Mustang rally falls short as Osceola prevails 59-47

The Wekiva Mustangs storybook season fell just short of a happy ending. Despite a furious second half rally that cut a 16-point deficit down to two, the Mustangs fell to the Osceola Kowboys 59-47 in the 9A state championship tonight at the Lakeland Center.

Wekiva finishes its season with a 26-6 record, and winning 15 of its last 17 games to reach the state finals for the first time in school history.

Senior Wekiva forward Paul Reed, the star of the semifinal game, scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds despite being covered by multiple Kowboy defenders who pushed, shoved and played an extremely physical style of defense on him. Reed had 28 points and 13 rebounds Friday night in the Mustangs 73-59 victory over South Miami.

The Mustangs were snake bit to start the game, falling behind 7-0, and not scoring until 4:10 elapsed in the first quarter. Finally Reed ended the draught when he made a reverse layup after missing two shots and claiming his own rebounds both times. Osceola maintained that seven point lead at the quarter’s end 13-6.

In the second quarter the Kowboys used full court pressure to disrupt Wekiva’s offense, holding them to only eight points as they outscored the Mustangs 14-4 in the last five minutes of the half to take a 28-14 lead to intermission.

However, the Mustang offense came alive in the third quarter.

Trailing 32-16 two minutes into the second half, Wekiva rifled-off  eight straight points and outscored Osceola 19-9 in the quarter to cut the lead to 37-33 to put them within striking distance coming into the fourth quarter.

In that final quarter, the Mustangs cut the lead to two points three times (the final time at 40-38 with 5:10 remaining in the game), before Osceola employed a deliberate, four corner offense and patiently pulled away. The Mustangs never led in the game.

Despite an intense, physical, full court pressure defense by Osceola, they were only whistled for two shooting fouls, and after going 27-29 at the line the night before, Wekiva only managed 1-4 free throw shooting in the finals.

The Kowboys finished its season with a 29-2 record and claimed their second state title in school history.

Feature Photo Credit: Florida High School Athletic Association.

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