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Jaguars hold off Wildcat rally

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 28, 2000


TAMPA -- Wharton coach Eddie Henderson had seen it all before. Then again, so had Academy of the Holy Names coach Jeff Pafunda.

The only difference is Pafunda was expecting it. Henderson had no idea what was coming his way.

What Henderson saw was free throw after free throw clang off the backboard or roll around the rim during his team's 44-36 loss to the Jaguars in the second round of the Craig Keeler Memorial Tournament.

Fifteen to be exact. Eight-of-23 to be even more exact. Numbers that have disgraced the Wildcat score book already this season.

"Those numbers have haunted us before," Henderson said. "Plant. We were 8-for-23 against Plant and lost that game, too." Pafunda, on the other hand, watched Wildcats -- missed free throws and all -- make a fourth-quarter run at his team. He watched Wharton (6-6) score the first seven points of the fourth quarter to cut the Jaguars' lead to 38-29.

Pafunda could only look on as Wildcat center Candice Dupree finally started to heat up, scoring nine points in the quarter, including eight from inside the paint. The Wharton rally, however, wasn't strong enough to outlast the clock.

"I knew they were going to come back in the fourth quarter," Pafunda said. "All the good teams do. This was a good win for us. We took control and held our own in the last two minutes."

The main reason for that was the strong play of freshman Christen Prado. Prado had two rebounds of her own missed free throws in the final 15 seconds, allowing Academy (8-5) to keep the ball.

"She came up big," Pafunda said of Prado. "A few of the players complimented her in there after the game."

Academy will play Durant at 2 p.m today. The final will be at 8.

In earlier action, Hillsborough's Rebekah Barnes hit her only three-pointer of the game with 4:50 remaining and Cerierce Hopkins hit her only shot of the game a minute later to give the Terriers a lead they did not relinquish en route to a 41-39 win over Robinson.

Hillsborough plays St. Petersburg Catholic at 4 today at Blake.

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