DOTHAN, Alabama -- St. Luke's coach Kantonio Davis' gameplan included holding Brantley star Wesley Person under 20 points in the Class 1A South Regional semifinal on Tuesday night.
It looked good for a while. Person scored just eight in the first half.
However, the senior poured in 11 points in the third quarter on his way to 27 for the game as the fifth-ranked Bulldogs pulled away to knock off the Wildcats 57-42 in the final game of the day at the Dothan Civic Center.
"He's pretty tough," Davis said of Person. "We just tried to tell our guys to stay in front of him, but he can elevate and make that shot."
Brantley (17-8) will face Sunshine in the regional final at 5:20 p.m. Friday. The Tigers held off J.F. Shields in Tuesday's other semifinal game. St. Luke's finished its season at 16-16.
Person hit 8 of 16 shots from the field, three of his seven 3-pointers and 8-of-9 from the foul line.
"I kind of took it upon myself to get us going there in the second half," he said. "We didn't have a great first half, and none of us wanted this to be our last game."
St. Luke's used a 20-point second quarter to take a 27-25 lead at the half. Blake Fitzgerald hit a pair of 3s in the period, James Alston knocked down another and Joshua McSwain had eight of his 18 points during the run.
"We talked to our guys at halftime about playing better defense," Brantley coach Andrew Kilcrease said. "We gave up too many points in that second quarter. They came out in the third quarter and accepted the challenge and got the job done."
Person, the only returning starter from last year's Brantley team that lost in the Class 1A final against St. Jude, was the difference. He scored his team's first 11 points of the third period and hit all three of his 3s during the stretch. His final one gave the Bulldogs a 36-32 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter. They led 38-32 entering the fourth.
"I think we just came out a little nervous in that first half," Person said. "We had to calm down and play our game."
St. Luke's got as close as 38-34 on a pair of Alston free throws early in the fourth quarter, but Brantley steadily pulled away after that. The Wildcats managed just five points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth.
"I didn't think we had very good communication in that second half," Davis said. "In the first half, we were playing offense in front of our bench, and we communicated well. We seemed to lose that in the second half. We settled for a lot of shots behind the arc instead of getting into our offense, and that hurt."
St. Luke's finished just 4 of 17 from three-point range.
"It just seemed like they (Brantley) played harder on defense in the second half," St. Luke's senior Thomas Stubblefield said. "I didn't think we ever necessarily panicked. I didn't feel the pressure. We just didn't make our shots."
Stefan King was Brantley's only other scorer in double figures with 13 points. Alston joined McSwain on the St. Luke's scoring chart with 11, and Fitzgerald had nine.
Brantley also hit 13 of its 24 free throws. St. Luke's went to the line just nine times, hitting six.