CLASS A: Bradenton Christian pulls away in the fourth to advance to the state tournament.
By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2003
TAMPA -- As Bradenton Christian sophomore Jessica Magley sat out for nearly seven minutes in the third quarter because of foul trouble, Cambridge players regained their confidence.
They fed the ball to 6-foot-3 junior Betsy Brown, an automatic scorer under the basket, and tied the game with a steal and a layup by senior Lauren Pawlowski.
But the Lancers (30-4) didn't take full advantage of Magley's absence and never took the lead. Magley returned and the Panthers came back to life, beating the Lancers 70-59 to advance to the state tournament.
Magley scored 16 and had 13 rebounds and six assists, which was no shock to the Lancers. When the two teams played during the regular season, she scored 27 and had 17 rebounds.
"I think we had gone over what we were supposed to do, and we were prepared," Brown said. "But we're a young team, and none of us had ever been here before."
The team had not played in front of such a raucous crowd, which spilled onto the sidelines and into the doorways of Cambridge's tiny gym. The ear-splitting roar that followed every basket was enough to fray anyone's nerves.
"Personally, I came out of the locker room and I liked that there were so many of our fans out there," said Bradenton Christian sophomore Danielle Fisher, who scored 16.
"It's always fun to play them. It's always close, always tight. ... This is the type of game where you can't let one slide."
Cambridge allowed too many charging layups and jumpers by the Panthers (30-2) and never got closer than six in the fourth. They also struggled at the free throw line, finishing 4-for-16.
"We were fortunate they weren't shooting well outside at all," Panthers coach Jim Van Til said. "And in the third quarter, our subs did a decent job of keeping it close."
Panthers junior guard Sara Vanderbent scored 15, all on 3-pointers. Christine Civil scored 15 and had five steals.
Cambridge was led by eighth-grader Alexis Walker, who scored 22, and Brown added 21.