Westminster Academy started and ended No. 1.
Top-ranked Westminster rode Zach Scott’s hot hand to knock off Oviedo Master’s Academy 89-64 and capture back-to-back FHSAA Class 4A boys’ state championships on Thursday at the RP Funding Center.
“It has been a year where we’ve been the hunted all year because we won last year,” said Fort Lauderdale Westminster coach Ehren Wallhoff, whose team trailed 13-10 at the end of the first quarter. “I knew it was going to be a battle.
“When they started out in the first quarter and got the lead on us and we sat down at the beginning of the second quarter, it was, ‘Hey, we are going to get this.’ And they were ready.”
This was Westminster Academy’s third consecutive state championship game. The Lions lost in 2016 and beat Jacksonville Providence in the 2017 title game. Wallhoff said the loss in 2016 fueled back-to-back titles.
“Three years ago, that feeling we left here with, it was one of those we are never [losing] this again. We are going to fight and it give it everything we got and not leave anything on the court,” said Wallhoff, who picked up his 302nd career victory.
“Last year, we conquered it and said, ‘Wow, that was fun.’ This year we were the team to beat and were ranked No. 1 by Max Preps all year in our classification.”
Scott finished with 35 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals. He had 20 points by the half and scored all 10 of Westminster’s first-quarter points.
“I was just playing ball. This is my last game and I just wasn’t going to quit,” said Scott, who signed a letter of intent with Florida Gulf Coast. “I want to give credit to my teammates. They helped me.”
Westminster clinched iced the game when Sam Griffin launched an alley-oop pass toward the hoop but the ball hit the backboard and fell in for a three-pointer and a 68-53 lead with 5:58 left in the third quarter. It was the start of a personal 7-0 run by Griffin that increased Westminster’s lead to 72-53.
“I work on that play all the time in practice,” Griffin said. “I tried to throw it to my teammate, but it ended up straight in the hoop. It is what it is.”
Westminster (22-6) played seven nationally ranked teams this season, including Montverde Academy — ranked No. 1 by USA Today’s Expert Poll — and fourth-ranked Shadow Mountain of Phoenix.
“We put together the toughest schedule we could play, and I think it really showed in this weekend’s games because even when it got close, our guys just had that extra gear,” Wallhoff said.
Griffin finished with 19 points and seven assists. Dudley Blackwell added 14 and Chase Johnston 13 for Westminster. Griffin and Johnston had three three-pointers.
Sixth-ranked Master’s Academy (23-7) was led by Jose Placer with 24 points, three steals and three assists. Joseph French scored 12 and Matthew Gillis and Corey Sawyer Jr. each had six.
“They were very good offensively and we wanted to limit their transition points,” Master’s head coach Reggie Kohn said. “I know we had 10 turnovers at halftime, which hurt us. Sometimes we couldn’t get a shot off. We knew we had to score and it was going to be a tough game. But that is why [Westminster] is here.”