A solid 21-point night from Denzel Aberdeen pushed the Panthers into the district semifinals against Apopka on Wednesday.
After three hotly contested quarters, the Dr. Phillips Panthers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Olympia Titans 67-48 and advance in the Class 7A, District 3 playoffs.
At one point during the third quarter Olympia (16-11) led 35-30. From that point to the end of the quarter Dr. Phillips (17-7) outscored the Titans 16-4. That run would carry into the start of the fourth quarter, as the Panthers opened with an 8-0 run to go up 54-39 with 5:54 left in the game to effectively pull away from Olympia.
“At halftime we had some time to come in, change what we were doing, run some different things because they had a box-and-one — something we haven’t seen this year,“ Panthers Head Coach Ben Witherspoon said. “I honestly was thinking about it on my drive today on the way here, earlier this week if they box-and-one us what would we do? So I had some things ready in my head.
“We made the adjustments offensively, then defensively, we kept the pressure on,” Witherspoon said. “When we got up, we just wanted to close the door and not let them back in the game.”
At times during the second and third quarter, Dr. Phillips’ offense fell into a bit of a slump. Freshman Joseph Poventud stepped up for the Panthers, as he scored 15 points will all of them coming on three-pointers.
“Huge game for our freshman Joseph Poventud,” Witherspoon said of his performance. “He can really play, he’s not scared of anything — super proud of the way he stepped up tonight.”
Denzel Aberdeen led the Panthers with 21 points and Juneau Anicette also had a big game with 18 points. Tyree Bryan led the Titans with 12 points.
Olympia will have to wait for district play to finish before they find out if they advance into regional play. As for Dr. Phillips, they advance to the Class 7A, District 3 semifinals to face the tournament host Apopka Blue Darters (18-8) this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Apopka won the first meeting against the Panthers 50-48 during the regular season.
“They’re a great team,” Witherspoon said. “We’re gonna have to come to play. I’m excited to compete. We didn’t execute defensively that first game very well so we have some things to shore up before we play them again.”