Bishop Kenny battles, but season ends in girls hoops state semifinal

Offense vanishes late for Crusaders in 44-32 loss to Lake Highland Prep

Bishop Kenny gave Lake Highland Prep everything it wanted in the girls basketball state semifinals.

The Crusaders took the top-ranked team in the nation down to the wire but came up short in a 44-32 loss in the Class 4A state semifinals on Thursday morning in Lakeland. It was just the fourth time all season that the Highlanders, MaxPreps’ No. 1 team, had been held to a margin of victory of 12 points or less.

In a rematch of last year’s title game, Kenny (20-10) made a fourth-quarter push to try and unseat the reigning state champs, only to be done in by a lack of offense. The Crusaders went more than six minutes without a point as their quest for an upset stalled out.

The Crusaders whittled down a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to 37-32 on a trey by Sydney Roundtree with six minutes and 20 seconds to play. Kenny just couldn’t close things any further. The Highlanders (18-0) chipped away after that and cranked up the defensive pressure. Kenny missed its next six shots and didn’t score the rest of the game.

Star guard and Miami signee Jasmyne Roberts had 12 points and six rebounds to lead Kenny in the final game of her high school career.

Turnovers proved the difference. Lake Highland Prep forced 18 Kenny giveaways and turned those into 28 points. The Crusaders managed just six points off of the Highlanders’ 10 turnovers.

Much like last season’s championship game against Lake Highland Prep, the Crusaders were right in the thick for much of the game. Kenny (20-10) trailed 25-19 at the break, similar to its four-point hole at intermission in 2020.

But just like in 2020, scoring lulls proved costly.

Turnovers and cold shooting stung the Crusaders. Kenny had three giveaways and had a couple shots blocked during the first five and a half minutes of the second half on Thursday before scoring as the Highlanders’ lead grew to 12. Kenny clawed its way back in the fourth, but another lull did it in.

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