LAKELAND, Fla. – The Bishop Kenny girls basketball team is still going strong.
One game left for another piece of history. One more game to join the recordbooks.
Kenny edged Bradenton Southeast 49-48 in the Class 6A state semifinals on Wednesday night at the Lakeland Center in a game that was tight from open to close. Jasmyne Roberts hit a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left and Cara McCarthy came away with a decisive turnover with 6 seconds to play to send the Crusaders into the final.
“Literally the last six games have come down to like 30 seconds so we’re prepared and we’re ready," Roberts said. "We know these late game situations and we practice them a lot so were not scared. … The game speed situations, we’re prepared for them.”
It's been a long, long time in the making.
Kenny last played for a state championship nearly 27 years ago. The Crusaders last won a state semifinal game on March 5, 1992 against Glades Central, and then beat Tavares 66-52 on March 7, 1992, the last of Kenny’s three consecutive state titles.
The Crusaders (29-2) will face Plantation American Heritage at 7 p.m. on Thursday night for the title.
“We’re trying to make history, we did, but were trying to get the championship and take that No. 1 trophy home,” Roberts said.
It was a battle from open to close against Southeast (26-5).
Kenny edged in front 47-44 on a basket by Roberts with 1:47 to play, but Southeast chipped away after that, going in front on an A’moni Waters bucket in the paint with 52 seconds left for a 48-47 lead.
But Roberts saved her most clutch for the finish, hitting both free throws with 13.7 seconds to play and tipping a ball a the other end of the court on the ensuing possession that McCarthy came up with to ice it. Roberts finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Crusaders.
“I was confident I would make the second one, I just knew," Roberts said. "The first free throw is always the hardest."
Kenny was 11 of 12 from the free throw line. Rose Dolmovich added 14 points and Maddie Millar followed with nine for Kenny. The largest lead of the game was five points, a 32-27 Kenny edge midway through the second quarter and that flipped in a hurry.
The Crusaders are ready for their shot at history. And with a game of experience in Lakeland to its credit, Kenny is ready for the final act.
“We’ve got to go in tomorrow with confidence,” Millar said. “Our shots probably aren’t going to be like that again. We have got the feel of the rims now … I think our team is just ready to go.”