Tallahassee Rickards used a 13-1 run in the third quarter to take control of the game, and they went on to defeat Sebring, 59-44, on Thursday afternoon in the Class 5A state semifinals at the RP Funding Center.

LAKELAND — The third quarter has been a bit of a problem for Tallahassee Rickards in recent games, but not on Thursday.


The Raiders used a 13-1 run in the third quarter to take control of the game, and they went on to defeat Sebring 59-44 Thursday afternoon in the Class 5A state semifinals at the RP Funding Center.


Rickards (20-7) will play in the championship game at 3 p.m. on Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s second 5A semifinal between Pembroke Pines Charter and Naples.


The Raiders went into the third quarter leading 25-24. When Sebring’s Tavion Coston scored early in the third quarter, he made it a one-point game one last time with Rickards leading 31-30. Ke’Various Taylor answered with a field goal that sparked a 13-1 run by Rickards, putting the Raiders up 44-31.


"It was focus, because usually, the third quarter has been our Achilles’ heal," Rickards coach Eli Bryant said. "The last third quarter we played, we had turnovers to start the third quarter. We mentioned that, we harped on that, we just asked them to focus and be focused when they come out. Understand the game was not over and this was not a team that was going to just lie down, you had to knock them down."


Sebring used strong defense to keep the game close in the first half but couldn’t maintain the effort.


"We broke down defensively," Sebring coach Princeton Harris said. "We had been playing great defense up to that point, but we had some lapses and turned the ball over."


Sebring managed to make it a nine-point game after three quarters. Unlike the first half when Rickards let Sebring back in the game after a quick start, the Raiders opened up the fourth quarter with seven consecutive points and put the game away.


"Like coach said, we continued to stay focused, and we expected to play a hard game," junior forward Khamari McGriff said.


Zackary White led Raiders with 20 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 10 of 21 from the field.


"We’re used to it," Bryant said. "That’s what I expect from him."


White also held Sebring’s leading scorer, Alvin Tumblin, who is averaging 20.9 points, to just 10 points.


White had plenty of help. A’Drelin Robinson scored 16 points. Taylor finished with eight points and 12 rebounds, and McGriff finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and a game-high nine blocks. Rickards dominated the boards, outrebounding Sebring 53-30.


"It’s written on the board in our locker room: Defend, rebound, make free throws and you’ll probably win the game," Bryant said. "Rebounding is one of the biggest parts of basketball because that means if we’re rebounding defensively, they’re not getting a second shot. If we’re rebounding offensively, we’re getting a second shot."


Rickards began the game looking to take control of the game from the start. The Raiders scored the first nine points, but Sebring rallied and trailed by four after the first quarter. The Blue Streaks their only lead of the game 24-23 on Ryan Brown’s basket at 1:24 of the second quarter. White scored the last two points of the half to give the Raiders a 25-24 lead.


Ryan Brown led Sebring with 17 points. He had a game-high six steals but also committed five turnovers.


SEBRING (44) Michael Sholtz 0-10 2-4 2, Kevion Hester 0-0 0-2 0, Eric Brown 3-10 1-1 8, Ryan Brown 6-11 3-5 17, Marshall O'hern 0-0 0-0 0, Will Desources 0-5 0-0 0, Tavion Coston 2-5 2-3 7, Alvin Tumblin 4-15 2-3 10, Bo Riley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-57 10-18 44


RICKARDS (59) Myles Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Damaren Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Kent Carroll 0-1 0-0 0, Ke'Varius Taylor 2-10 3-6 8, A'Drelin Robinson 5-11 5-9 16, Vershon Dupont 0-1 0-0 0, Zackary White 10-21 0-0 20, Gentry Sparks 1-4 4-5 6, Khamari McGriff 3-5 1-2 7, Tavion Enzor 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-54 13-22 59


Sebring;10;14;11;9;—44


Rickards;14;11;19;15;—59


FG%: Sebring .263, Rickards .407. 3-pt FG: Sebring 4-17 (Sholtz 0-1, Brown 1-4, Brown 2-4, Desources 0-3, Coston 1-4, Tumblin 0-1), Rickards 2-11 (Taylor 1-5, Robinson 1-2, Dupont 0-1, White 0-2, Sparks 0-1). Rebounds: Sebring 30 (Tumblin 11), Rickards 53 (Taylor 12). Fouls: Sebring 18, Rickards 17. Fouled out: none. Technical: none. Assists: Sebring 7 (Sholtz 2, Coston 2), Rickards 5 (Robinson 3). Steals: Sebring 9 (Brown 6), Rickards 8 (Robinson 3, Sparks 3). Blocked shots: Sebring 4 (Tumblin 3), Rickards 10 (McGriff 9). Turnovers: Sebring 13, Rickards 15. Attendance: n/a.