Though the Plant City Raiders went down Friday night, they made sure not to go down without a fight.
A strong fourth quarter effort from Plant City had the crowds on both sides of the court on their feet in anticipation of a win that, unfortunately for the hosting team, didn’t materialize. Tampa Bay Tech found its footing in the last two minutes of the game to win the 8A-District 9 title, 56-47.
The two teams played a mostly even first half and Tech headed into the locker room at halftime with a slim 28-25 lead. The Titans took over in the third quarter with a 7-0 run to start things off, and eventually took a 39-29 lead. Plant City tried to push the tempo and get quick scores to get back in it, but the Titans took advantage of mistakes and ended the quarter with a 45-31 lead.
Drew Walden helped spark the PCHS offense in the fourth quarter, scoring five points under the basket and at the free throw stripe and throwing a perfect pass to a cutting Mykel Oyola for a layup that got the Raider fans back in the game in full force. With four points from Jadyn Strawder and Justyn King, the Raiders were able to cut the deficit to just five points — 47-42 — and Tech began to get sloppy. Though the Titans were able to regularly draw fouls and get to the free throw line, no one could sink a foul shot until there was just over a minute left to play. Another Oyola layup and a made free throw by King brought the Raiders within two points, 47-45, and things looked good for the hosting team.
That’s when the Titans woke up. Tech answered King’s free throw with a 9-2 scoring run, starting with a quick three-pointer to go up 50-45. Tech got to the free throw line four more times and sank four of their seven shots, and Plant City went 2-for-4 with King draining both of his attempts.