Blake's dream season ends early

Published February 10, 2006

TAMPA - Blake came into its matchup with Clearwater with plenty of advantages. A home court, a No. 6 ranking in the state poll and just one loss in 23 games.

But all of that vanished under an 11-0 Clearwater run in the second period that helped the Tornadoes overcome an early deficit and rally to a 57-47 victory. "We played enough defense to get the win," Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "That was the difference in the game."

Although sluggish at the game's onset, Clearwater still managed a better shooting night than Blake (22-2). Neither team could do much early as no one scored during the game's first three minutes. Blake's offense got on the board first and quickly jumped out to a 9-2 lead.

Clearwater, behind the offensive heroics of Andreonna Holloway and Brittany Carannante, finally got its offense on track, quickly tying the score at 11 early in the second period. And after back-to-back 3-pointers from Carannante, the Tornadoes seized control. After grabbing its first lead with 3:50 left in the half, Clearwater kept Blake scoreless for almost three minutes while jumping out to a nine-point lead.

Blake, which struggled throughout the evening to get rebounds or hit timely shots, did manage to get back within four points late in the second period and within five in the third period, but never really threatened Clearwater the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Tornadoes hit shots from outside and got great inside play from Holloway to push their lead to as much as 17 at one point. Holloway led all scorers with 21 points while Carannante added 14. Robyn Williams led Blake with 15 points while Kayla Vickers scored 11 for the Yellow Jackets.

"We needed that run," said Shaneyfelt of his team's turnaround. "We were struggling. I'm not sure if it was jitters or what but it took us a little while to get going. We also played great defense and we didn't let them get into their half-court offense."

Armwood heats up

SEFFNER - Armwood was slow to get the offense started but when the Hawks did start shooting in the first half the points came in threes. In the first quarter Monique Reynard went 4-for-5 with four 3-pointers.

"I was playing within the flow of the game," Reynard said. "I wasn't thinking about it at all, I just wanted to win."

Reynard had two more 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Hawks went on to defeat the Gators 59-45.

"Monique is a great shooter," Armwood coach Bob Pafunda said. "(Land O' Lakes) seemed to focus on Willonda (Windham) early on and that left Mo open to make the three's."

The Hawks seemed to have a slow start, missing their first five shots before Reynard opened up the scoring with three straight 3-pointers. After building a 23-point lead at the end of the third quarter focus again seemed to be a problem as Armwood turned the ball over and scored only six points, all coming on free throws.

"We were a little bit sluggish," Pafunda admitted. "Our practices were like that too. We were really mentally drained from the district championship game Saturday night. I think (the team) is still celebrating that."

Land O' Lakes was led by Kayli Keough who had 18 points. The Hawks offense was helped by Willonda Windham with 16 points and Tamika Hepburn with 12.

At halftime Pafunda handed Windham a game ball in recognition of the senior's 1,000 career points. Windham reached the milestone against Bloomingdale in the district semifinal. She added 26 points in the final, a win against Freedom. Williams now has 1,042 career points.

- JARRETT GUTHRIE, Times correspondent

Largo rolls over Plant

LARGO - After watching Largo play in a tournament last month, Plant coach Carrie Mahon knew her players would have to be at full strength if both teams met in the playoffs.

That didn't happen.

The Panthers had three players out with season-ending knee injuries, including Eriqah Butler, last season's Times Hillsborough County player of the year.

The Packers, ranked fifth in the 5A state poll, took advantage as they rolled to a 69-45 victory.

"Largo has the toughest seven-girl basketball team I've seen this year," Mahon said. "We knew we were going to have some problems, especially inside."

Led by Ebony Walker, the Packers (24-1) established control near the basket and were ahead 36-14 at the half. Chelsea Simpson scored a team-high 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and Walker added 17 for Largo. Porscha Williamson scored 18 for the Panthers (19-9).

"We always try to work it inside no matter who were playing," Packers coach Dee Feazell said. "Ebony showed (Thursday night) that she can't be stopped."

- BOB PUTNAM, Times staff writer

Boca Ciega comes back

GULFPORT - With visiting Bradenton Manatee's top two players benched by foul trouble, Boca Ciega mounted a fierce comeback and escaped with a 45-42 victory.

Trailing by nine points to start the second half, the Pirates (24-4) outscored the Hurricanes 19-6 in the third quarter behind six points each from senior guard Tiffany Williams and freshman reserve Bianca Ianello.

- EMERY SKOLFIELD, Times correspondent