Impact Christian played Orlando Christian Prep in Friday Class 2A FHSAA boys basketball championship game.
LAKELAND – Two years ago, Impact Christian guard Jordin Jackson felt unsure what to expect playing in his first state championship game.
He came prepared and ready Friday in his second opportunity to play for a title.
Yet, Jackson still came up on the losing end, just like in 2018 when Impact Christian lost to Miami Christian.
The Lions battled but lost 58-44 to Orlando Christian Prep in the Class 2A boys basketball final at the RP Funding Center.
Impact Christian (19-9) was undone by a poor fourth-quarter start. Too many breakdowns defensively led to the Warriors’ 9-0 surge and a 42-34 lead.
"We were in perfect position to pull the game out, but things just didn’t go our way during a few plays down the stretch,’’ Impact Christian coach Ben Jones said. "When that happens, we have to find ways to try and cut it down a little bit. So we probably started rushing it a little bit more than should have, and it kind of slipped away.’’
The Lions were also impacted by guard Calvin Johnson playing only 10 minutes after spraining his ankle early in the game. He finished with three points and committed two turnovers.
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Jackson did what he could, finishing with a team-high 14 points. However, Orlando Christian Prep’s depth, interior scoring and rebounding were superior. The Warriors outrebounded the Lions 28-18 and shot 54 percent from the field (21 of 39).
The Warriors closed out the season with 20 consecutive wins, and they won their eighth state championship in 13 years.
Forward Ven Allen Lubin led Orlando Christian Prep with 16 points, and guard Eric Butler had 12.
"I was ready because I had been thinking about this since the last time [playing in the championship game],’’ said Jackson, who made 6-of-9 shots from the field.
The Lions couldn’t knock down shots on the perimeter, especially 3-pointers as they shot 3 of 22 for the game.
They missed eight of 10 3-pointers in the first half.
Impact Christian trailed for most of the third quarter, but Kelvin Johnson’s layup tied the score at 30 before Orlando Christian Prep regained the lead on a free throw and layup by Omar Figueroa.
But Jackson made the biggest shot in the quarter on a jumper just as time expired that gave Impact a 34-33 lead.
Orlando Christian Prep (29-2) exposed Impact Christian’s interior defensive flaws. The Lions didn’t rotate quickly enough to contest drives to the basket. Lubin got shots he desired, making all three shots in the first half for six points.
The Warriors took advantage of a 14-6 scoring edge in the post and 56 percent shooting (9 of 16) from the field to take a 23-20 halftime lead despite nine lead changes.
Early on, Impact Christian opted to initiate its offense high on the perimeter and made four to five passes before attempting a shot in going with its stall plan. The Lions took only five shots during the opening eight minutes of the game. Both teams combined to score 15 points in the first quarter, with Impact taking an 8-7 lead.