COCOA – Homestanding Cocoa High seemed to be on the verge of a come-from-behind win on its own court on Tuesday before Keoni Wallington decided otherwise.
The Holy Trinity senior hit a pair of comeback-killing 3-pointers within a span of 1:36 of clock time on the way to a 59-51 Class 4A regional semifinal win for the visitors.
Melbourne fell by the same score at home to Martin County in Class 7A. In 5A, Titusville lost by a basket at home to Eustis, 54-52.
Shevelle Bailey (23), Neil Hawkins (22) and Joe Russell scramble for a loose ball during Tuesday’s game in the Titusville gym.
Florida Air won at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, 50-47. That earned a rematch with Sagemont, which beat the Falcons in last year’s regional final in Melbourne. This year’s game will be in Weston. Holy Trinity will visit Ocala Trinity Catholic. That game will be played Friday.
Against Cocoa, Wallington finished with 21 points for Holy Trinity, and teammate Skyler Hogan led all scorers with 26.
Their coach, Steve Henderson, credited Cocoa with having defended well against Wallington all year. Despite that, there was no prohibition on his taking outside shots.
“We give him freedom,” Henderson said. “He’s hit some big ones all year for us.”
Meanwhile, Henderson’s plan to slow down Cocoa leader Jay Wilcox was to use his own unselfish play against him by playing tight, encouraging him to pass.
“We just pressured him really hard and got underneath him,” Hogan said. “We didn’t want thim to have space to make a play.”
Wilcox had just a pair of free throws at halftime, and Cocoa trailed, 32-18. He finished with 12, while Juvante Hayes led with 18.
Cocoa cut its 14-point halftime margin to seven in less than two minutes of the third period, closing within 32-25 at 5:14. It got within two, 43-41, on a Hayes 3-pointer with 4:40 to play, but Wallington hit the first of his two on the other end in response. By the time he hit his second, the visitors had pushed their lead to 12, 53-41.