By Dave Brousseau
LAKELAND – Fort 35 years John O’Connell has coached the boys’ basketball team at St. Andrew’s.
In the time since his arrival he had led the Scots to three state finals over the previous three decades.
Finally, he and 2019-20 St. Andrew’ team can call themselves State Champions.
Senior forward Yussif Basa-ama, who has signed with Yale, scored 23 points and had nine rebounds to lead the Scots to a 57-50 victory over Andrew Jackson for the Class 3A state title played Saturday at the RP Funding Center.
Junior forward Joshua Minott added 13 points.
“What a road we’ve had,” said St. Andrew’s coach John O’Connell said. “If you look at the top five teams in 3A all may be top 20 in the state. We had to go through the other four. So, this is truly an accomplishment to get to this point.”
St. Andrew’s biggest lead was 12 points last the in the third quarter, but Andrew Jackson was unable to battle back.
Tied at 48-48 with 4:10 remaining, St. Andrew’s pulled away as Jack May hit two big baskets and a steal in the final run to seal the win.
The Scots defense did a good job holding Jackson 0-for-10 on three-pointers. In taking a 33-24 lead at the half St. Andrew’s held its opponent to just over 27-percent shooting from the field.
ST. ANDREW’S 57, ANDREW JACKSON 50
SA (27-5): 3-0-7, Minott 5-2-13, Basa-ama 8-7-23, Hines 1-1-4, Brody 1-2-4, Turner 2-2-6.
AJ (26-4): West 4-6-14, Daniels 3-0-6, Dennard 2-1-5, Odom 4-2-10, Ray 1-0-2, Herrod 0-2-2, Ragland 3-2-8, Thomas 0-1-1, Myers 1-0-2.
3-pointers: May, Minott, Hines. Half: SA 33-24.