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Mindful of last season's loss to Land O'Lakes, Ridgewood turns back the Gators 54-41.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published February 1, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - Heading into the final quarter Wednesday night, history was not on Ridgewood's side.
Coach Greg Bollinger remembered. That's why with a 23-point lead to start the fourth, his stomach churned and his heart fluttered just a bit.
His team? Well, they did. But whereas last year Ridgewood blew an 18-point lead to Land O'Lakes in the district semifinals, this time the Rams held off another Gators charge to win 54-41 to advance to the district final.
Land O'Lakes 13-12 had dozens of chances to repeat last year's miracle, but the shots stopped falling with about three minutes left.
Ridgewood, which clinched a playoff spot for the first time in three years, led 45-22 heading into the final period. Last year, it was 38-22 before the Gators rallied to a shocking victory.
"I was using that as motivation," Land O'Lakes coach Laurie Pacholke said. "But it was too little, too late."
Not to mention last year, the Gators had Kayli Keough. But mono ended the 6-foot-1 junior standout's season early this year and in effect gutted Land O'Lakes playoff hopes.
In typical Ridgewood fashion, nine players scored, led by Jen Galizia's 12 points and 11 from Daylyn Williamson. Both were instrumental in a 34-6 run by the Rams over the second and third quarters that decided the game.
The Rams (16-8) will meet No. 7 state-ranked Wesley Chapel Saturday for the 5A-7 title. The Wildcats (22-4) won their ninth straight game, beating Central 73-27 in the other semifinal.
After leading by only 10 after a sluggish first half, the Wildcats outscored Central 48-12 in the final two quarters.
Sthefany Thomas had 31 points, seven rebounds and 13 steals to lead Wesley Chapel, while Ashley Carey added 13 and Jeani Ducos had 12 and eight rebounds.
Ronisha Browdy scored 10 for Central, which finished 14-11.