The Warriors hung tough with nationally-ranked Oak Ridge early, but could not keep pace in the FHSAA Class 9 State Semifinals in Lakeland.
LAKELAND — The West Orange Warriors' remarkable postseason run came to a close on the second-to-last day of the high-school basketball season in Florida.
The Warriors hung tough early Friday evening against nationally-ranked Oak Ridge, but could not keep pace, eventually falling to 86-64 to the Pioneers in the FHSAA Class 9A State Semifinals at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
"I felt like a couple kids (for Oak Ridge) made some shots early that got us out of our rhythm," West Orange head coach Eric Jones said. "(Oak Ridge) continued to make shots."
West Orange trailed 14-11 early, showing some promise in a game where it was clearly the underdog, but the Pioneers went on a 7-2 run to close the first quarter and outscored the Warriors 22-12 in the second — leaving West Orange facing a daunting 43-25 halftime deficit.
Antwann Jones, a Texas A&M signee, led Oak Ridge with a game-high 30 points. Four other Pioneers finished in double-figures scoring.
West Orange (17-13) was led by 20 points from senior Troy signee KJ Simon, in his final game as a high-school hoops player.
JaMarcus Clark chipped in 10 points.
Afterward, despite the disappointment, Jones praised his team for returning the program to this point — the FHSAA Final Four — for the first time since 2005.
"I'm proud of these guys for what they've given me — an unbelievable experience," Jones said. "I knew based on some of the things that happened during the summer, I knew we could make a run."
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