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Young Rams can't recover, lose by nine

Tampa Baptist falls behind early as Pine Castle Christian wins 58-49.

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001


TAMPA -- Tampa Baptist knew all about Orlando Pine Castle Christian junior guard Jordan DeLoach.

And playing in its first regional semifinal, the Rams knew they were in uncharted territory.

But what Tampa Baptist and coach Rick Waltrip couldn't foresee was a stumble out of the gate that they could never recover from.

Tampa Baptist fell behind 17-6 seven minutes into the game and couldn't quite complete a comeback, eventually falling 58-49 in the Class A, Region 2 semifinals. The Rams end their season 16-8 while the Eagles (18-9) advance to the regional final.

"The is the first time we've been in this situation," Waltrip said of his team's initial trip to the regional semifinals. "And I'm proud of the way we played. Once we went away from our press, that's when they beat us up."

DeLoach in particular.

After the Eagles posted leads of nine and seven points in the first half, the Rams narrowed the gap to 34-31 with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game. But DeLoach stayed hot, hitting for 10 of her game-high 33 points in the final period to regain her team's commanding lead.

The Rams, who got 23 points from junior center Marissa Davenport, managed to climb back within seven in the fourth period, but turnovers and poor shot selection plagued them.

The Eagles, meanwhile, had DeLoach, a combined 19 points from Heather Kitts and Melissa Sutton and 6 for 9 shooting from the free-throw line.

Natalie Alvarez scored seven points for the Rams while Vecelia Whitehead and Jacquline East combined for 12. "The blessing is this team has just one senior," Waltrip said. "We'll have a strong team back next year."

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