Impact Christian gave its unbeaten nationally ranked opponent a battle, but couldn’t keep the pace for all four quarters.
Orlando Christian Prep knocked off the Lions 51-32 to win the Class 2A state championship on Saturday morning at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The loss means that the area will have to wait until 2022 to end a state title drought. The last area team to win a boys hoops crown was Bolles in 2016.
Impact has been a repeat visitor to Lakeland and has no doubt positioned itself as a title contender. Saturday’s appearance was its third runner-up performance. It lost a 58-44 title game to OCP last year.
Impact (20-9) gave OCP a battle but couldn’t atone for long scoreless gaps that allowed a tight game to get away from it late. The Lions, who led briefly in the second quarter, scored just one basket in the final quarter on a basket by Ivan Lawson, to get within 42-32.
But Impact went the final seven and a half minutes without another point as OCP sealed its perfect season and stretched its winning streak to 47 games. Lawson led Impact in both points (17) and rebounds (seven). Taylor Thompson had 10 points for Impact.
It was a far better performance this time around than when the teams played in the regular season. OCP won that game by 30. And it cruised into the final against Impact on the heels of a 71-32 blowout of Grandview Prep in the state semifinals.
But Impact wasn’t about to go quietly in the championship, its third title game appearance in four seasons for coach Benjamin Jones and the Lions.
Impact trailed 28-21 at the break after OCP closed on an 8-0 run. But like the fourth quarter, the Lions struggled in the finish of the half. They went the final three minutes of the half without a point.