ST. PETERSBURG — A week ago, Palm Harbor University won its first PCAC championship by outlasting St. Petersburg in overtime. Friday night, in the same gym, the Hurricanes defeated the Green Devils 44-40 to win the school’s first ever district championship.
The win sets up a Class 8A regional quarterfinal, Thursday at home against Plant. It also means the Hurricanes will get to hang a banner in their gym.
“The girls have been wanting a banner for a long time,” PHU coach Darian Dublin said.
It was clear PHU (23-3) was going to have to work hard to get past St. Petersburg in their fourth meeting this season.
PHU led 31-19 early in the third quarter, but St. Petersburg (20-6) roared back with a 15-2 run including layups from Angel Brown, Lazasha Baskins and Simone Wilson. By the end of the third quarter it was tied at 34.
“We kind of got out of control and made some bad passes to let them back in the game,” Dublin said. “St. Petersburg did exactly what it was supposed to do. We just had to get them refocused. At the end of the quarter they said they were starving. Not just hungry to win, starving. So I told them to go eat then. ”
PHU took a 38-36 lead on two Chardonay Aldrich free throws with just over two minutes to play. Aldrich then made a layup to make it 40-36, but Michael LaShon-Everhart came right back with a 3-pointer to make it 40-39.
The Hurricanes hit three of four free throws to make it 43-40 with 5 seconds left. St. Petersburg tried an inbounds pass at halfcourt, but the ball was stolen by Aldrich, who was fouled. She made one of two free throws to end the game.
“I just guarded my man closely and got a hand on the ball,” Aldrich said. “All I wanted to do was play defense until the buzzer rings.”
The Green Devils play at Riverview in next week’s region quarterfinal.
Class 5A-10: Instead, the Gladiators (11-12) got off to a slow start and never recovered in a 54-32 loss to top seed Bradenton Southeast. It was the third straight loss to the Seminoles, who went undefeated in the district.
“We got into some early foul trouble and Southeast shot its free throws exceptionally well,” Gibbs coach Ed Jackson said. “From then on we were trying to play catch-up and you can’t do that against a good team like that.”
Class 3A-9: Calvary Christian built a 20-point first quarter lead, led by 32 at halftime and eased past Admiral Farragut 51-25. As usual, the Warriors were led by sophomores Carley Plentovich (22 points) and Savannah Plentovich (19). Charlisa Jenkins had eight for the Blue Jackets.
Calvary Christian (21-4) will host Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy on Thursday in the region quarterfinals.
“We’ve got a few days to practice and get ready for the regionals,” Calvary coach Brooke Sibert said. “Now is where it really counts.”
Class 2A-8: Keswick Christian had no problem with any of its district teams this season, and Friday night’s final was no different. The Crusaders eased past Hernando Christian 45-11 for their first district title since 2010.
Ashley Bohl had 11 points to lead Keswick. The Crusaders had 10 players score.
“We spread out the points very well,” Keswick coach Karrmayne King said.
Keswick hosts Cambridge Christian on Thursday night in the region quarterfinal.