Boys basketball: Tampa Catholic falls short in 3A state semifinals

Tampa Catholic was supposed to have the advantages heading into Wednesday’s Class 3A boys basketball semifinal matchup with Florida State High. 

The Crusaders were making their sixth semifinal appearance in the past seven years. They knew how to adapt to different venues after playing every game on the road while their gym goes through a $5.6 million renovation. 

By contrast, Florida State High, the Crusaders opponent in Thursday’s matchup, was making its first state semifinal appearance since 1999. 

Tampa Catholic’s experience paid off, at least early on. The Crusaders led 20-12 after the first quarter and were up by double digits midway through the second quarter.

Then it all slipped away. 

The Seminoles kept chipping away at the deficit until taking the lead in the third quarter and held on for a 60-57 victory. 

The loss snapped Tampa Catholic’s 12 game win streak. 

Karter Knox, a five-star recruit, led the Crusaders with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Two other Tampa Catholic players – Eddrin Bronson (12 points) and Karmello Branch (11 points) – reached double figures. 

Though the Crusaders fell short of winning their first state title since 1995, they can take solace in knowing hey have a future together.

After all, Tampa Catholic has only one senior on the roster.