Johnson scored eight of his 16 points in the decisive second quarter spurt, Owens added a game high 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Jenkins had 14 points as Deerfield Beach (28-4) stormed into the FHSAA Class 8A State final four with a 70-40 victory over Jupiter.
“All we’ve thought about for the past year is how Spanish River celebrated on our court.” Johnson said. “That playoff loss fueled us so we ran Jupiter off the court. We wanted to come out and send a message tonight that the next two games will be the same. We’ve come too far for it to end npw.”
Source Hoops No. 2 Deerfield Beach (28-4) advances to face No. 5 Oviedo Hagerty in the Class 8A State semifinals on March 1 at 8:30 p.m. at the Lakeland Center. No. 1 South Miami (25-2) faces Tampa Wharton (23-4) at 7 p.m.
Before leaving to a standing ovation with 1:21 left and the Bucks’ lead stretched to 66-37, the 6-3 Johnson punctuated his performance with an emphatic block of Warriors’ 6-11 center Grant Pelchen’s two-hand dunk attempt.
By that time, the familiar chant of “B-U-C-K-S P-R-I-D-E”, which accompanied Deerfield on its last trip to the State Final Four in 1999, when Julius Jenkins led the Bucks to its second state title, had reached a full crescendo inside the Bucks gym.
“This is good for the City of Deerfield Beach but we still have two more to go,’’ said sixth-year coach Kenny Brown, who has engineered the Bucks’ resurgence. “Last year on this same day we had a big letdown. I always kept it in the back of our players’ minds that last year, it could happen again, and not to take anything for granted.”
Bucks 6-8 center Joshua Huntley, in perhaps his best playoff performance, came alive for 12 points and 12 rebounds and the steady sophomore point guard Vanderbilt Carpenter added seven points and eight assists.
But this night belonged to the Bucks’ seniors who put this one on ice with a 15-1 second quarter spurt that knocked the wind out of Jupiter (20-6) for good.
With Deerfield holding a 17-16 lead with 4:21 left, Johnson hit two three-pointers, Owens had a putback before Carpenter, on a hard push upcourt, found Jenkins for his second three-pointer, which ultimately proved to be the back-breaker as the Bucks opened a 30-17 lead.
JUP (20-6): Pelchen 7, Zicaro 2, Blue 7, Troiano 2, Edgley 9, Depasquale 4, Zabiski 10. DB (28-4): Owens 17, Jenkins 14, Carpenter 7, T. Johnson 16, Huntley 12, Graham 2, Amos 4. Half: DB 32-20. Three-pointers: Blue 2, Zabiski 1, Jenkins 3, Owens 2, T. Johnson 2. Rebounds: Owens, Huntley 12. Assists: Carpenter 8. Steals: Owens 3.
• Region 4-5A final – American Heritage 77, Naples Lely 61: American Heritage’s Kobe Eubanks scored a game-high 26 points as the host Patriots defeated Naples Lely High School 77-61 in the region 4-5A final in Delray Beach.
American Heritage (22-7) advances to the state semifinals in Lakeland for the second consecutive season. The Patriots will face Palatka High School on March 1.
The Patriots utilized its height advantage against the Trojans throughout the game. The frontcourt of Drake LaMont and Jason Massey gave Lely (20-11) problems on the offensive boards. The Patriots went on a 15-5 run in the first quarter, which was aided by second-chance points on layups by LaMont inside the paint and Eubanks cutting to the basket.