Pioneer Boys Rally for Regional Quarterfinal Win

Advances to Tuesday Region Semifinal at Tampa Alonso


The Pioneers' interior defense collapses on a Winter Park player on Senior Night.

The state final four might be considered the promised land, but the basketball team quickly learned that nothing is promised in the sports world. Despite the team’s deep talent, it took a big second-half rally and some fundamentally sound late-game play to hold off visiting Sarasota Riverview 64-59 Thursday.

The Pioneers, vying to repeat as state champions, found themselves in cold water after Riverview (15-13) pulled into a double-digit lead in the third period. The home team then increased its aggressiveness. The Pioneers (18-5) turned up the pressure and attacked the rim to gain opportunities from the charity stripe and to force turnovers.

Four Pioneers reached double digits in scoring. Senior Kaleb Coleman poured in 14. Fellow senior C.J. Walker added 13. Jalen Smith had 12, and Zavien Smith Morales scored 10.

Class of 2015 graduate Antonio Blakeney attended the game and was recognized by former coach Alex Jackson. Blakeney now plays for the Chicago Bulls, who are in town to face the Orlando Magic tonight. Blakeney averaged nearly 30 points per game as a senior for the Pioneers. He attended LSU, the same school that scooped up Class of 2018 senior Emmitt Williams. Blakeney declared for the NBA draft after just two years at LSU and went undrafted. He joined the Bulls’ developmental team and earned his way into a contract with the NBA team.

Up next for the Pioneers is a Tuesday 7 p.m. road matchup with Tampa Alonso, which defeated Dr. Phillips 65-48, Thursday. Alonso boasts a 24-4 record.