Zach Scott finished off his high school career with a 35-point effort, and Westminster Academy is back-to-back state champions in Class 4A.
The Lions capped a second consecutive title run with an 89-64 win over Oviedo Master’s Academy on Thursday afternoon at RP Funding Center. It’s their third championship all time, also winning it all in 2002.
Scott, the senior guard and FGCU signee scored in every which way – layups on the fast break and in half-court sets, going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and even crashing the offensive boards for a couple of put-backs.
“I give credit to my teammates. They helped me. I can’t do it without them,” Scott said. “It’s my last year. I’m just happy we got the job done.”
Junior guard Sam Griffin scored 19 and Chase Johnston added 13. Sophomore Dudley Blackwell, who had a triple-double in Wednesday’s semifinal, put the exclamation point on the title game with back-to-back alley-oop slams in the fourth quarter that opened up a 20-point advantage.
“Great feeling. It doesn’t feel real. I still don’t feel real,” said Blackwell, who finished with 14.
The Lions (23-6) moved the ball extremely well. Scott, Griffin, Johnston and Blackwell combined for 23 of their 25 assists.
Westminster proved it could repeat playing a different style this season. It lost 6-foot-10 Paul Atkinson and 6-foot-8 Jason Strong off last year’s title-winning team, and this season did it with more of a small-ball brand.
The Lions first took a double-digit lead in the second quarter following a 9-0 run. They went into the half up 35-23 as they won the quarter 25-13. Scott scored 16 of the Lions’ first 18 points and had 20 at halftime.
“We sat down at the beginning of the second quarter and just said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to buckle down,’” said coach Ehren Wallhoff, who earlier this postseason earned his 300th career win. “The boys looked at me, and they were ready.”
Westminster trailed 13-10 at the end of the first quarter, withstanding a 7-0 Master’s run during the frame. Scott scored all 10 for the Lions in the first.
Last year, Westminster topped Jacksonville Providence 57-43 for the state crown. On top of winning two straight, Thursday marked the third consecutive title game the Lions played in. In 2016, they fell to Windermere Prep 62-58.
“That feeling that we left here with was one of those that, ‘We’re never doing this again. We’re going to fight with everything we got and not leave anything on the court,’” said Wallhoff.