LAKELAND, Fla. - Led by the tandem of Jerron Granberry and Charles Hankerson Jr., the Coral Reef High School boys basektball team defeated Orlando Olympia 69-60 in the Class 6A championship game Friday at the Lakeland Center. The victory brings home the school's first state title in any major team sport.
Hankerson, a junior, led the way for the Barracudas by scoring a team-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Granberry, a senior, recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
"This is amazing man," Hankerson said. “Coming into the season, we weren’t expected to be here because 6A is so competitive, but this is what happens when you play hard every game. We made history today and hopefully we’ll be on the map as a top basketball school in the years to come.”
Olympia entered the contest ranked No. 1 in 6A and came out firing by hitting five 3-pointers and establishing a 15-3 lead with 4:08 left in the first quarter. The Barracudas made just 3-of-16 shots in the quarter.
As if its rough shooting night wasn’t enough, Coral Reef (27-5) also had a difficult time containing Olympia’s 6-foot-2 guard Dexter Fields. Fields, a senior and Alabama-Birmingham commitment, scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the first half.
Countering Fields’ early dominance, Coral Reef’s Hankerson Jr. helped his team shrug the sluggish start by scoring nine points in the second quarter.
Despite Coral Reef's offensive woes, its defense kept the Titans scoreless for seven minutes in the second period and helped the offense cut the deficit to six (26-20) by halftime.
Olympia (28-5) committed 18 turnovers, a major factor in allowing Coral Reef back in the game.
In the second half, the 6-5 Hankerson continued to carry the Barracudas by scoring a key bucket that gave his team a 38-37 lead with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter.
Coral Reef, No. 25 in this week’s MaxPreps Xcellent 25, became the fourth team in the past five seasons to bring Florida’s Class 6A title back to Miami-Dade County.