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Hornets beat Cougars for another title

CLASS 5A, DISTRICT 7: Haines City rallies to win its second crown in a row.

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003

PLANT CITY -- On the warmest day this year, Haines City turned up the heat down the stretch and made off with the district title Saturday.

Trailing most of the game, the Hornets outscored Durant 13-6 during the last five minutes for a 58-51 win.

The title was the second for Haines City (21-4), who will play host to Wharton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a region quarterfinal. Durant (24-3) will visit King on the same night.

"I think you saw the two best teams in our region tonight, and there's a good chance we'll meet again down the road in the playoffs," Cougars coach Jeff Shotwell said.

Hornets junior forward La Wanda Fowler led all scorers with 23, but it was senior guard Erica Gunter and freshman center Nikki King who hit big baskets in the final moments, and sophomore point guard Ebony Mason who controled the floor when it mattered most.

"I think our girls played a phenomenal game against a top-quality opponent in their gym," Haines City coach LaDreda Akins said. "We didn't help ourselves at the free-throw line (8-of-26), but we never stopped hustling."

Durant, which split two games in the regular season with the Hornets, was led by Danielle Herndon's 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Courtney Chasten added 14, but Haines City's defense limited Durant leading scorer DeShaydia Mackey to seven.

6A-5: Bloomingdale falls just short

VENICE -- In one of the state's most tightly contested districts, Sarasota Riverview came out a tournament winner, 55-52 over Bloomingdale.

Sarasota Riverview defeated Riverview 64-62 in overtime Thursday to advance to the final. Bloomingdale pulled away in the final minutes to defeat Gaither 52-45.

With Saturday's loss, Bloomingdale dropped to 21-6 and must travel for Thursday's first-round regional. Sarasota Riverview (24-3) will host on Thursday.


2A-11: AHN caps perfect district season

Academy of the Holy Names made it a 12-0 sweep of Class 2A, District 11 opponents this season when it defeated Tampa Prep 60-30 in Saturday's district tournament final.

It took nearly five minutes before either team scored, but then Academy dropped in 14 in a three-minute span and took a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Tampa Prep did not get within 10 points the rest of the way.

"I thought it was going to be close the way both teams battled in the beginning," Tampa Prep coach LeeAnn Grove said. "But after that, we just looked tired. We weren't moving, and Academy just ran away."

Academy improved to 20-10 and will host Thursday's first-round region. Tampa Prep, which had won four of five, drops to 11-15 and must hit the road -- again.

"I think driving out here to Fort Meade (the tournament host) two times within three days and having to play the late game (for Thursday's semifinals) tired us out," Grove said. "I really thought we would be more competitive, but we played tired."


A-10: Cambridge pulls away from IRC

TAMPA -- Indian Rocks Christian gave Cambridge all it could handle for more than three quarters in the Class A, District 10 final. Then IRC point guard Mo Gattuso left the game with five fouls.

With Gattuso out, Cambridge's relentless pressing defense pushed a four-point Lancers lead into a 61-45 victory.

"I have to give (Gattuso) and Indian Rocks a lot of credit," Cambridge coach Karim Nohra said. "Indian Rocks came out aggressive and fired up, and we came out flat.

"But we were able to make some adjustments and be more effective in the second half."

At halftime, the score was tied at 25, and it appeared IRC might pull off the upset against the state-ranked Lancers, who improved to 29-3.

Gattuso left with 13 points, three fewer than her sister, Gabby. Cambridge center Elizabeth Brown led all scorers with 18.

Cambridge hosts Thursday's region quarterfinal against Celebration, a 35-34 loser to Lakeland Sonrise in the District 9 final. IRC travels to Sonrise on Thursday.


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