FROSTPROOF - The Avon Park Red Devils scored the first 12 points of the game and never looked back in rolling past Lake Placid by a score of 69-39 in the semifinals of the boys Class 4A-District 9 tournament on Tuesday night.
With the win, Avon Park improved its record to 18-7 and earned a spot in the district championship game on Friday night against Frostproof.
"We really emphasized to get the ball inside and attack from the inside out," said Avon Park oach Marty O'Hora. "We were a very perimeter oriented team in the last game we played, taking a lot of three point shots, we took very few tonight."
That plan of attack in combination with Avon Park's tough defensive play helped the Red Devils build an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
That trend continued in the second period as Avon Park increased its lead to 32-13 before the Green Dragons scored the last six points of the half to trim the Red Devils lead to 32-19.
"We just did not shoot well tonight," said Lake Placid coach Dan Coomes. "Nothing was going in and when you are not scoring any points at all everybody gets demoralized."
Lake Placid, which finished the season at 5-20, started the second half with a quick basket, but the game quickly reverted to the way it was in the first half as Avon Park went on a 17-2 run to take a commanding 49-23 lead.
"We had open looks and we did not make them," said Coomes. "I don't know how many we had bounce inside the rim and bounce out, it's like being snake bit."
That trend continued throughout the game as Avon Park crashed the offensive boards against the Lake Placid zone defense to swallow up rebounds.
The Red Devils led 53-32 at the end of the third period and did not slow down the pace in the final period as they out scored Lake Placid 16-7 to clinch a 69-39 win.
Plagued by injuries all year long, Lake Placid finished the year strong winning three of four games before their encounter with Avon Park and Coomes noted that they were not able to play enough games to build a strong chemistry on the court.
"We were there and still not quite there," said Coomes. "But they are a good bunch of kids and a lot of them will be back next year."
Avon Park played a solid game and is peaking at the right time.
"We crashed the boards hard, pounded the ball inside and we really passed the ball well tonight," said O'Hora. "One of the few games this year where we had almost everybody with a few assists and looking for each other. They really looked like a team out there and this is the time of the year when you need to play your best ball."
The second semifinal game of the night pitted the 12-11 Frostproof Bulldogs against the second seed 16-4 McKeel Wildcats.
Frostproof upset pulled off the upset with a 78-71 win.
Wildcat coach Terry Jenkins said before the game that his team has the ability to score a lot of points quickly, but has trouble playing defense.
The Wildcat defense played well in the first half, but it was their offense that struggled as Frostproof went into the half with a 24-23 lead.
Frostproof continued to stymie the McKeel offense in the third period as they held the Wildcats to 11 points while scoring 20 to take a 44-34 lead heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was a shootout as McKeel poured in 37 points in the final eight minutes as Jenkins statement about his team being capable of scoring a lot of points quickly became veritable.
The problem was that his statement about his team playing defense also became accurate as Frostproof kept pace with the Wildcats by scoring 34 points, never allowing McKeel any closer than four points in a 78-71 win to send Frostproof into the district finals.
The championship game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Frostproof High School.