DADE CITY — The wild twists and turns started early, and kept going right to the last second as Pasco defeated top-seeded Nature Coast 67-65 in a Class 5A, District 7 championship game thriller Friday.
With the score tied Tranisha Harmon missed a free throw, but Brianca Roberts grabbed the rebound and fed Harmon for the go-ahead shot with 18 seconds left. Nature Coast turned it over, only to steal it back and have two shots within 5 feet miss before the horn sounded.
Pasco will host Land O’Lakes in the regional quarterfinals with Nature Coast travelling to Gulf.
Roberts had 22 points while Harmon scored 17 and had 19 rebounds. Micaiah Young added 18 points for Pasco, her 3-pointer putting the Pirates ahead 61-54 with three minutes left.
But on this night any time it appeared a team had control, it lost it. Rita Jarque’s three-point play gave the Sharks (18-4) a chance. Mirandas Jones’ 3 made it 63-62 but then Roberts, falling out of bounds, lofted an assist to Young, who put Pasco up three with 50 seconds remaining.
“I was going to do whatever it took tonight,” Roberts said.
Fifteen seconds later Emmalee Harris drained a 3 to tie it.
“We hit a huge 3 there. We just couldn’t get the ball to fall in the basket again,” Sharks coach Emily Gore said.
For Nature Coast, Harris scored 20, Jarque had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Jones added 16 points on 22 shots.
Pasco (19-9) led early 23-9, but the Sharks tightened up on the glass and led by five before Roberts’ 4-point play helped pull Pasco within 37-34 at the half.
After giving up no offensive rebounds in the second quarter and scoring 25 points, the Sharks surrendered four such boards in the first 90 seconds of the third, and a Roberts 3 had Pasco ahead by six midway through the quarter. Nature Coast only scored seven in the quarter but got four key points from Harris late to draw within 47-44.
Back-to-back baskets by Jarque and Jones had Nature Coast ahead 25 seconds into the fourth, setting the stage for the wild finish.
“Oh my goodness, yes,” Pasco coach Troy Moore said when asked if that was the craziest game this season. “Especially with so much at stake. The seniors really wanted this district title.”
So did Moore. It meant so much that he agreed, as promised, to join the players’ dance. That would be the one where they gather around center court and freestyle. Only on Friday Moore was the star in the center.
“That dance is just the silliest thing, but I told them I’d do it if we won district,” he said. “It’s better than cutting my eyebrows or something like that. And I got to show ’em the old man has some moves.”