SEFFNER — Academy at the Lakes boys basketball coach Tom Haslam figured his team was deserving of some basketball karma Friday.
In the past week, the Wildcats have played in seven overtime periods, including a five-overtime loss to Cambridge Christian.
And with nine seconds left in the first round of the Seffner Christian Academy Christmas Classic against Bloomingdale, Haslam’s team was rewarded.
Senior Ahkil McGill hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Wildcats a 63-62 win against the Bulls to advance to tonight’s boys championship at 7:30.
Academy at the Lakes (6-2) will face host Seffner Christian, which defeated International Community, 77-61, in the other boys first-round game.
“I think we earned a lucky shot,” Haslam said.
The Wildcats squandered a 20-point lead and allowed Bloomingdale to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. On the winning play, the Wildcats lost control of the ball, retrieved it, had a 3-point attempt blocked, and somehow, the ball fell into the hands of McGill.
Wildcats senior Malik Hall led all scorers with 28 points, while Ethan Haslam, Pasco County’s leading scorer, finished with 16. Bloomingdale senior center George Brammeier, who will play for Division I Lipscomb next year, led the Bulls with 25 points and 17 rebounds.
Senior guard Eric McGee led Seffner Christian (6-4) with 23 points before fouling out of the game, while Kent Hegarty added 18 points. Derek Webster had 13 points and Johnny Carter led International Community with 19 points.
In the girls bracket, Kissimmee Osceola and Seffner Christian advanced to tonight’s girls championship at 6 in dominating fashion. Osceola defeated Lakeland, 58-12, while the Crusaders, the fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, won 66-8 against Punta Gorda Charlotte. Four players scored in double figures for Seffner Christian, led by junior forward Peyton Walker’s game-high 20 points.
The Crusaders will use this weekend’s tournament as a springboard for next week’s LandAir Tournament, a national invitational in Greeneville, Tenn.
“Those teams are no joke,” Seffner Christian girls basketball coach Greg Fawbush said. “The girls are pumped up.”