SARASOTA — In their two previous meetings, Tampa Catholic and Academy of the Holy Names each won on the other’s home floor.
Playing for the Class 4A, District 10 title Saturday on a neutral floor at Sarasota Booker, Tampa Catholic used its strong starts to each half to defeat the Jaguars 50-39.
Tampa Catholic will host Lake Placid at 7 p.m. Thursday while Holy Names goes on the road to play Lakeland McKeel at the same time.
“The start of both halves decided the game,” Jaguars coach Christopher Severini said. “They were hot early, and that made the difference.
Mia Blocker scored five quick points and Dominique Eule added a 3-pointer as the Crusaders jumped to a 9-2 lead.
Jaguars forward Ashley McWilliams scored eight to start to close the gap, but the Crusaders went on another run and led 19-8 after one quarter.
The second quarter was a different story. The Jaguars turned up the pressure and forced 11 turnovers. The Jaguars got 3-pointers from Caroline Kimbler and Cristina Snyder to close the quarter on a 6-0 run and narrow their deficit to 23-19.
“We weren’t really looking to run a stall, but we wanted to eat up clock,” Tampa Catholic coach Matt Rocha said. “Unfortunately we didn’t handle the pressure and they got a lot of steals.”
Tampa Catholic started the third quarter on a 6-0 run behind 6-foot-1 center Alise Davis, who had been scoreless in the first half. But she used her height and strength to score eight and dominate the glass. A 3-pointer by Snyder broke up the run, then Davis controlled the paint the rest of the way.
“When they’re both on the floor it’s special,” Rocha said of Davis and Blocker. “They draw a lot of attention and understand how to take advantage of mismatches.”
Blocker led the Crusaders with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Davis added 12 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. McWilliams led the Jaguars with 19 points.