LAKELAND – Hawthorne may be on the verge of its second state championship, but it has to clash with an old foe first.


Hawthorne held off Paxton 70-58 on Wednesday in an FHSAA Class 1A state basketball semifinal at the RP Funding Center.


The Hornets (24-3) now advance to face Hilliard (23-3) in the 1A state championship game at 7 p.m. Friday. Hilliard advanced after topping Vernon 80-59 in an earlier semifinal.


"Hilliard is a great ball club," Hawthorne head coach Greg Bowie said. "They had been in our district for the last 10 or 12 years. This is the first year they have not been in our district since I have been coaching. I was kind of happy when they got out of my district because I didn’t want to have to face them three times a year. We haven’t seen each other all year, and so now we get a chance to see them."


Hawthorne was led by Torey Buie with 32 points and five rebounds. Additionally, Donovan Wright scored hauled down 14 rebounds while scoring seven points.


"Our defense has been our strength this year. We are not a big-scoring team in the half-court set," Bowie said. "In the first half we really didn’t give them a lot of open looks."


Alonzo Wright scored 19 and Conner Varnum 18 to lead Paxton (22-6).


Hawthorne, which won its first boys basketball state title in 1987, took a 24-12 halftime lead after Buie scored 13 points while hauling down five rebounds in the half.


"They just physically pushed us out," Paxton head coach Jeff Bradley said. "There is only going to be one happy team at the end of this and obviously it didn’t work out for us today.


"They only had 24 at the half so we weren’t overly concerned with what they were doing but more about what we were not doing."


Hawthorne had jumped out to an 11-5 first-quarter lead after getting nine points from Buie in the period. He was 4 of 7 from the field during the run.


Paxton entered the game winning 17 of its past 18 games. It has won two state championships in its history, 1962 and 1955.


Bill Kemp can be reached at Bill.Kemp@theledger.com; follow him on Twitter @BillKempSports