DADE CITY — Brianca Roberts and her Pasco teammates could feel their season slipping away.
For the first two quarters against Hernando in a Class 5A, District 7 semifinal Wednesday, Roberts was held scoreless. Other than Ashley Webster’s eight points at the half, the host Pirates hadn’t mustered much on offense.
Inside the locker room, Roberts, a senior, told her teammates she wasn’t going to let the season end without putting up a fight.
And she didn’t. Roberts spearheaded a 16-0 run in the third quarter with 10 of her 16 points on the night to snatch back the lead — and the season — in a 42-34 triumph over the Leopards.
The win clinches the Pirates’ (17-9) postseason berth and a meeting with Nature Coast for the district title on Friday night.
“I was not ready to be done,” said Roberts, who also had 15 rebounds. “I feel like we have a lot more basketball to go.”
Neither team had much success from the floor in the first half. Despite holding an early lead, Hernando (16-10) couldn’t pull away and dealt with foul trouble as leading scorer Arianna Tankersley (15 points) was forced to the bench in the second quarter.
On the other end, Pasco struggled to take advantage, and coach Troy Moore told his players they had to stop settling for bad jump shots and instead go to the low post, where they had a size advantage.
His advice worked and led to the game-changing run in the third.
“You could kind of see the shift in momentum where we started getting comfortable,” Moore said.
“It seemed like we were playing on pins and needles out here, because there was so much pressure and we were settling for shots we normally don’t take. So after we got those couple baskets, we exhaled and said let’s go play some basketball.”
In the first semifinal, Nature Coast knocked off Central 65-49, but Sharks coach Emily Gore wasn’t pleased with her team’s overall performance
Led by Rita Jarque (35 points) and Mirandas Jones (11), Nature Coast (19-3) opened the game on a 13-0 run. But sloppy play in the second half helped the Bears keep it closer than Gore would have liked.
“I thought we had a fantastic first half, but we came out in the second half a little flat,” Gore said. “You’ve got to give Central a lot of credit. They were doing the little things that we didn’t want to do.”
Evelyn Anderson had a team-high 20 for Central (13-13), including four from beyond the 3-point arc.