LARGO — Steinbrenner was hungry for a shot at a first-ever holiday tournament title, but Calvary Christian was just hungry for a win.
Playing in Friday’s semifinals of the Indian Rocks Christian tournament eventually won by Steinbrenner 38-36 on Courtney Hall’s putback at the buzzer, an undersized Calvary squad bodied up all over the court to deny entry passes to twin towers Hall and Rachel Briere.
Offensively, six points and a assist from senior Kasey Howard (game-high 13 points) helped Calvary turn a five-point halftime deficit into a six-point lead with two minutes left in the third quarter.
“I think (Calvary’s) want of this game was more than our want,” Steinbrenner coach J.R. Allen said. “That’s a tremendous credit to (Calvary) because they played their butts off.”
But Class 7A Steinbrenner (18-2) righted the ship just enough to stay close to Class 3A Calvary (13-2) in the battle of Warriors.
And with the final possession of the contest tied at 36, Hall (team-high 12 points) bumped her defender under the basket, pulled in Olivia Unger’s missed scoop shot in the lane and tucked in the putback.
“(The last 10 seconds were) very nerve-racking,” Hall said. “Everybody was scared and worried and really anxious. We wanted to win, and I basically did what I had to do.”
“To me, size doesn’t matter,” said Brooke Sibert, coach of a Calvary squad that went primarily with a four-guard look. “You just have to keep working hard and match the other team’s intensity. We have to learn to put two good halves of basketball together. We’re looking to play our best ball at the end of the season, and tournaments like this will help us.”
The nightcap was a nightmare for the host Golden Eagles as they lost 50-17 to Sarasota.
“It’s kind of how our season has gone. One night, we’re riding high, and the next, we bottom out,” Eagles coach Phil Farver said of his now 9-9 squad. “We played well (routing Bloomingdale in the first round). And (Friday), we make two passes on offense then stand around.”
Junior Zharia Grable (eight points, eight assists, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks) ran the offense for the Sailors (15-2) as Camille Giardina (13 points and six rebounds) and Shelby Miller (11 points) keyed an attack that shot 47 percent from the floor.
Junior Hayley Morten had six points and five rebounds for IRC, which made just five of its 36 shots from the floor.