The Lakers pushed the tempo Tuesday night in the FHSAA Class 3A State Semifinals and coasted to an 80-61 victory over Miami's Archbishop Carroll. Windermere Prep will face Westminster Academy in the state final on Thursday.
LAKELAND Senior guard Parker Davis collected the opening tip of the FHSAA Class 3A State Semifinals, sprinted down the court, and scored the game’s first points.
From that opening possession onward, Windermere Prep never really slowed down.
The Lakers (26-5) employed a breakneck tempo throughout the night Feb. 23 as they coasted to an 80-61 victory over Miami’s Archbishop Carroll (28-4). Windermere Prep pushed the ball wherever it could, repeatedly breaking through Archbishop Carroll’s attempts at a press, and found itself scoring in bunches on layups and put-back buckets.
The Lakers shot a staggering 71 percent in the first half and 68 percent on the game.
“I figured with the guys we have … that we have enough guard-play that we could break that initial trap and get all the layups, finishes and put-backs that we wanted,” head coach Ben Wilson said.
Davis would finish with a game-high 25 points and, afterward, said that opening possession went a long way toward getting him going on a stage he hadn’t performed on before.
“It gave me a lot of confidence in the beginning — I was kind of nervous in this big arena,” Davis said.
Joining Davis in quarterbacking the Lakers’ fast start — Windermere Prep had 46 points by halftime — was junior standout David Nickelberry. Nickelberry scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished the night with 17 points — along with nine rebounds and seven assists.
“We knew that we need to come out strong and finish with confidence and strength,” Nickelberry said. “I felt great … I felt confident and that if I continued to play strong and play aggressive that we were going to come out with a victory.”
Xion Golding (15 points) and Will Seelman (10 points) also finished in double-figures for the Lakers, though the offense ran through Davis and Nickelberry for most of the evening.
“They’re both great at attacking first,” Wilson said of his two standouts. “When they come out attacking basket, it gets the game going.”
Windermere Prep will now take on Fort Lauderdale’s Westminster Academy in the Class 3A State Final at 5 p.m on Thursday at The Lakeland Center. The Lions (22-6) rallied to force overtime against The First Academy and outscored the Royals in the extra period, 16-6, to take the 68-58 victory.
When the Lakers take the floor on Thursday, they will likely again be cheered on by the same sizable cheering section that made the trip from Southwest Orange on Tuesday.
“They’ve been supporting us the whole year and I’m glad that they came,” Xion Golding said. “It was crazy — all the red in the stands was great.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].