By: Wells Dusenbury
LAKELAND -- "The Grandview Curse" is no more.
After coming up short in its previous six trips to Lakeland, the Pride finally broke through, knocking off Orlando Christian Prep 51-40 in the 2A Title Game to capture its first ever basketball state championship.
"This was really special," said head coach Joe Dawson. "We felt as if we just stayed together, we'd have a chance to compete against anybody and that showed tonight."
Much like its State Semifinal win against North Florida Educational Institute, the Pride jumped out to another early lead. Behind 11 first-half points from Ivan Canete, Grandview took a 23-21 lead into the locker room.
Grandview led 33-29 entering the 4th quarter, but things got dicey in the final frame when Canete fouled out with over four minutes to go on a controversial call.
Despite their top player having to exit, the rest of the senior class buckled down with Canete out of the game.
"My initial reaction was 'What do you mean!?' said Eric Mance of the foul call. "I knew as a senior, Ivan goes down and that's just time for another senior to step up and try to lead the team."
The Warriors cut the deficit to three after Canete departed, but that was as close as they would get.
Mance, who finished tied with Canete for a team-high 16 points, and senior Sean Walsh came up with big buckets down the stretch to secure the Pride's first ever state championship.
"We knew we could pull it together," said Walsh, who scored 5 points in the 4th quarter. "[Canete's] been in foul trouble in many big games and as a team we've been able to pull out wins like that, so we knew all the hard work we'd be able to pull it off."
Defensively, the Pride came through with another stellar defensive effort, holding the Warriors to just 40 points. Orlando Christian Prep junior forward Adonys Henriquez, a University of Miami commit, was held to 17 points, and was the only Warrior player to reach double figures. Grandview dominated OCP on the glass as well, out-rebounding the Warriors 32-17.
For Grandview, after six straight years of disappointment in Lakeland, with two defeats coming at the hands of Orlando Christian Prep, the Pride can finally make the 3 1/2 hour drive back to Boca Raton on a high note.
The players can also take pride in being the first ever group to bring back a state title.
"With all the greats that came though this program, I can brag about it," Mance joked, "I can say, 'But do you have a state championship?'"
VIDEO: Highlights & Post from Grandview's win
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