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Florida High wins its first boys basketball state championship in decades

Florida High vs. Bulldogs final score graphic
Florida High

Florida High reached the pinnacle on Friday evening. The Seminoles (24-7) won their first FHSAA boys basketball state championship in 59 years with their 67-66 victory over Miami Riviera Prep (24-8).

The Class 3A championship game was decided in the waning moments. The Seminoles, buoyed by a difficult schedule, and an experienced lineup held off Riviera Prep’s fourth-quarter flurry.

The teams were tied at 28-all at halftime. Florida High used a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter to lead by as many as 11.

Trey Card’s bucket with 7:47 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Seminoles a 53-41 advantage. From there, Riviera Prep whittled away at the deficit, closing the Seminoles lead to 53-52 with 5:45 to play.The Bulldogs would not get any closer.

Florida High junior Anthony Robinson, snared an offensive rebound, was fouled and converted both free throws at the line to give the Seminoles a 55-52 advantage with 5:13 to play.

Down the stretch, Florida High leaned on its Robinson and Donaldson, just as they have all season.

Donaldson provided six points, two rebounds and two assists in his final five minutes as a Florida High basketball player. The senior finished with a team-leading 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Seminoles shot 54.3 percent from the field in Friday’s title game. Anthony Robinson made six of his 11 shots to finish with 19 points. Thaddeus Burns scored 10 points. Miles Evora finished with six points, Christian Johnson and TJ Baker scored four apiece. Meanwhile, Trey Card’s only points of the game kicked off a fourth quarter no one in garnet and gold will soon forget.

Prior to Friday’s triumph, the Seminoles' last victory at the boy's basketball state tournament came in 1963 when they defeated Baldwin 62-52 in Gainesville.

This year’s Florida High team closed the season by winning 12 consecutive games. The last team to beat the Seminoles, Orlando Christian Prep, will play for the Class 2A state championship on Saturday afternoon.

The Seminoles defeated five private schools en route to the crown. They are the first public school to win the FHSAA Class 3A state championship since Rickards in 2011.

Florida High’s Road to Glory

District 1-3A Tournament

Florida High 61, Pensacola Catholic 15

Florida High 59, Maclay 52

Region 1-3A Tournament

Florida High 68, Maclay 39

Florida High 75, Windermere Prep 44

Florida High 45, Providence 41

FHSAA Class 3A State Tournament

Florida High 60, Tampa Catholic 57

Florida High 67, Miami Riviera Prep 66

Will Brown has served as a reporter at newspapers in Florida and Texas since 2007. He has earned journalism degrees from Florida A&M University and the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg. He is based in Fleming Island.