BROOKSVILLE — A year ago a young, rebuilding Pasco team would have folded after giving up 13 straight points to fall behind in a playoff game.
Thursday night at Nature Coast, the Pirates showed just how far they have come.
Pasco overcame a five-minute scoring drought midway through the game to earn a 61-50 win over the Sharks in the Class 5A region quarterfinals. The Pirates (22-3) advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2003.
“They’re not afraid of the moment,” Pirates coach Troy Moore said of his sophomore-led team. “They’re ready for the moment.”
They certainly were early. Pasco ripped off the game’s first 10 points before Nature Coast (21-4) started to use its size advantage.
The Sharks pounded the ball inside, scoring all but two of their 21 first-half points in the paint or at the free-throw line. Senior post player Lyndsey Pospisil scored nine of her team-high 21 in the second quarter, including a layup that capped off a 13-0 NCT run.
That’s when the Pirates, who totaled 12 wins in the past two seasons, showed their 3-20 days are behind them.
“It’s within themselves,” Moore said. “They don’t want to go home.”
They answered the Sharks’ size with speed. Pasco relaxed a little on defense and let Nature Coast attack first before pouncing. The result was nine turnovers in the second quarter and six more in the third to seize the game.
“They’re not as fast so we had to take advantage of that,” sophomore guard Brianca Roberts said.
Roberts pushed the ball after every rebound or turnover, and Nature Coast couldn’t answer. She finished with 22 points.
Sophomore guard Allahon Marbra’s basket off a steal gave Pasco a 29-27 lead midway through the third quarter. The Pirates, behind Marbra’s game-high 23 points, never trailed again.
“It’s making history, is what it is,” sophomore center Ashley Webster said.
Webster was a big reason. She scored eight of her 10 points in the second half and grabbed 11 rebounds to help set up Tuesday’s showdown with district rival Gulf. The Buccaneers have given Pasco its only three losses of the year, including a 58-47 defeat in last week’s district title game.
“We hope the fourth game is the charm,” Webster said.
Courtney Crawford had a double double for NCT with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.