Boys hoops: Raiders' state title dreams ruined in Orlando

By Matt McKinley, Special to the Times
Published February 24, 2008

APOPKA - Plant City's valiant full-court press couldn't keep Orlando Evan's streaky offense in check forever.

All five of the Trojans' starters turned it on in the second half and came away with a 70-52 win over the Raiders (17-10) at Wekiva High on Saturday night in a Class 6A region final, ending Plant City's dreams of its first state title.

Plant City's Steve Hardnett had three straight offensive rebounds and put-backs off Raiders' misses to tie the game at 14 with two minutes left in the first quarter. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

But Evans (24-7) gained momentum, following that with a baseline dunk from Michael Grinage, who finished with 16. A reverse layup at the buzzer by Taylor gave Evans the lead 30-27 going into halftime.

Evans opened the second half with two quick scores, and Raiders coach Wardell Chambers called for a full-court press. Plant City capitalized with two scores off turnovers to cut the lead to 35-33. But Evans adjusted and put the game away.

"They did a good job of not letting us trap them," Chambers said of the Trojans, who went on an 8-0 run in the third.

Evans' Kendric Taylor had 19 points, and Kevin Harden scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.

Plant City was led by Channing Woodall's 19 points.

"No one expected us to make it this far," Chambers said. "Our confidence and poise got us here, and we'll look for those (traits) from our younger players for next season."

Orlando Evans 70 Plant City 52