By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
March 5, 2019
LAKELAND, Fla. (WCTV) -- The most unbelievable finish to the most unbelievable day of state championship basketball in Lakeland belonged to St. John Paul II as Allen Jeanne-Rose slammed home a dunk at the buzzer to give the Panthers a state title with a 50-48 victory.
From the opening tip, JPII looked like a team that believed and belonged. The Panthers notched 29 points in the first half of the contest and took a 29-16 lead into the locker room.
"We believed," said Panthers head coach Titus Nixon. "We used David and Goliath imagery quite a bit once we knew we were playing Orlando Christian Prep and we really believed that we were a team of destiny. We truly believed that."
But, the two-time defending state champions wouldn't go away easily. The Warriors outscored the Panthers in the second half, 27-14, forcing an extra session.
Overtime was a back-and-forth affair that was completely indicative of the game until the play of all plays happened.
"I just had to dunk it, to finish and win the state championship," said Jeanne-Rose. "We here today, we state champs and we taking it back to the city."
Call it a miracle, call it unbelievable, call it storybook, call it whatever you want. It was clear JPII wasn't going to be denied.
"You imagine situations like that all the time. I played basketball my whole life, I've been coaching for a while now. You think of those situations, you have those fantasies. State championship game, what do I call? What do I run? And at the end of the day it comes down to these young men making the biggest play of their lives," Nixon said.