Oakleaf can’t catch up to Tampa Plant in girls hoops state semifinals

The best season in Oakleaf girls basketball history finished two wins short of a state championship.

The Knights started fast but cooled off after that in a 69-52 loss to Tampa Plant in the Class 7A state semifinals at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland on Friday afternoon.

The Knights, who had never been past the second round of the playoffs until this season’s record run, finish their season 24-3. It marked the final game of the year for area girls teams. Both Bishop Kenny and St. Augustine dropped their state semifinal games on Thursday.

Oakleaf had a strong start, digging out of a brief hole and catching up midway through the opening quarter and getting within 32-31 with just over three minutes to play before halftime. But Plant took control for good in the second half.

The Panthers crushed the Knights in the paint. Plant had a 46-19 rebound advantage. Kendal Sheesman, the Vanderbilt-bound forward, pulled in 16 of those boards and added 21 points. Nyla Jean led Plant with 26 points.

Oakleaf guard Taliah Scott had 26 points and Fantasia James added 15. Both of those players are sophomores and return in 2022 to try and help to Knights contend for a state championship.


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