Girls basketball: Palm Harbor University 48, Cleawater 45
CLEARWATER – With just over three minutes to play in Wednesday’s game against Clearwater, Palm Harbor University coach Darian Dublin called timeout. His Hurricanes trailed by five points and had scored only one point in the fourth quarter.
“I asked them, ‘Why all the long faces?,’'" Dublin said. “We’ve got plenty of time. We’re good. We can do this.’'"
The Hurricanes believed him.
PHU went on an 8-0 run to end the game and pulled out a 48-45 win over the Tornadoes. The victory clinched the PCAC north championship and set up a home game against Lakewood on Friday night for the overall PCAC title.
The game was played at a frantic pace throughout. PHU (17-6) jumped out to an 18-8 first-half lead. Clearwater (18-4) stormed back in the second quarter and only trailed 26-25 at halftime after Sophia McCray made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
That set up a back-and-forth second half.
The Tornadoes tied it just seconds into the third quarter when Carrie Lee hit two free throws. It stayed close throughout the quarter and Clearwater took a 37-36 lead into the final eight minutes. It became 39-36 when Adriana West made a 10-footer to start the quarter. PHU took the lead back at 40-39 with 4:22 to play when Kali Barber and Julia Ingram each hit layups.
Then the Tornadoes went on a 6-0 spurt that included a Hannah Maxwell 15-footer, a Lexie McDuffy layup and an Olivia Jones 15-footer. That prompted a PHU timeout.
After that, it was all Hurricanes.
Ingram took over. She scored on a layup, then with 2:17 left she drained a 3-pointer to tie the score at 45. Kayli Hoummard hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 46-45. After a few defensive stops, Ingram sank two free throws with 13 seconds left for the final points of the game. PHU’s defense did not allow a clear shot before time ran out.
“Even though things weren’t looking too good we were able to rally together and take it shot by shot,’’ said Ingram, who had a game-high 20 points but did not score in the second half until the final minutes. “Yes, I wanted the ball. My teammates did a good job of finding me and had some amazing passes down the stretch.’’
PHU 6-foot-4 center Kiana Chew had a triple double (10 blocks,13 rebounds,14 points). Hoummard added nine points and 14 rebounds.
Clearwater was led by Lee and Jones, who each had nine points. McDuffy chipped in with eight points.
PHU lost to Lakewood in last year’s PCAC championship.
“We need payback from last year,’’ Ingram said. “We’ve seen all their scores and they’ve beaten up on Pinellas County teams. We want to prove that north county is as good as south county.’’
Added Dublin: “Let’s make sure they show up on Friday. We’re going to show up.’’