By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 27, 2001
GULFPORT -- With the top three teams in the Class 4A state poll competing, and all from the same region, including nationally ranked and No. 1 Lakeland Kathleen, this week's Hooters Holiday Shootout was expected to be a Class 4A regional championship preview.
Plant better hope not.
While Kathleen and Lakewood, ranked No. 2, both posted victories on Wednesday's opening day, the Panthers dropped into the losers bracket by losing an overtime game to Ohio's Shaker Heights at Boca Ciega High School.
The Panthers could have been Kathleen's next opponent; Shaker Heights will now fill that role today in the quarterfinals while Plant plays Clearwater.
"We would have liked to play Kathleen," said coach Mike Phillips. "But I want to play the best teams and we'll still see some very good teams here."
The No. 3 Panthers (9-2) have seen one already.
Though it looked early on that Shaker Heights would be run out of the gym, the Raiders (5-0) fought off a total collapse at every turn to get close by halftime, and Plant did the same in a back-and-forth second half.
After trailing the entire first half, Shaker Heights used an 11-0 run to take a 48-41 lead late in the third quarter. Plant returned the favor with a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a 62-56 lead.
But Shaker Heights junior Anthony Teague converted a 3-point play and scored inside as the Raiders regained the lead and eventually went ahead 66-64 in the final minute.
Plant's Kyle Knecht responded with a breakaway dunk to tie it, and, after the Raiders missed four short shots in a last-second flurry, the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, Shaker Heights' guards Terrell Brown and D'veron Harris took turns splitting the Plant defense with drives down the middle for layups to key an 8-2 run to put the Panthers away.
Plant was led by Knecht's 22 points. Mike Williams, who played almost the whole second half with four fouls, added 17 before fouling out.
Teague hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 of his game-high 27 points in the second half.