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State title again eludes Faith Warriors


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

LAKELAND -- They have won 297 games since 1990, have at least 17 victories a season since 1983, have made five final four appearances since 1990 and now at the end of 2001

There still is no state championship for Bayshore Christian.

This time, the killer was Grand Ridge, a Panhandle squad with no player taller than 6 feet 1, that beat Bayshore at their own running game 73-57 at the Lakeland Center.

The final score, however, didn't represent the game's tightness.

The lead changed seven times during the first three quarters and did not get larger than six points.

Both coaches said there was only one critical exchange, which came with less than 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Bayshore's Kyle Knecht converted a driving three-point play. He then made steals on Grand Ridge's next two possessions and ended one with a two-handed dunk that put his team up 41-40.

Teammate Brandon Harrison followed with two foul shots to give Bayshore a 43-40 lead and momentum, raising the hundreds of screaming Bayshore faithful to their feet.

"But then," Grand Ridge coach Greg Nable said, "we had some things go our way."

Grand Ridge's Desmond Sims hit back-to-back layups, and Bayshore's leading scorer, Joe Rawlins, picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench.

Grand Ridge got the ball back with 34 seconds left in the quarter, and after dribbling around and almost turning it over several times, Ronnie Paramore hit a falling-down, off-the-glass three-pointer at the buzzer with two defenders draped over him.

Grand Ridge entered the fourth quarter with a 47-43 lead, a lead it did not give up.

"That little series was just another indication that it was their day and it wasn't ours," Bayshore coach Tom Dibble said.

A grinning Nable said, "I'd like to say that three-pointer was just how we drew it up, but I can't say that. That was just Paramore (who finished with a game-high 30 points) making a play."

Rawlins, who came in averaging 24 points a game, could only watch, adding frustration to a frustrating day. Rawlins, a senior, finished with only 12 points, making just 5 of 12 shots from the field.

"I got into that foul trouble, missed a few shots and got out of my rhythm," he said. Rawlins got called for two charges, which Dibble said were crucial. "You've got to remember that Joe made both of those shots on those charging calls," Dibble said.

"But if the defender gets the foul, instead of him getting the charge, well, then it's a much more interesting ballgame."

Bayshore (33-4), ranked No. 3 in the state poll, ended its season with its worst loss of the season -- by far. Its previous three losses were by a combined five points, and its 57 points were well below its regular-season average of 92.

Grand Ridge (27-10), meanwhile, now has beaten the state's No. 6 (Paxton), 4 (Ocala Shores Christian), 3 (Bayshore) and 1 (Laurel Hill) teams in the post-season. "How they ended up unranked is a complete mystery," Dibble said.

"Grand Ridge is one fine basketball team. Very fine indeed."

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