Oxbridge Academy returning to regional finals for third straight year

Oxbridge Academy is back in the boys basketball regional finals for the third straight year.

Ronique Spencer scored a game-high 15 points, and the ThunderWolves pulled away in the second half en route to a 53-38 victory against Coral Springs Charter Tuesday night in a Class 5A regional semifinal.

Dante Wilcox and Troy Joseph each added 12 points for Oxbridge (20-8), which advanced to play Tampa Catholic for the regional championship.

The winner of that game advances to the state semifinals next week in Lakeland.

Coral Springs Charter, which was led by Ian Tajalli’s nine points, closed its season at 20-7.

“The kids are really excited,” ThunderWolves coach Brandon Strassburger said. “We battled a lot of adversity this year. We had a lot of guys out. But we kind of straightened the ship here at the right time.”

After spotting the Panthers a game-opening 3-pointer, the ThunderWolves went on a 10-0 run, capped by a Spencer triple with 3:10 left in the first quarter.

Oxbridge continued to shoot well through the remainder of the quarter, with most of its points coming off the fast break. By the end of the quarter, the ThunderWolves led 14-6.

Coral Springs Charter was held to two field goals – both 3-pointers – in the first quarter, and the Panthers continued to hit from long range to start the second quarter.

Consecutive 3-pointers pulled Coral Springs Charter within 14-12 early in the quarter, and the Panthers later took a 17-16 lead with 3:18 left in the half on a pair of Nathaniel Harvey free throws.

Those points were the first for Coral Springs Charter that did not come by 3-pointer.

The ThunderWolves regained the lead, however, and went into halftime leading 24-19 following a Spencer layup at the buzzer.

The ThunderWolves extended their lead to nine points early in the third quarter, and built it up to 15 with just over a minute remaining.

Oxbridge held Coral Springs Charter to just three points in the quarter, and entered the final eight minutes holding a 36-22 advantage.

The Panthers were unable to catch up, and the ThunderWolves coasted to the win.

“We’ve got our core group of guys back,” Strassburger said. “Everyone that’s playing for us this year was on our roster last year. So it’s kind of special.”

A.J. Cajuste, who helped spark the ThunderWolves in the second half, finished with 10 points, while Harvey added eight for Coral Springs Charter.

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