By Dave Brousseau
LAKELAND – Dillard was in an all to familiar position to extend a game into a second overtime.
Unfortunately, no miracle would be bestowed to the Panthers as it was in their semifinal victory that advanced them to the Class 6A state championship against Bartow.
Down by three and with a possible chance to extend the game into second OT, senior guard Darryl Burrows was granted three free throws when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Burrows missed twice and was called for a violation on the third try.
The deal was sealed as Bartow won its fifth consecutive championship with a 66-61 victory at the RP Center on Saturday.
In the Panthers state semifinal victory on Thursday, Ivan Reynolds basket at the buzzer sent the game into a second overtime.
Missed free throws was the story for Dillard (24-8) that kept coach Darryl Burrows from winning his eighth title at the school.
“Tough game,” said Burrows, who had won seven championships since 200, the including the last in 2017. “We kind of put ourselves in a situation where we made it — taking nothing away from Bartow — but we had several opportunities to kind of close it out and we didn’t.”
It was the first time Burrows had lost in back-to-back championship games.
Dillard’s nemesis against Bartow (30-1) was they missed 13 free throws (18 for 31) and turned the ball over 21 times.
Dillard senior guard Chandler Mack finished with a game-high 18 points and senior Asonaba Bromley posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Senior center Jalen Haynes was held to just 8 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out.
The future of Dillard basketball in unclear as Burrows, who will retire from teaching at the end of the school year, is uncertain if he’ll return as the Panthers coach for next season.
BARTOW 66, DILLARD 61 (OT)
D (24-8): Bromley 6-1-14, Burrows 2-2-8, Reynolds 2-3-7, Mack 5-6-18, Haynes 3-2-8, Bernot 0-2-2, Bennett 0-2-2, Robiejo 1-0-2.
B (30-1): Simons 4-3-12, Clayton 3-2-8, Smith 0-7-7, Frazier 4-3-14, Lowery 4-3-12, Vigo 2-1-7, Davis 2-2-6.
3-pointers: Frazier 3, Vigo 2, Lowery, Burrows, 2, Mack 2, Bromley. Half: D 34-28.