LAKELAND - Behind 19 first half points from Keyshawn Evans, Plantation American Heritage cruised to its first boys basketball state title on Saturday in record-breaking fashion.
Evans finished with a team-high 25 points as the Patriots rolled up a state final record 98 points to defeat St. Petersburg Lakewood 98-70 in the FHSAA Class 5A state championship game at the Lakeland Center.
Evans's hot start helped the Patriots (25-7) claim a state title which had eluded them in the past two trip to the state final four.
Evans jumpstarted the Patriots with 11 of the Patriots first 23 points as Heritage built a 28-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. With Evans hitting 4 of 4 field goals, including 3 of 3 from three-point range, Heritage shot a scorching 73 percent from the field during that stretch.
With the outcome long decided, the Heritage starters, huddled together at the end of the Heritage bench, counted down the final seconds before storming onto the Lakeland court to celebrate.
The Patriots started an impromptu dance before falling on the floor in unison and then thrusting up their index fingers to indicate they were finally No. 1.
Justin Massey had 17 points and his twin, Jason added 15 points for the Patriots. Senior 6-10 center Drake Lamont added 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Since returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss the 2012-13 post season Evans played a supporting role. That all changed on Saturday when Evans announced his return to the elite in emphatic fashion.
After Lakewood star guard Jacobi Boykins converted a putback to pull Lakewood within 30-21 with 7:12 left in the second quarter, Evans erased any hope for a Lakewood comeback by capping a 24-10 Heritage blitz with back-to-back three-pointers to give Heritage a 54-31 halftime lead.
The Patriots came into Lakeland battle tested which ultimately helped them overwhelm Rutherford 74-47 and then Lakewood in the final four.
Heritage survived the toughest District in Florida - 16-5A which featured four teams ranked in the top 7 in 5A and then won three consecutive road regional playoff games to earn its shot at redemption in Lakeland.
Jason Massey put the finishing touch on the surprising runaway victory by throwing down a two handed dunk while being fouled to give the Patriots a 94-67 lead with 2:46 left.
Class 5A state championship game
American Heritage 98, St. Petersburg Lakewood 70
Lakewood: (21-11): Boykins 28, Clark 9, Lawrence 18, Ellison 12, Watson 2, West 1. AH (28-7): Evans 25, Justin Massey 17, Jason Massey 15, Borders 13, Osceola 8, Lamont 12, Mullings 6, Hall 2. Three-pointers: Evans 5, Justin Massey 2, Borders 3, Boykins 1, Ellison 3. Rebounds: Lamont 9, Jason Massey 7. Steals: Osceola 3. Assists: Justin Massey 7, Evans 6, Jason Massey 5.