Fort Lauderdale University came out running and the clock followed in the third quarter.
No. 1-ranked University (32-1) beat Tampa Catholic 83-48 on Wednesday at the RP Funding Center in an FHSAA Class 5A state semifinal and will face Trinity Catholic for the state title at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Trinity advanced after edging Pensacola Catholic 55-54 in an earlier semifinal.
“I am familiar with their coach,” University coach Adrian Sosa said. “They have some good guards. They do a lot of isolation. We just want to find a mismatch and try to attack that mismatch. It should be a good game.”
University, ranked second nationally by USA Today behind Montverde Academy, forced a running-clock situation with a 63-27 lead at 6:54 of the third. By the time University pulled its starters midway through the third quarter, it had shot 78 percent from the field and had racked up more than 10 slam dunks.
“I thought from the jump the boys came out and were very engaged. They’ve had a great last couple of weeks of practices. We just carried it over defensively. There were passing lanes, and we got out in transition,” Sosa said.
“We had 44 points in the paint in the first half, just rebounding, outletting and running the floor. Every game we’ve had the same game, and that was to get up and down [the court], play with tempo and attack the basket.”
University (31-1) was led by 6-foot-10 junior forward Vernon Carey Jr., who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He had 10 rebounds on the defensive glass to set up the transition game. Senior guard Trey Doomes scored 20, and sophomore guard Scott Barnes added 12.
“It’s been a fun season, and we hope to continue to finish,” said Carey Jr., whose father played for the Miami Dolphins.
Tampa Catholic was led by Tim Carter with 12 points, Alijah Harrison with 11 and Kobe Knox with 10.
“They are really good. I mean, we knew they were good, but maybe we were a little surprised about how good they were,” Tampa Catholic coach Don Dziagwa said. “They run and run and run and get a lot of easy fast-break baskets. They didn’t really allow us to get into any of what we wanted to do.”
Tampa Catholic (26-5) shot 33 percent from the field for the game, which helped University collect 30 defensive rebounds, and it held a 26-13 lead after the first quarter. Carey Jr. and Doomes combined for 22 of the 26 first-quarter points — 11 each — and Carey Jr. had 17 by the half.