It’s hard to beat a team three times.
And the South Walton Seahawks proved that adage true Monday night as they edged out the North Bay Haven Charter Academy Buccaneers 46-45 in the District 1-5A Boys Basketball semifinals in Panama City.
During the regular season, the Buccaneers beat the Seahawks 77-75 in December and then 66-64 in January.
But Monday it was the Seahawks who came out on top.
“It was our turn to win,” said South Walton Coach Craig Smith. “Our guys did a good job, working hard.
“We took a couple of stupid shots there at the end of the ball game that I wasn’t real happy about,” he added.
Nevertheless, Smith and the team, which came into the district tournament as the No. 5 seed, were excited about the win.
“I’m proud of these guys. We’re going to take five minutes and celebrate, then get ready for Catholic,” Smith said.
The Seahawks were scheduled to take on No. 1 seed Pensacola Catholic in another semifinal game at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Game results were not available at press time.
In Monday’s game, the Seahawks fell behind early. With the game deadlocked at 11-11, the Buccaneers made an eight-point run with Luke Brooks, Corey Turner and Michael McLaughlin driving the ball inside. In the final seconds, South Walton’s Jalier Ramos drilled a 3-pointer, his first of three for the game, to finish the first quarter down 19-14.
In the second quarter, the Buc’s pulled away 25-18 in the first three minutes before Chandler Johnston broke away for a layup on a turnover. The Buc’s picked up one more point from the foul line and Ramos made a jumper from the paint and then nailed another 3-pointer to close it down. With a one-point lead, North Bay Haven killed about a minute and a half off the clock to hold on to the 26-25 lead at the half.
The Seahawks didn’t waste any time taking the lead in the third quarter with Barrow Holloway sinking a 3-pointer followed by a driving layup by Hayden Stroop for a 30-26 advantage. North Bay got the lead back momentarily with a couple of free throws and two put back shots from Brooks for a 32-30 game. In the last two minutes, the Seahawks put up eight unanswered points to go up 38-32. Caleb Donaldson made a free throw, and then Ramos put a rebound back for two points. Barrett Waldrop dropped one in from the paint and Ramos made his third 3-pointer of the night.
In the fourth quarter, the Seahawks hung on for the win. Halfway through the period, the Hawks were up 44-37. The Bucs made a little run with Ty Boles making a steal for two points followed by a long shot from Turner and a free throw for a 44-42 game.
With 1:23 left on the clock, South Walton’s Cade Rowland was fouled and hit both shots. However, the Bucs went right back down the floor with Turner drilling a 3-pointer with just over a minute to go. South Walton was still on top 46-45.
In the last few seconds both teams had chances to put more points on the board from the foul line but missed.
For the game, South Walton was led by Ramos with 11 points. Johnston scored eight, while Tisdale hit for six and Holloway six. Scoring in double digits for North Bay Haven was Turner with 11 and Wesley Wilmot with 10.