EASTPOINT — The Chipley Tigers got past the Franklin County Seahawks Tuesday night to earn a berth in the Class 1A boys basketball semifinals in Lakeland.
But it wasn’t without a fight in a 57-50 decision.
After opening the game with a pair of 3-pointers, Chipley led by just 20-18 at the half, and by 33-29 after three quarters.
It wasn’t until the Tigers reeled off four unanswered baskets, two off steals by junior guard Kelvin Dean, that they could gain separation and finally ensure a Region 2-1A championship.
"Two turnovers at the top of the key; they took the ball right out of our hands," first-year Franklin County coach Nathan West said. "We had only 11 turnovers, but we just had too many at the wrong time — that hurt us there."
Franklin County finished 13-17 after upsetting Baker in the semifinals to earn the right to host Chipley. The Tigers, 19-10, had fallen by 25 points to Baker in the District 3-1A final.
"We didn’t take care of the ball down the stretch," West said. "If we did that right there, it would be a different ballgame."
With five minutes left to play, the Seahawks started fouling and the Tigers sank only 9-21 free throws down the stretch.
That gave the Seahawks an outside chance and with 19 seconds left Seahawks junior guard Daijon Penamon, who led all scorers with 22 points, nailed a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 52-49.
"We missed a lot of free throws tonight but we made up for them at the defensive end," said Tigers coach Mike Gates, who went with a pesky man-to-man that kept the Seahawks off-balance most of the game.
"We played hard defense. They got after it," Gates said.
Senior point guard P.J. Spencer, who led the Tigers with 21 points, sank a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left.
Senior forward Dominic Bouton, who added 14 points, added two free throws and senior center Brian Williams made one of two to clinch the outcome.
As a team, however, Chipley only was 14-28 at the free-throw line.
The Seahawks were 9-13 and pulled down 26 rebounds. Only four, however, came on their offensive board.
"They probably had 11 or 12, that’s not good there," West said. "They got a lot of second-chance opportunities that hurt us down the stretch.
"That’s just an effort thing. They just outworked us, out-efforted us on the glass."
Blountstown 61, Bethlehem 57
The Tigers punched their ticket to Lakeland thanks to 31 points from senior guard KK Godwin, who outdueled Wildcats junior guard Jordan Sumner, who led Bethlehem with 26 points.
Blountstown (22-3) will take on Chipley on Monday in the 1A state semifinals. Bethlehem’s season ended 22-8.
Godwin scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half to give the Tigers a 33-26 lead at the break. The Tigers had a five-point lead at the end of the third quarter and never let the Wildcats get closer than three points in the fourth quarter.
Jamal Howard added 11 points for Blountstown, followed by Denzel Washington with 10 and Treven Smith with seven. Kobe Hendrix added 11 points for Bethlehem.