LAKELAND — The third quarter proved costly Tuesday for the Academy at the Lakes girls basketball team in a 68-59 loss to Sarasota Christian in a Class 2A state semifinal at The Lakeland Center.
Trailing just 33-29 at the half, the youthful Wildcats were outscored 14-6 in the third quarter. Turnovers were a problem for Academy at the Lakes, which had 23 for the game, compared to 12 for Sarasota Christian.
Sarasota Christian made 22-of-28 free throws, led by McKenzie Lantz (21 points, six rebounds) who made 11 of 12.
Wildcats center Imani Thomas led all scorers with a game-high 24 points and added 11 rebounds.
The Wildcats have seven players who are in seventh, eighth or ninth grade.
“I told them get used to this, because we’re coming back, baby,” Academy at the Lakes coach Karim Nohra said about his youthful bunch making return trips to the final four. “We’ll make some more trips back to the state tournament. Hopefully, we’ll get Sarasota again.”