7A: Late Rally Sparks St. Pete to Finals
Travis Bianco made it clear.
The St. Petersburg High senior didn’t think his Green Devils “stole” the win away from Tallahassee Lincoln in the Class 7A state semifinals on Friday. Bianco, who hit four 3-pointers, knew his team took its first and only lead of the game with 1:13 to go.
But that lead stood, and after a 71-65 win at The Lakeland Center, St. Pete will play in the state title game for the first time since 1952 against Pampano Beach Blanche Ely on Saturday at 4:05 p.m.
“We earned it,” said Bianco. “We were down the whole game practically, but we didn’t panic once. We just knew that something had to go our way eventually at the end of the game and we were just going to keep fighting no matter what.”
The Green Devils got that from junior guard Darius Banks, but it was Bianco’s shooting that kept them afloat. The Eckerd commit scored all 22 of his points in the first three quarters and it was collection of hustle plays that spurred St. Pete’s late rally.
Reserve Antwoine Reid scored five quick points to tie the score at 58 with 4:56 to go.
Lincoln countered with forward Dwight Wilson. The junior scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds but, up 64-63 with 1:40 to go, split a pair of free throws.
That left the door open for St. Pete as Banks’ 3-pointer gave them a 64-63 lead with 1:13 to go. He iced the game with a pair of free throws before throwing down a thunderous dunk with 29 seconds to go.
After scoring 15 points and handing out four assists in the first half, Lincoln guard Kyle Kincey was shut down in the latter half. He was held to just four points and two turnovers.
“They played magnificent. They made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” said Trojans coach Dimitric Salters. “I thought we gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for in a game of this magnitude.”