Apparently, it's never easy for the No. 1-ranked Rickards Raiders (23-7) of Tallahassee.
After surviving an overtime game against Pine Crest by six points in the Florida Class 3A semifinals, Rickards ground out another six-point OT win in the championship game Thursday night against Jones of Orlando (25-6), winning 60-54 and clinching the school's second state title in as many years.
Rickards trailed by eight in the fourth quarter, but D'Marnier Cunningham scored eight points in a 10-2 run in the final four minutes to tie the game at 48-all.
Rickards then scored the first six points in overtime - making it a 16-2 run over the two periods - for a 54-48 lead it never relinquished. Rickards' first four points of the overtime were scored by reserve Desmond Gibson, his only points of the game.
Angelo Warner, a 6-2 senior guard for Jones, sliced the lead in half on the next possession with his third 3-pointer. But Warner's trey -- Jones was only 3-of-18 on 3-pointers for the game -- was the last field goal his team would manage, as the Tigers added only three free throws in the second half of overtime.
Rickards was paced by Cunningham, a 5-9 senior guard who scored 19 points (including 10-11 from the stripe), and Chris Bryant, a 6-7 senior center, who scored 16 points. Jakari Bush added 10 points.
Warner did most of the heavy lifting for Jones, scoring 29 points, although he was charged with nine turnvoers. Matt Williams, a 6-5 junior forward, and Demarcus Croaker, a 6-3 sophomore guard, chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Those three scored 52 of Jones' 54 points. Rickards' bench outscored Jones' 23-2.
Rickards is the first Big Bend school to win consecutive stae titles in basketball since Port St. Joe in 1998-99. Big Bend is an area of Florida gulf coast around Apalachee Bay. The last Tallahassee school to repeat had been FAMU High in 1994-95.