Palm Beach Lakes could have used a few extra inches against Tallahassee-Lincoln on Friday afternoon in its Class 8A boys basketball state semifinal against Tallahassee-Lincoln.
6-foot-8 center Dwight Wilson had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the taller Trojans dominated inside in an 86-60 victory against the Rams at the Lakeland Center.
With the win, Lincoln (24-3) advanced to Saturday’s state championship game against Tampa-Sickles.
The Rams are headed home after a season in which they won both district and regional championships and finished 25-4.
“This team exceeded my expectations,” Palm Beach Lakes coach Lorenzo Hands said. “They played very well. They started the season unranked. To get this far and at this stage, it’s been a pleasure. It’s been a pleasant surprise. I’m very happy for the team. We just fell a little short.”
Palm Beach Lakes got off to a slow start on offense, hitting the game’s first field goal but then enduring a nearly four-minute scoring drought.
The Trojans jumped out to a 7-2 lead during that span, but the Rams tied it up on consecutive field goals from Dovicson Louis and Ty Hands.
Lincoln came right back behind Wilson, a James Madison signee who helped key a 10-0 run to close the first quarter.
The Rams shot just 21 percent in the quarter, and continued to struggle from the floor throughout the first half.
Wilson and 6-foot-8 teammate Darrion Fluker forced Palm Beach Lakes to go outside, and the Rams’ shots — often hurried — weren’t falling.
“Our main focus was to make sure that our main bigs attacked their bigs,” said Trojans coach Ray Daly, whose team finished with a 51-27 rebounding advantage. “We knew they were a little smaller, but they’re athletic. I knew we had the size on them.”
Still, Palm Beach Lakes was able to pull within 26-20 midway through the second quarter before the Trojans pulled away over the final three minutes.
Lincoln, which shot 50 percent in the first half, led 35-22 at halftime.
Things didn’t get much better for the Rams to open the second half.
The Trojans’ big men continued to dominate inside, and Palm Beach Lakes couldn’t counter it.
The Rams hit just 19 percent from long range, and 32 percent overall.
“They have two players not only with size, but they’re strong kids,” Hands said. “We came in with a game plan, and we didn’t execute it as well as we’ve done with previous games. But that’s what great teams do. When you come in and you have a game plan, they don’t allow you to execute those things.”
Lincoln built a 15-point lead early in the third quarter, and pulled away from there.
Palm Beach Lakes guard Lavorris Givins led all scorers with 26 points, while forward Daiquan Wyatt added 18 points and seven rebounds.