but falling behind in the first quarter of the regionals was their downfall.

P.K. had defeated Fort Myers Dunbar in the state semifinal last Wednesday, and in all honesty, Williston could have knocked Dunbar off, too. It took some fourth-quarter heroics by Josh Snodgrass to get the Blue Wave the victory.

In the finals, it was Fort Lauderdale Pinecrest taking on P.K. Yonge, and the south Florida team was good, disciplined and fundamentally sound. But in watching them, I always felt that Williston's speed would have given them fits.

It was good to see that Williston's play this past season was right up there with the state's elite. Maybe next year, although there will be no seniors coming back, the Devils can take it one step further and we can all make the trip to Lakeland.

I went with the specific purpose of watching the two schools that eliminated Levy County teams in the regionals. After P.K. Yonge, there came Arlington Country Day, which defeated Bronson in the regional quarterfinals.

ACD won the state 2A championship, but it almost seemed as if the Apaches (talk about a politically incorrect nickname) received a gift in both games to get there.

Their semifinal game was against Community School of Naples, which had scouted ACD, obviously, and came out, won the tap and ran an offense designed to hold the ball, and that they did. Finally, after three minutes, the Apaches stole the ball and went in for a layup to take a 2-0 lead, but the Naples team came right back and sank a three-pointer to take the lead. But after that the slowdown wasn't effective, and Arlington opened up a 15-point lead going into the final quarter.

ACD had the ball and did its own freezing tactic, not even bothering to run anything. They just stood there and held it and, incredibly, the Naples team, down 15 points, made no effort to get out and get the ball. Finally, after nearly 90 seconds went by, they decided to play defense. For the rest of the period, the Naples team outplayed ACD and cut the lead to five, but now it was the final minute and there was no time to run a regular defense and continue the comeback. ACD made its free throws and won by 10 points.

Had the Naples team had those 90 seconds back that they wasted at the beginning of the quarter, who knows?

Then came the final for ACD against a school from south Florida called Sagemont. With 1:49 to go, Arlington scored to take a one-point lead.

After that, no one scored.

Sagemont missed four field goal attempts and a free throw in that stretch. Arlington missed a field goal attempt, had a turnover and missed three front ends of one-and-one shots, but still won the game. It wasn't exactly an awe-inspiring performance.

PRIVATE SCHOOL WATCH: Private schools won four championships, and public schools won only two.

GAMES ON TELEVISION: The boys' championship games will be on Sun Sports beginning March 10 at noon and run for several days.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.