LAKELAND, Fla. – It was the eight minutes changed everything.
Locked in a four-point game at halftime and going basket for basket with hoops giant Lake Highland Prep, Bishop Kenny was right where it wanted to be in the Class 4A girls basketball championship.
Everything changed in a hurry.
A rough third quarter knocked the Crusaders out of the game in a 61-46 loss to the nationally ranked Highlanders on Saturday afternoon at the RP Funding Center.
Kenny (22-10) stood sole to sole with the Highlanders (30-2) — MaxPreps’ No. 18 team in the nation — for a half and closed out strong in the fourth.
It was the third quarter that put an abrupt halt to a championship run.
Lake Highland turned up the defensive pressure, pressing more and using its size in the paint to flip the game. Two Kenny turnovers and a pair of missed shots led to a 7-0 Highlanders’ spurt over the first three minutes. The Crusaders would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Jasmyne Roberts had another stout game in the state round for Kenny, going for 21 points. She had 23 in the semifinal win over Cocoa.
Lake Highland neutralized Roberts after the break, limiting her to just a pair of field goals as its focus shifted on limiting her touches. Maddie Millar had 10 points for Kenny and Rose Dolmovich came off the bench to knock down a pair of 3-points and finish with six points.
Loss aside, it’s been a major shift for Kenny girls basketball over the past two seasons.
After going 27 years without reaching the state series round, the Crusaders have now played for back-to-back state championships.