The Bartow High School Boy’s Basketball team had put in the blood, sweat and tears during the summer and during the regular season. Now with a 22-3 record in the books, it was the district semi-finals Wednesday night against George Jenkins on Jenkins home court. By virtue of earning the number one seed, Bartow had a first round bye.
Before the game, Jacket Head Coach Terrence McGriff once again allowed The Democrat full access to his locker-room.
It was quickly apparent that this pre-game talk would be just like the one early in the season against Lake Wales. It was very direct but a very in depth overview of what Jenkins would try to do. It also highlighted what successes Jenkins had against Bartow in their two regular season match ups.
He pointed out that his team hasn’t played that perfect 32 minute game.
“Mental toughness is doing your very best when it’s required. Let’s go and have a good time and remember we are Bartow,” said McGriff to his team.
The game began with the upset minded Jenkins squad racing out to a quick 9-6 lead over BHS with four left in quarter one.
The Jackets went on a scorching 16-2 run to finish the first quarter, putting them up 22-11. That lead would be extended to 15, with a 36-21 advantage at the half.
The rest of the way, Bartow would match any run George Jenkins could muster against the suffocating Bartow defense. As the final horn sounded, the Jackets had assured themselves a spot in the District Finals against Haines City with their 71-51 win.
Chris Perry led BHS with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Karlos Odum scored 14 points and grabbed eight boards.
Haines City had upset Ridge Community earlier in the night. The District Title game was played Friday night, going past the print deadline.
Bartow will return to the regional playoffs for the first time since winning the state championship in 2010. Both teams will play on Thursday, Feb, 14, their respective opponents are to be determined. The winner of the district gets a home game in the Regional Quarter Finals, the runner-up has to hit the road.