SEBRING - The Sebring Blue Streaks utilized their athleticism and depth to knock off Hardee by a score of 73-55 in the semifinals of the Class 5A-District 11 tournament on Tuesday night.
The win improved the Blue Streaks to 16-6 on the season and puts them in the district finals on Friday night against Lemon Bay.
"It wasn't the prettiest game but we're into the finals," said Sebring basketball coach Princeton Harris. "We were able to play a lot of guys and I did some things differently because Lemon Bay had some scouts here and I didn't want to show them anything.
"We were able to rest some of our guys and make sure we have fresh legs for Friday night."
Sebring started the game strong against the smaller Wildcats as Keizhan Hester scored five points, including a 3-pointer, and Jordan Strickland nailed a 3-pointer to give the Blue Streaks a 17-11 lead over Hardee heading to the second quarter.
The Wildcats went ice cold from the floor and Sebring utilized a tenacious full-court press to force numerous turnovers which were converted into easy baskets.
CJ Harris scored four points and Terrell Williams added three of his 10 points as the Blue Streaks built a commanding 33-13 lead at the half.
"I like where we're at as a team," said Harris. "We're playing good defense, executing on offense and not making the silly mistakes we made earlier in the season."
Sebring steadily pulled away in the third quarter as Connor Cook scored four of his 13 points and Hester added three of his team-high 15 points for a comfortable 49-32 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Hardee refused to fold and made a run against the Sebring backups as Des Youte poured in six of his game-high 19 points in the finalperiod, but the deficit was too large to overcome as time ran out on the Wildcats season.
Sebring, the No. 1 seed, will host No. 2 seed Lemon Bay on Friday night for the district championship.
Lemon Bay beat DeSoto 61-52 in Tuesday night's other semifinal.
The Blue Streaks swept the Manta Rays during the regular season and Harris is confident his talented squad can earn the hat trick with a third victory.
"Lemon Bay has some real good shooters, they are fundamentally sound and they're going to get after us,"Harris said. "We beat them by double digits in both games during the regular season and if we come ready to play and do what we're supposed to do we'll be fine."
The district champion earns a home game in the regional quarterfinals while the district runner-up goes on the road.
"Our goal is to win the district championship and earn a home game in the playoffs," Harris said. "I know we'll be ready and we're looking for a big crowd to come out and support us."