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Early turnovers by East Lake help fourth-ranked Sarasota pull away and cruise into the regional final with a 76-39 win.
By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001
SARASOTA -- Only a perfect game could keep East Lake alive against the No. 4-ranked team in Class 5A, and the Eagles knew it.
One could tell by all the forced passes that got away in the first half.
Sarasota pounced on East Lake's many miscues early and put away Tuesday's Region 3 semifinal like a title contender is apt to do, rolling 76-39 to advance to Saturday's regional final against Boca Ciega.
"They came to play," East Lake coach Mike Walter said of the relentless Sailors. "They were prepared and we weren't."
The Eagles were flustered by Sarasota's defensive pressure, and the ensuing desperation led to turnovers. In the first half, 11 East Lake turnovers resulted in 14 Sarasota points.
Runs of 8-0 and 7-0 in the first quarter gave Sarasota a 23-9 lead, then a 12-3 burst at the start of the second built a 21-point lead. East Lake (13-12) would get no closer.
Sarasota (27-4) scored from both inside and outside of the lane with ease, as 6-foot-1 center Shelby Weber had her way in the paint with 12 points (not to mention 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots) and Maggie Carlough hit four three-pointers among her game-high 25 points.
"I think if we would have got a little more pressure outside and stopped the three in the beginning, we wouldn't have gotten so behind," East Lake's Tricia Finke said.
"We just stopped hustling."
Maggie Hedley also hit three treys and 11 points for Sarasota, and guard Sarah Lancaster added 13 points and 14 steals.
Finke led East Lake with 14 points, including nine in the second half that helped keep the game respectable. To the Eagles' credit, they regrouped a bit with four minutes left in the game and closed the season with a 10-0 run.
It was a run reminiscent of how East Lake played all through the second half of the season. After a 4-8 start, the Eagles went 9-4 after Christmas.
Indian Rocks Christian's improbable state playoff run ended Tuesday in Fort Myers as Canterbury topped the Crusaders 47-41 in a Class A, Region 3 semifinal.
The teams were tied at the half, but Canterbury (16-10) went up by four in the third quarter and held on. Senior Amy Johansen had 13 points in her final game for IRC (5-22).
-- Times staff