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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
LAKELAND - Port St. Lucie was prepared for James Devlin's long-range shooting. It was aware of Kylan Robinson's toughness on the boards. And the Jaguars knew of Dantavis Adkins' ball distribution skills.
They weren't, however, ready for Jonny Mack.
"We didn't have anything on him in our game plan," Port St. Lucie coach Kareem Rodriguez said.
In Chamberlain's 56-43 win over the Jaguars in the Class 5A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center on Wednesday, no player was bigger than Mack, a little-known guard who hasn't started a single game this season but made the most of his 16 minutes.
"He was in a zone," Adkins said.
Mack, a 6-foot-2 senior, entered the game averaging 7.4 points. He finished with 11 Wednesday on 4-of-8 shooting. But it wasn't his point total that stood out. It was his timing. After a sluggish first quarter on offense, Chamberlain turned to Mack early in the second, and he delivered three 3-pointers in the span of 86 seconds. Before his first, Chamberlain (28-3) trailed by five. By the time he was finished, the Chiefs led by three.
"We had a hard time finding him for some reason," Rodriguez said.
Mack's shots didn't win it, but nobody doubted they changed the complexion of the game. After his first 3-pointer, the Chiefs appeared to finally find their rhythm.
"Those shots were big," Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin said. "That got us going."
Mack's final basket was another big one. After a 38-30 Chamberlain lead evaporated in the second half thanks to a scoring drought that lasted nearly six minutes, Mack hit a layup with Port St. Lucie's 6-8 forward Larry Sanders closing fast.
That tied the score at 40, and from there, Chamberlain scored 16 of the next 18 points to seal its first trip to the state final since 1990.
"I just had to do my job," the low-key Mack said.
Mack, who also had two rebounds and two steals, was pleased the Jaguars (21-10) praised him after the game. And, well, he didn't seem too insulted by the fact they didn't know of him before it.
"Hey," Mack said, smiling. "That's their fault."
Times staff writer Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 226-3350 or online at niebuhr@