By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2002
TAMPA -- When Gaither slipped past Leto in the consolation final of the Lady Shark tournament last week, the Cowboys learned an important lesson from their slim 47-43 win: Don't let Leto hang around next time.
Gaither took that to heart Friday evening in the semifinals of the A.P. Leto Holiday Classic, streaking to a 12-0 lead against the Falcons on the way to a 44-30 victory.
Gaither (11-4) will face Largo for the title at 6 p.m. today at Pierce Middle School.
"We really didn't do anything different," Gaither coach Bill Agatheas said. "We're just starting to jell as a team and we really just used what we had with our height advantage on them."
Leto (7-8) shook off its early deficit, rallying to within four in the second quarter. But the balanced Cowboys moved the ball around, freeing up open players for easy buckets. Guard Natalie Caldwell led the Cowboys with 10 points and Tosha Ross added nine. Leto put together another run in the second half. And when Holly Manninen nailed a 3-pointer with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter, Leto trailed 28-24.
But the Cowboys outscored the Falcons 13-4 in the next 8 minutes to regain control.
Leto was led by J.J. Womble and Amber Eihardt, who each scored 10 points.
In the other semifinal, Candice Dupree had a highlight-reel performance but didn't get a lot of help as Wharton lost 45-37 to Largo.
Dupree tied a career high with 15 blocked shots while scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. She had all nine of the Wildcats' (11-3) points in the fourth period.
The Packers (11-1) were led by Shaneisha Walton and Monica Adams, who combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds.