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St. John Paul II to play in first ever State Championship game

Panthers beat First Baptist Academy in 3A State Semifinals Monday
Posted: 11:14 PM, Mar 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-05 23:32:22Z
St. John Paul II in Lakeland

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) — Lakeland is where every high school basketball team in Florida wants to get to. That's where the Final Four is, so if you've made it to Lakeland, you're sitting pretty for a shot at a State title. St. John Paul II was one of four Big Bend squads in Lakeland this week, and the Panthers took on First Baptist Academy in their very first appearance at the State tournament.

The Panthers led at the half, and quickly took control in the second half, winning 55 to 37.

"After halftime, we got together and we were like, that first half was pretty nervous, you know what I'm saying?" said junior Tyreke McElwain after the win. "We were coachable. We made some mistakes here and there, but halftime we limited those mistakes and that's how we got the win."

"We believed from day one we were going to be here. We talked about it being our destiny," added head coach Titus Nixon. "We talked about visioning this and the moments here, and I'm not surprised we got the contributions we did from those guys on the court tonight."

The Panthers will play Orlando Christian Prep Wednesday at 7 for the Class 3A State title.