ST. PETERSBURG — Two teams with similar styles will face off in Saturday’s final of the girls Northeast Holiday tournament. Bloomingdale used a stifling defense and balanced scoring to defeat East Bay 53-27 in the first semifinal on Friday. Northeast followed with the same kind of game in a 52-33 win over Wharton.
Bloomingdale (8-7) will play Northeast (14-5) at 1 p.m. for the championship.
In the first game, Bloomingdale started slowly but pulled away in the second quarter to defeat East Bay. The game was tied 8-8 after the first quarter, but the Bulls went on a 13-1 run in the second.
Katie Montero started the quarter by hitting a 3-point shot. Montero, who had 11 points in the game, also had a steal and layup and another layup at the buzzer to end the quarter.
“We didn’t shoot it very well to start so we changed up our pressure,” Bloomingdale coach Joel Bower said. “That helped us get some easy shots. When you aren’t hitting shots, the best thing to do is step up the pressure and see if you can get some easy shots.”
The easy shots continued in the second half. Morgan Routh hit two mid-range jumpers to start the third quarter and Nuri Troy and Destiny George added layups to build the lead to 31-11.
The lead bulged to 41-17 at the end of the third. The Bulls backed off their pressure in the fourth and East Bay’s Deja Campbell took advantage, scoring nine of her 11 points.
Bloomingdale had 10 players score, but only Montero was in double figures. Campbell led East Bay (4-11) while Keona Williams added seven points.
Like Bloomingdale, Northeast’s full court press frustrated Wharton from the beginning. The Vikings got most of their first-half points off turnovers, but led only 20-14 at halftime because of their own turnovers.
Just one minute into the third the Vikings built a big lead. Madison Winningham hit two 3-pointers and Emina Podzic added another to make it 29-14. From there, Northeast’s defense continued to create turnovers and thwart any comeback.
Wharton cut the lead to 36-25 at the end of the third on a 3-pointer by Rachel Cox. But the Vikings went on a 9-2 run to start the fourth to make it 45-27.
“The start of the third quarter was key,” Vikings coach Will White said. “We made some adjustments and made some shots. And I thought Emina Podzic was a beast on defense We kind of go as she goes on defense.”
Winningham led all scorers with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Podzic added 11 as Northeast had 11 players score. Rachel Cox led Wharton with 11 points.