The quest for a state championship will have to wait for Jackson.
The Tigers came up short in a 74-58 loss to Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian the Class 4A boys basketball state title game on Saturday afternoon at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. It was Jackson’s third trip to the championship game in the last four seasons, but the Tigers will take that title quest into 2023.
The title was the second straight for the Eagles (24-2).
Jackson has won five titles, tied for the most among area teams with now-defunct Arlington Country Day. The Tigers last won in 1993 when head coach James Collins was a senior.
While Jackson was able to maneuver a slow start in its semifinal win over St. Petersburg Gibbs on Thursday with a furious close, there was no margin for a lull against Calvary Christian.
The Tigers had no solution for Calvary’s size and strength in the paint.
And when Jackson did have opportunities, it often squandered them with turnovers.
Jackson got within 47-37 on a putback by Stephon Payne with 1:31 to play in the third quarter, but the Eagles methodically stretched the lead back out to as many as 17. When the Tigers pushed again in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 12, it followed with three straight turnovers. Calvary didn’t give Jackson another chance, slamming the door shut on the Tigers for another season.
Michael Swift had 14 points to lead the Tigers. Payne had 13 rebounds and nine points. The Eagles hammered Jackson on the interior, scoring 52 of their 74 points in the paint. Calvary went 0 of 10 from the 3-point arc.