West Orange basketball tops Seminole in regional final, earns trip to Final Four | Observer Preps

The Warriors rode a dominant third quarter performance to a 96-81 win and the second Final Four berth in program history.

  • By
  • | 11:06 p.m. March 2, 2018
Zion Collins scored 26 points in the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Final to help lead West Orange to victory.
Zion Collins scored 26 points in the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Final to help lead West Orange to victory.
  • Sports
  • Share

SANFORD — Coming out of halftime down 13 points, the West Orange Warriors' chances of winning the FHSAA Class 9A, Region 1 Final did not seem particularly good.

But then the third quarter happened.

West Orange outscored host Seminole 31-11 in the third quarter and the Warriors rode that wave to an eventual 96-81 win — earning a trip to Lakeland for the FHSAA Final Four for the second time in program history.

"We had more heart and we played like our life depended on it," senior guard K.J. Simon said. 

Simon scored 21 points to pair with nine assists, while teammate Zion Collins scored a team-high 26 points to lead West Orange (17-13).

Darrell Harding added 21 points and nine rebounds, while JaMarcus Clark scored eight pivotal points for the Warriors in the fourth quarter.

Despite the deficit it faced, West Orange got right to work to start the third quarter. A quick bucket from Elijah Jordan was followed by Simon scoring and basket while also being fouled, with the veteran guard making the ensuing free throw.

"We capitalized on the first two possessions," head coach Eric Jones said.

With the win, West Orange advances to the FHSAA Final Four in Lakeland for the first time since 2005 — the season before Jones took over as head coach. The Warriors have had some close calls since then — including a heartbreaking loss to Hagerty in the regional final in 2012 — but the veteran coach and his program are finally heading to the game's biggest stage in Florida.

"Man, it's special," Jones said. "It's only the second time in history that this school has been to a Final Four. These guys are trying to leave a legacy."