A 10-0 run by the Seminole Seminoles late in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Ocoee Knights lost 68-65 in the Class, 7A Region 1 championship game Friday, Feb. 28.
After a back-and-forth first half, Ocoee (22-8) went into halftime up 37-35 on a three-pointer from Johnny Taylor.
In the third quarter, Ocoee’s lead got all the way up to nine, but a late run by Seminole (26-4) trimmed the lead to 53-49 after three.
“We did a good job of controlling the tempo,“ Ocoee head coach John “Sarge” Siers said. “That was the key.”
Seminole’s run continued into the beginning of the fourth quarter, as they took a 54-53 lead with 7:12 left in the game.
The Knights responded with a 7-0 run to lead 60-54 with 3:59 remaining. Then the Seminoles regained the lead with 2:47 left on a three. After the lead went up to 64-60, Ocoee was forced to foul and David Green consequently fouled out of the game after putting up 22 points on the night.
After Seminole missed the first half of a one-and-one, Ocoee cut Seminole’s lead to two on a layup from Alston Andrews with 38.6 seconds left in the game.
Seminole would make three of their next four free throws, but a three from Jason Coronado made it 67-65 with 16.9 seconds to go. Ocoee would foul right after the ball was inbounded, and Seminole made one of their two free throws.
With 8.4 seconds left, Ocoee inbounded the ball but it was tipped out of bounds. Then with 4.1 seconds, Ocoee turned the ball over.
“It came down to a couple of possessions,” Siers said. “We had the lead with three minutes to play, turned it over three times in a row. Can’t do that against a good team on the road.”
The game was a sell out at Seminole High School — the first ever in their history.
“I think we handled it very well until the end,” Siers said of playing in front of a sold out crowd on the road. “Our guys being able to hear us and communicate was tough, but we handled it until the last three minutes.”
For the Knights, a historic season comes to an end. With 11 seniors on the team, they won 22 games and the metro conference. While they definitely left a great foundation, Siers believes it’s a sign of what’s to come in the future.
“They’ve established themselves as the best basketball team in the history of Ocoee (High School),” Siers said. “Most wins, first metro championship (and the) farthest run in the playoffs. So they’re the first but they won’t be the last. We’re going back to the lab and we’re going to be good for a long time coming. These guys will always be the first.”