PALMETTO -- For Lakewood Ranch, it was pick your poison.
The Mustangs knew they were outmanned by a taller, more athletic Palmetto boys basketball team and decided to pack in their defense and concede the 3-pointer.
Palmetto feasted off the plan, draining 6 out of 7 attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter en route to a 55-36 victory in a Class 7A-District 10 semifinal Wednesday night.
"We came in with a good game plan, and they came out and made a bunch of threes," Lakewood Ranch head coach Jeremy Schiller said. "When you play against a team as talented as they are, you got to give away something and if you are going to give away something it's contest the threes. Unfortunately they made all of those."
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The victory sends the
Tigers (20-5) to North Port for the district final on Friday night. Palmetto lost two close games to the Bobcats during the season. North Port defeated Braden River 58-36 in its semifinal.
Jarrid Rhodes got the Tigers off to a quick start, knocking down three treys in the first quarter. Terry Collins scored four points the traditional way, and Palmetto raced out to a 23-8 lead after one period.
"Offensively, we are not as solid as we need to be, but early we shot the ball pretty good, and that's a tribute to their work ethic and a commitment to get more shots up," Palmetto head coach Reggie Bellamy said. "Both times we lost to
North Port we shot the ball poorly, around 20 percent. I am more concerned about the interior passes. This was the first game back for Jordan Young. He missed about five games because of an injury."
Palmetto extended the lead to 33-13 at halftime and never looked back. Rhodes took Palmetto scoring honors with 12 points and had five rebounds.
Young led the Tigers on the glass with 11 rebounds and chipped in eight points. Dearius Washington had 10 points, and Tre Clark contributed nine. Stepvon Saunders had seven points and four rebounds.
"To beat North Port, we have to play a solid game on both ends of the court," Bellamy said. "That is a real good basketball team. We just want to make sure that we show up. We are going to have to defend well and hopefully we will shoot better."
Palmetto also had a huge advantage on the glass against Lakewood Ranch, pulling down 50 rebounds to 35 for the Mustangs.
Brandon Barber led Lakewood Ranch with 12 points, Sam Hester had nine, and Josh Rountree tallied eight for the Mustangs, who finished their season at 12-14.
"Our kids battled to the end. I am proud of them. They played with a lot of heart," Schiller said. "I had three seniors who played like warriors the whole night (Justin Otis, Josh Rountree, Quinn Thomas). I am sorry to see them go, but we are really excited about the future. Our leading scorer this year (Sam Hester) is a freshman. We had three freshmen on varsity, and our JV team was 16-4."