This week's crime report for Clay County Florida, provided by the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
LAKELAND - The expected fast start of the Oakleaf High girls basketball team never materialized as Charlotte took hold of a 20-12 early lead and never let the Lady Knights dent the lead en route to a …
LAKELAND - The expected fast start of the Oakleaf High girls basketball team never materialized as Charlotte took hold of a 20-12 early lead and never let the Lady Knights dent the lead en route to a 54-47 Class 6A state semifinal win Wednesday in Lakeland. Note: Charlotte eventually lost in the Class 6A final to defending champion St. Thomas Aquinas, 67-43.
“We just didn’t play well and turned the ball over uncharacteristically,” said Oakleaf coach Fred Cole. “Most of them were unforced turnovers. We had two people foul out and we just didn’t play well.”
The loss was the second state semifinal loss in four years for the Cole, who will see his senior leaders; Fantasia James, Kaylah Turner and Kamiyah Jones, all leave a legacy of their high-energy attack on the court the past four years.
Cole had had the much-talented services of guards Kaylah Turner and Fantasia James at his behest to battle enemy lineups with their fast starts, suffocating defense and smooth shooting while Jones had a late season car wreck that ended her season with injuries to her legs, neck and torso.
“Fantasia is probably the most gifted shooter that I have ever coached,” said Cole. “I don’t think as an end of an era with Kaylah (guard Kaylah Turner) and Fantasia (forward Fantasia James) leaving us, but I don’t think the program will fall off a cliff.”
Cole noted Charlotte’s attack was a little more intense that what the Knights have faced en route to the Final Four ticket and that may have been a factor.
“I call them run stoppers and run starters; both could stop the other team’s best player while also starting runs to keep our games going,” said Cole. “They both thrive on the challenge and that final segment where we got to five points showed off their grit. Those two brought a leadership to the team that will be hard to find.”
Charlotte, with their own Final Four trips of the last two years, fought off the Knights late fourth quarter run that got the score to five points, but with foul shots keeping Oakleaf at bay. Charlotte, 22-6, was to face defending 6A champion St. Thomas Aquinas in the final. St. Thomas Aquinas beat Lake Gibson 77-35 in their semifinal.
For Cole, it was James who emerged as the firebrand for the Knights with 26 points leading all scorers with 11 rebounds. Turner and guard Trista Brown eventually fouled out to stifle any late game heroics. In total, the Knights, known for their steal and deal to layup scheme, shot an unorthodox 26 percent for the contest.
Oakleaf finishes at 26-3.
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