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By MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001
NORTH PALM BEACH -- As Tampa Prep warmed up for its clash with North Palm Beach Benjamin on Tuesday night, two Buccaneers wore yellow T-shirts with fitting nicknames on the back.
Butter and Bomber.
Fitting because those two players, Erlana Larkins, a k a Butter, and Kristyn Casey, a k a Bomber, led Benjamin as it outsmoothed and outshot the Terrapins in a 64-30 Class 2A regional semifinal win. The Terrapins (24-3) were doomed from the outset by poor shooting and a lack of transition defense. The starting lineup, which included four juniors and a sophomore, showed its inexperience and Benjamin (24-5) took full advantage.
The Bucs went on a 19-5 tear in the second quarter in which all but two field goals -- a three-pointer by Casey and a 10-foot jumper by Larkins -- were layups. Several of those layups were at the end of fastbreaks that were created by missed Tampa Prep shots or Benjamin's strong press defense.
"They took advantage of our lack of transition defense superbly," Tampa Prep coach Suzanne Marfise said. "We were taking really good shots and our offense was running well, we just couldn't buy a basket. When you start doing that, running back and playing defense becomes a little bit tougher."
Benjamin had no problem at either end of the court. The Buccaneers shot 52 percent from field, making 28 of 53 shots, and allowed Tampa Prep no more than nine points in any quarter.
The Terps didn't help themselves, missing countless layups and jump shots while hitting 4 of 10 from the free-throw line. Tampa Prep went eight minutes, 49 seconds without a field goal in one stretch between the second and third quarters and managed only two layups and a free throw during its five-point second quarter.
Larkins, a 6-foot-2 freshman swing player who has played varsity since she was in the seventh grade and already has one state title and 1,000 points under her belt, finished the game with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Casey had a game-high 23 points to go along with her 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and a block.
Tampa Prep was led by Amber Langston's 11 points.