By BILL POWERS
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 15, 2002
TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Tech sophomore Chi Chi Okpaleke wasn't worried that she hadn't taken a shot the entire second half because she was still on the court playing defense.
The one shot the sophomore did take gave the Titans a 46-44 Class 4A District 9 win over the Panthers at Plant High on Monday night.
Okpaleke downplayed the lack of offensive opportunities.
"I had some blocked shots," she said.
"I was just concentrating on my defense."
So was Plant's Lindsey Taylor.
After Okpaleke scored 16 first-half points, Taylor didn't allow Okpaleke to take a shot until she grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in for the winning basket with 1:02 remaining.
"During the halftime meeting (Lindsey) asked for her and she did a great job," Plant head coach Jon Brackenrich said.
"I wish I had come up with that idea a little sooner."
While Taylor was holding Okpaleke scoreless, the rest of the Titans picked up the slack, especially Rebekkah Barnes.
Barnes, scoreless in the first-half, nailed two 3-pointers in key situations, then created a turnover and scored on the other end for the Titans.
Barnes' first 3-pointer gave Tampa Bay Tech (13-2) a 30-28 lead early in the third quarter.
A layup off a forced turnover tied the game at 36. Barnes' final 3-pointer opened the fourth quarter to give Tech a 40-36 lead.
Two free throws by Dallas McNeal gave the Titans a six-point advantage with 5:33 left.
Tampa Bay Tech held on down the stretch thanks to some poor free-throw shooting by Plant.
The Panthers were nine of 20 for the night and two of seven in the fourth quarter.
Plant (9-3) had other opportunities in the waning moments.
With the score 46-44 after Okpaleke's basket, the Panthers ran the clock down, but a 5-second call with 32 seconds remaining gave the ball back to Tech.
The Titans then ran off 23 seconds before being fouled.
Another foul with 7 seconds left put the Titans on the line for a one-and-one. Plant rebounded the miss, but Tampa Bay Tech stole the outlet pass.
"Things just didn't work out," Brackenrich said.