For three quarters, it looked like Osceola’s win streak against county teams would come to an end.
The Kowboys trailed Poinciana by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, before finishing on an 18-3 run to defeat the Eagles, 50-47, in the finals of the Orange Belt Conference (OBC) Championship Tournament.
The win gave the Kowboys, 16-4, a fourth consecutive OBC Championship, and extended its win streak against county opposition to 33 games. Poinciana was the last county team to beat the Kowboys, taking a 93-80 overtime decision during the 2015-16 season.
“It was a difficult, grind it out type of rivalry game,” Osceola head coach Nate Alexander said. “We took a lot of bad shots in the first half, and frankly, Poinciana had our number and took it to us pretty good. Fortunately, in the final quarter, we hit some big shots and were able to rattle them a little with our press.”
Osceola started the game ice cold, hitting just two field goals in the first quarter and falling behind 9-5 after one period. The struggles continued in the second period, as Poinciana took advantage of several second chance opportunities to outscore Osceola 18-16. and take a 27-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
Luis Pena, and Jelani Marcano scored two, third quarter buckets each for Poinciana, as the Eagles were able to extend the lead to 39-32 after three periods. Manny Centaro would then hit a long three to start the fourth period and extend the lead to 42-32.
The rest of the game would be all Osceola, as they would outscore Poinciana 18-4 the rest of the way.
Chris Combs would begin the comeback by hitting a couple of baskets, and some key defensive stops pulled Osceola to within four at 42-38. The comeback would momentarily stall, when the Kowboys missed three layups and failed to score on five straight possessions, but their defense also kept Poinciana scoreless and held the margin at four.
Corbett hit one of two free throws to increase the lead to five, but Armani Thomas knocked down a three to make it 43-41. A steal and a Chris Combs layup tied the game at 43-43 with 3:08 remaining. Corbett would hit a pair of free throws to put Poinciana up by two, but Thomas banged in another three to give the Kowboys their first lead since taking a 1-0 lead at the start of the contest.
After trading baskets, Osceola was clinging to a one point lead, but Josh Blazquez was fouled, and made both ends of a one-and-one to give Osceola a three-point lead with 29.3 seconds remaining.
A three-point shot by Manny Centaro came up short at the buzzer and Osceola held on for the win.
“Winning the OBC still means a lot to our kids,” Alexander said. “The players know each other and for Amari Thomas to be able to claim a fourth straight championship is a big deal. The seniors from last years’ state championship team, nor the ones before that, could make the claim of four straight OBC Championships.”