Boys’ Basketball | Class 7A semifinals: Pompano Beach Ely 71, Bartow 52

Blance Ely pummels Bartow to reach 7A final


Lance Tejada and Dallas Cameron led the defending champion Tigers into the Class 7A state final.

If you go

What: The state boys’ basketball finals.

When: Through Saturday.

Where: The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland.

Admission: $10 per session; Parking: $7 per day.

Friday’s results: Class 5A semifinals — Plantation American Heritage 68, Palatka 49; Tampa Jesuit 46, Jacksonville Bishop Kenny 41; Class 7A semifinals — Orlando Evans 53, Stuart Martin County 50; Pompano Beach Blanche Ely 71, Bartow 52; Class 8A semifinals — South Miami 46, Tampa Wharton 38; Oviedo Hagerty 57, Deerfield Beach 54.

Saturday’s schedule: Class 5A championship — American Heritage vs. Tampa Jesuit, 10:05 a.m.; Class 6A championship — Miami Norland vs. Pensacola Pine Forest, 1:35; Class 7A championship — Blanche Ely vs. Evans, 5:05; Class 8A championship — South Miami vs. Hagerty, 8:35.

Already in full jubilation mode with 2:42 left in Pompano Beach Blanche Ely’s Class 7A state semifinal matchup against Bartow, Tigers fans beckoned for one last icing-on-the-cake play before exiting The Lakeland Center.

Tigers guard Lance Tejada III obliged by throwing an alley-oop dunk off the backboard to 6-8 Khalil Thomas as the reigning state champion and Max Preps No. 12 Tigers rolled over the Yellow Jackets 71-52 Friday.

Tejada and Dallas Cameron, half of the Tigers’ dynamic four-guard lineup, played the biggest role in putting the Tigers (26-1) in Saturday’s state championship game against Orlando Maynard Evans, and granting coach Melvin Randall the ideal 50th birthday gift.

Tejada finished with a game-high 24 points and five steals, and Cameron added 17 points and four assists.

“Dallas is a great player to play with,” Tejada said. “He will get the job done. It doesn’t matter what you need from him, he is a winner. It complements me very well to know I have somebody on my side that is willing to do whatever it takes, like myself.”

With Thomas saddled with foul trouble, 6-6 Therrell Gossier provided a spark off the bench by limiting the Yellow Jackets’ star 6-9 forward Christopher Perry to 14 points while adding five points, eight rebounds and a game-high four blocks.

Bartow (27-4) took the action to Ely in the first quarter before Tejada fueled a 15-4 second-quarter run with 12 points and Cameron spearheaded a defense that forced 23 turnovers.

“I think as a team we played very well,” said Randall, who is seeking his fifth state title. “I truly believe it was leadership. Not to take anything away from my bigs, but I think my guards really stepped up and controlled the tempo of the game.”

Gossier threw down a two-handed dunk off two nifty touch passes from Tejada, and Cameron added a putback during the spurt.

Tejada knocked down two shots on the step-back variety, including a three-pointer to extend the Ely lead to 29-18 with 3:58 left in the second quarter.

Bartow (27-4): Odom 5, Perry 14, Brooks 8, Jones 10, Williams 5, West 2, Childs 5, Graham 3. Ely (26-1): Tejada 24, Thomas 13, Cameron 17, Allen 5, Lee 7, Gossier 5. Half: Ely 35-23. Three-pointers: Jones, Childs, Tejada 2, Cameron 3. Rebounds: Gossier 8. Assists: Cameron 4. Steals: Tejada 5.

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