LAKELAND -- Juwan Frazier raised both arms as far above his head as he could with three fingers on each hand pointed to the roof of The Lakeland Center's George Jenkins Arena. He took a moment to celebrate his latest deep 3-pointer before planting himself at Bradenton Christian's 3-point line while Boca Raton Grandview Prep set up its press.
The Grandview Prep guard turned as the Panthers were launching a pass to midcourt, trying to race past Grandview's press before the Pride could set up a trap or double team.
Frazier made his move on the ball and deflected the pass for another takeaway. He passed the ball and when it came back he was ready to attack again. Frazier darted into the paint, contorted his body and finished a circus layup.
The personal 5-0 run for Frazier turned GPS' two-point lead with 3:29 left in the second quarter into a seven-point edge. By halftime, Grandview's lead ballooned to 13 points. The Panthers turned the ball over five times during the second quarter when the Pride implemented its press and let a chance for the first state title in program history slip away.
GPS held on for a 87-63 win at the Class 2A championship Wednesday in Lakeland.
Frazier went into halftime with 18 points and finished with 26 points, plus six steals.
"He's a great player," BCS guard Vincent Rehfeldt said. "He's fast. You can't just step back off him because he can shoot, too."
Scott Townsend had anticipated this meeting since the middle of January. Grandview was undefeated and regarded by some as the best
team in Florida when it traveled to Punta Gorda for the Wally Keller Classic on Jan. 16. The Bradenton Christian head coach took the opportunity to see his potential state championship opponent face Sarasota Riverview, the top-ranked team in Class 8A.
He saw the Pride dismantle Riverview for a 17-point win, but he also saw similarities to his team, even if GPS (32-0) was a bit taller and more athletic than BCS. On defense, both Bradenton Christian (29-4) and Grandview hunt for turnovers. On offense, they push the pace when they can.
Frazier controlled the pace for the Pride and got the offense humming with his sharpshooting during the second quarter. The guard hit all three of his 3-point attempts during the period and finished 5 for 7 from beyond the arc. GPS finished at 52.6 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from the arc. The 87 points were the most anyone scored against the Panthers this season.
"When they're hitting shots like that there's not much you can do about it," Townsend said.
BCS began the game planning to go under screens for Frazier, daring the guard who only hit 37 3s during the season to fire from long range rather than use his quickness to puncture Bradenton Christian's defense. By halftime, his barrage forced the Panthers to adjust and chase Frazier over the top of the picks. The BCS defense bent and Shawn Occeus, GPS' leading scorer, found opportunities.
The wing finished with a game-high 28 points, and led Grandview with seven rebounds and four assists to go with four steals. Bradenton Christian shooting guard Ryan Leunk scored a team-high 14 points, and recorded game-highs with eight rebounds and five assists. Rehfeldt added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Jake Lister chipped in 12 points on four 3-pointers.
Leunk, Rehfeldt and Lister, the three guards who have been classmates since first grade at BCS, kept the Panthers afloat early. Bradenton Christian tied the Pride, 18-18, early in the second quarter when GPS caught the Panthers off guard.
BCS' scouting report showed Grandview only uses its press when desperate -- almost exclusively when trailing. Bradenton Christian turned the ball over five times in a 2:15 span and the Pride's lead swelled to 13 by halftime. The Panthers never inched closer and finished with 19 turnovers.
"It's nothing we haven't seen this year," Leunk said. "It was a little bit of length. They definitely had a height advantage on us and it ended up showing."
After winning every game by at least 15 points on the way to its first championship game since 1997, BCS ran into a juggernaut in the final. GPS finishes the year as the state's lone unbeaten and the one team in 2A which could effectively outplay Bradenton Christian at its own style.
The Panthers will graduate all five seniors from this year's team, but they've left their mark as the group which brought BCS as far as it had ever been.
"Some of the best teammates that I was able to grow up with, playing the game of basketball that I love," Leunk said. "As hard as it was taking a loss in the state championship, I wouldn't have asked for anything else."
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be contacted at 941-745-7057 or on Twitter @DBWilson2.