SHADY HILLS — Heading into the Class 3A, District 7 semifinals Thursday night at Bishop McLaughlin, Tampa Prep had to be confident.
After all, the Terrapins were matched up with Carrollwood Day. Not only had they swept the Patriots in two previous meetings, but CDS had never qualified for the state playoffs.
None of that affected Carrollwood Day as the Patriots pulled off a dramatic 42-40 upset.
A quick start early from Tampa Prep (11-12) did nothing to shake the team’s confidence as the Terps jumped out to a 15-6 lead. Little by little, the Patriots (8-6) chipped away at that advantage.
“I just kept telling the girls to keep their composure,” first-year CDS coach George Kimble said. “If we played in the flow of the game, I knew we could get back into it.”
Kimble’s hopes came to fruition as the Patriots chipped two points off in the second quarter and another three in the third. Soon, three of the Terps’ best players were in foul trouble with Isa Cura (15 points, five rebounds), Daniella Reina (10 points, nine rebounds) and Alana Tucker (eight points, six rebounds) all picking up a fourth foul in the middle of the fourth quarter.
While Tampa Prep coach Justin Smith kept them on the floor, a lack of aggressiveness made the team less effective down the stretch. Eighth-grade point guard Aniya Buie (13 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks) stepped to the forefront for the CDS offense.
The score was still tied 40-all going into the final minute. A couple missed opportunities from both sides gave Carrollwood the ball with less than 10 seconds on the clock. Buie drove the lane and kicked out to a wide open Nicole Ianni (six points, 10 rebounds), who knocked down the 15-foot jumper with 6.9 left to clinch the win.
“I just kept thinking about what (Kimble) told us in practice,” Ianni said. “Catch with two hands and take your shot.”
In the second game, Seffner Christian (21-5), a state final four participant two of the past three years, cruised to a 71-26 win over host Bishop McLaughlin (15-9).
Seffner went up 15-0 right after the opening tip. A loose ball 3-pointer from Bishop McLaughlin guard Brielle Downing ended the run, but that was it for the Hurricane offense. Alexa Rodriguez led the team with 14 points.
“We tell the girls all season that it’s more about how we play than how the opponent plays,” Crusaders coach Greg Fawbush said. “I am pleased with how we came out, and hopefully, this is another step toward our fourth straight district title.”
Seffner had three players in double figures before the half, including Peyton Walker (17 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals), Ally Parimore (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals) and Sabrina Whiting (27 points, eight rebounds, six steals).