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Preps

Panthers battle illness and Ravens to advance

By Times Staff Writers
Published February 20, 2004

TAMPA - Four of Plant's top players were fighting colds, and coach Carrie Mahon could not get any more out of them.

In the end, after a 49-35 victory over Alonso, Mahon was pleased, but still a little concerned about the illness that plagued her team Thursday afternoon.

"I canceled (today's) practice because I thought we needed time to recuperate," Mahon said. "We were dragging (on Thursday). We didn't have our usual pace. Normally I never would have cancelled practice, but we have to think about getting ready for the next game."

That will be Tuesday in a second round regional at Lake Gibson, which defeated Plant by seven in the Craig Keeler Memorial Tournament in December.

"We've had in the backs of our minds for a long time that we might be playing Lake Gibson down the road," Mahon said. "We've been watching the brackets, and well, here they are."

Mahon said the Panthers (20-4) are excited about this chance because in the first faceoff with Lake Gibson, Plant point guard Lauren Cimino got in early foul trouble and forward Blaire Busch was out with a shoulder injury.

"Lauren has never been in foul trouble," Mahon said. "She handles the ball and without her we were a little lost for a while."

Not so on Thursday.

Despite starting slow and being tied at 15 midway through the second quarter, Plant picked it up to lead 22-16 at the half and 35-24 after three quarters.

Mahon said she never got too nervous.

"This is a team that has four senior leaders," she said. "They've been in a lot of games and they know how to handle different situations. Sure we were a little sluggish but I was confident."

Porscha Williamson led Plant with 13 points, followed by Ashley Carrington with 11 and Eriqah Butler's eight.

Alonso (10-16) was disapointed but not overwhelmed because this is the farthest the 3-year-old school has advanced in girls basketball.

"We have a bright future," Alonso coach Kelly Joyner said. "Tonight we started two freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors, so the good news is that everybody is coming back and all of them have some playoff experience under their belts."

Junior Jessica James led the Ravens with 12 down low and freshman guard Lissette Perez added 12 mostly from outside.

- SCOTT PURKS

6A: Cougars' season ends

Durant's season ended with a 53-35 loss to Kissimmee Osceola in a Class 6A, Region 2 quarterfinal. The Cougars finished 18-9. Osceola finished 24-4.

- Times Staff

5A: Wildcats rally after halftime

TAMPA - For the first two quarters of its regional quarterfinal, Wharton watched King control the court, backboard and score. Then after halftime, the Wildcats rallied and began pressing the Lions and scoring.

At the half, King led 29-9.

In the third quarter, Wharton perfected the full-court press and scored 30, mostly off turnovers. The Wildcats went on to eliminate King from postseason play with a 57-45 victory.

The Wildcats defense limited the Lions to 16 second-half points.

"Our rebounding, or the lack of it, was the thing that hurt us most," King coach Eric Brooks said. "Wharton feeds off turnovers and in the second half, we gave them what they wanted. My team is young, though, and it has been a good season for them to build on next year."

Mina Folks and Nikki Kelley led the third-quarter offensive explosion. Kelley went on a 10-point run, scoring off turnovers. With less than three minutes remaining in the quarter, Folks scored on a layup to put the Wildcats up 39-38 and they kept the lead the rest of the way. She scored 11 in the third.

For the game, Folks led all scorers with 18 points and Kelley added 17. Whitney Jennings scored 12 for the Wildcats.

"We played defense in the second half and that is how we won," Wharton coach Jaynee Wallace said. "Defense is the reason for us winning 22 games this season. No one person plays defense. It takes the entire team and they all had a part in the win tonight."

D'arra Williams was high scorer for the Lions with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Charmain Lawson added 12.

- TERRY JONES

5A: Clearwater rolls over Bogie

CLEARWATER - By playing well in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title game two weeks ago, Boca Ciega got the attention of Clearwater.

Tornadoes coach Tom Shaneyfelt spent time drawing up a detailed blueprint on how to stop the Pirates and made sure the six-point win his team escaped with in the last meeting was an anomaly.

This time, there were no close calls.

Clearwater (25-2) rolled to a 55-39 victory in the Class 5A region quarterfinals. Next up for the No.4 state-ranked Tornadoes is a home game against Fort Meyers Cypress Lake in Tuesday's region semis.

After having difficulty penetrating the Pirates' 1-3-1 zone in the conference game, Clearwater adjusted its offense. Instead of settling for jump shots, point guard Nicole Ryan fed the ball to her teammates down low for layups.

That strategy helped the Tornadoes go ahead 30-14 at the half and set the tone.

Sitting on a comfortable lead, Clearwater spent the second half divvying up minutes for the team. Instead of relying on the junior backcourt of Nicole Ryan amd Rachel Hammond, who combined for 26 points in the conference game, the Tornadoes spread the wealth as nine of 10 players scored.

Ryan still had 16 points, including 11 of 12 free throws, and was the only one who reached double digits in scoring for Clearwater.

Tiffany Williams continued on her postseason tear and was the Pirates' leading scorer with 14. Villamarie Binalay was right behind with 11 before fouling out in the fourth.

- BOB PUTNAM

3A: Crusaders cruise

TAMPA - Lake Placid showed up late, then made an early exit in the regional quarterfinals.

Kim Busche and Raquel Menocal combined for 38 points as Tampa Catholic (15-11) defeated Lake Placid 60-41. The Crusaders advanced to Tuesday's semifinals against Immokalee.

Lake Placid (16-10) arrived 20 minutes before the game after its bus took a wrong turn. Tampa Catholic assumed the driver's seat late in the third quarter, when Busche and Menocal sparked a 19-4 spurt to turn a 31-26 lead into a rout.

"It probably hurt (Lake Placid) getting here late," coach Greg Finkel said. "But we heard they didn't control the ball too well, and our defensive pressure worked."

Lake Placid had 37 turnovers and shot only 21 percent. Rose Charles (19 points) was the lone Green Dragon threat. Tampa Catholic overcame 29 turnovers with 52 percent shooting in the second half.

- DON JENSEN

2A: Bucs bounced

TAMPA - Mount Dora Bible ran off 14 straight points to open the game and the Bulldogs were never headed as they turned back Berkeley Prep, 53-19. Employing a swarming full-court press and opportunistic shooting, they raced to a 23-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Led by the brilliant floor play of ninth-grader Spenser Cantrell, Mount Dora Bible stretched the lead to 41-11 at the half.

"We came out ready to play tonight," Cantrell said. "We wanted to make our press work to get some quick baskets and that's the way it worked out."

Buccaneer coach Alexa Manning tried everything.

"We went from a man-to-man to zone, and then to a press, and nothing seemed to work tonight," Manning said. "They were able to handle everything. They are a very good team and we simply committed too many turnovers."

Assisting Cantrell was center Neather Collins who effectively handled rebounding on both ends of the court. Collins also contributed six points.

"We really didn't know what to expect tonight," Mount Dora coach Pat Todd said. "They were playing without their best player against the press (injured Buccaneer Whitney Connors), but I thought we played well overall and with a high level of intensity, which is what we'll need to advance."

Evan Braun led Berkeley Prep with seven points while Lauren Pitluck added six. Berkeley Prep finished its season 13-12 while Mount Dora Bible moves to 21-7.

- JIM REESE

A: Lancers rout Blazers

TAMPA - A first-period spurt, strong defense and stronger inside presence set the tone for Cambridge, which used those elements to rout Sarasota Christian 67-25.

Cambridge, ranked second in the state in Class A, jumped to a 7-0 lead, kept the Blazers scoreless the first four minutes and eventually stretched its early lead to 13-4. Sarasota Christian, in what became a theme, continually turned the ball over or missed shots as the Lancers continued to pad their lead. Meanwhile, the Lancers pounded the ball inside to create plenty of scoring opportunities.

Cambridge advances to the region semifinals Tuesday where it faces Winter Haven All Saints.

Sarasota Christian (16-6) mustered just five points in the first and didn't put together much more offense the rest of the game. As the Lancers' lead grew, the frustrated Blazers continued with the miscues.

A 28-point halftime lead grew to 30 points, then 40. At one point, the Lancers led by 42. Cambridge (27-2) had eight players score, four in double figures. Junior guard Andrea McAdoo led all scorers with 19 points.

McAdoo was especially effective at the free-throw line, hitting 11-of-12. Sophomore guard Stephanie Grace scored 14, and senior center Betsy Brown and freshman forward Alexis Walker each scored 11. Brown also had four blocked shots and seven rebounds. Sarasota Christian was led by Meaghan Fisk's eight points.

- ROD GIPSON

[Last modified February 20, 2004, 01:31:57]


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