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December 28, 2012
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OCALA -- The thing that makes the Kentucky high school basketball finals such a great thing is that all teams regardless of class compete in the Sweet 16 with a chance to be crowned the only state champion in boys' basketball.
Big or small, every team has the same opportunity and the same goal.
The same can be said for this year's Kingdom of the Sun tournament at Ocala Vanguard.
Class 8A Deerfield Beach has reached the semifinals of the 16-team tournament, along with Ballard of Louisville (KY), Cincinnati LaSalle (OH) and tiny West Gadsden of Greensboro (FL).
The Class 1A Panthers knocked off the host Vanguard Knights, 61-60, giving West Gadsden wins over teams in Classes 6A & 7A, respectively. They beat Ocala Forest, 66-59, in double overtime on Wednesday night.
Senior point guard Brandon Shingles drove down the lane and dropped in the winning shot just before the buzzer, after Vanguard's Princeton McQuay had hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Knights (6-4) a 60-59 lead.
Shingles almost single-handedly led the Panthers (10-3) to the victory with 21 of his tournament-high 35 points in the fourth quarter.
Now, they face Ballard with a spot in the championship game on the line.
Ironically, the Bruins (8-3), who advanced with a 64-57 win against Morgan County (GA), are the top overall team in the Kentucky hoops rankings. They know all about all-classification tournaments.
Fresh off his 32-point and 16-rebound performance the previous night, Kelan Martin scored 21 points to help defeat the Bulldogs (8-3).
Cincinnati LaSalle, which is attempting to tie Vanguard's mark of three Kingdom titles, used a 29-point third quarter, outscoring Gainesville 29-8, en route to a 65-49 win over the 6A Hurricanes (9-4).
Jeffrey Larkin knocked down four threes in the third quarter on the way to a game-high 24 points.
In the other quarterfinal, Deerfield Beach (18-1) got past Orlando Boone, 46-37, in a match-up of top 10 programs in Florida's largest classification.
Four teams (Orlando Lake Highland Prep, Miami Senior, Bonifay Holmes County and Plantation American Heritage) were eliminated from the tournament, which concludes on Saturday.
In a match-up of top five teams in the consolation bracket, Pedro Lalor (15 points) hit a three with 21-seconds left to lead 8A Orlando Dr. Phillips to a 70-69 win over 3A American Heritage. The Panthers (9-4) rallied from a 10-point deficit.
Here are the results from Day #2, along with Friday's schedule:
Thursday, December 27 - Day #2
Friday, December 28 - Day #3