By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 30, 2000
SEFFNER -- Behind the pressure of its full-court press and man-to-man defense, Lakewood squeezed the energy out of Bloomingdale by the third quarter and captured the Beef O' Brady Holiday Tournament title 55-45.
Quinisha Rush set a blistering pace for the Spartans, making nine steals and forcing the Bulls to make errant passes. She also scored nine points on her way to being named the tournament's most valuable player.
"When we began the full-court press, we were somewhat concerned about someone fouling out because the refs were calling the fouls tight," Rush said. "I play hard every time I get on the court, so trying for MVP was not on my mind. There were a lot of great players in this tournament, so being selected MVP was quite an honor. Winning the team title was better, though."
In the first half, the game was close, with Bloomingdale getting fast-break points by breaking the press and taking a 28-26 halftime lead.
But in the second half, the Bulls were hobbled by errant passing, poor shooting, sloppy dribbling and weak defense. Weariness under the Spartan press caused them to falter in the fourth quarter. "At the half, I told the girls we were still very much in the game and could win this tournament," Lakewood coach Ed Jackson said.
"Tonight, our press worked well, but we are not in the shape we need to be in for the main part of the season starting in January. We will have to get into better shape."
Lakewood's Ashley Sumbry scored a game-high 22 points while teammate Shauna Danford added 12.
Chandra Hargus led the Bulls with 18 points.
"After three games in three days, we were too tired," Bulls coach Mike Kiser said. "They were just in better shape than us, and we will have to correct that to finish the season."