By Dave Brousseau
LAKELAND – Of all the big games the Dillard boys’ basketball has played over the years, Thursday’s Class 6A state semifinal against Columbia should ranked right near the top.
Ivan Reynolds made a 14-foot turnaround jumper at the buzzer sending the game into a second overtime.
Kirt Bromley dropped five of his seven points in the second OT that created the separation to complete the long rally for a 71-66 victory at the RP Funding Center.
Dillard (24-7) will play Bartow, a 68-57 winner over East Lake, on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Panthers will seek the school’s eight state title all under Burrows tenure.
It will also be the 50th anniversary since Dillard first played in a FHSAA boys’ basketball state championship. The Panthers lost that 1970 title game to Carter-Parramore High 75-74.
“Tough game,” said Dillard coach Darryl Burrows. “That team is one that you could underestimate. They deserved to be here.”
Much of the conversation revolved around Reynolds shot that sent the game into the second extra frame.
“Things didn’t go our way in the game,” said Columbia coach Steve Faulkner. “I never been one to blame things on the officials, but that shot at the end of the first overtime was still in his hand. I’m confident of it.”
“We had messed up and the ball almost went out of bounds,” said Reynolds, who finished with 15 points. “I looked up at the clock and saw Kirt go for it. I realized I had no time to but the ball down and shot it.”
The referees gathered at midcourt to confirm Reynolds shot was timely. It was and the game headed into the second OT.
Said Burrows, “We knew it was good from the beginning and the shot was clean.”
The Panthers bench also stepped up as Jalen Haynes (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Chandler Mack (12 points) fouled out.
Dillard fell behind early 19-6 as Columbia made four of its six 3-pointers in the first 4:54 of the game.
The Panthers made the necessary defensive adjustments, got back within striking distance at 35-30 at the half.
Dillard opening the second half with an 8-0 run and it was game on.
DILLARD 71, COLUMBIA 66 (2 OT)
C (28-3): Ponds 2-0-4, Owens 4-0-8, Smith 2-0-5, Gaines 8-5-24, Jones 8-2-20, Peterson 1-1-3, Jefferson 1-0-2.
D (24-7): Bromley 3-1-7, Burrows 2-3-9, Reynolds 5-4-15, Mack, 3-6-12, Haynes 7-3-17, Bernot 1-2-4, Bennett 2-1-5, Robiejo 1-0-2.
3-pointers: Burrows 2, Reynolds, Gaines 3, Jones 2, Smith. Half: C 35-30.