MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
SEFFNER — Seffner Christian coach Greg Fawbush’s mug was immortalized Tuesday when some resourceful boosters made photocopies of it, attached it to ruler-sized strips of wood and disbursed it to Crusaders fans at the Class 3A region semifinals.
But it’s the face of Crusaders sophomore Sabrina Whiting that’s likely to rouse Brooks-DeBartolo’s coaches from any foreseeable slumber.
Scoring a succession of layups via dribble penetration and isolated backdoor looks, Whiting scored a career-high 28 to lift the host (25-4) to a 61-49 triumph.
“I didn’t think they would leave (the lane) that open,” she said.
The Crusaders, who defeated the Phoenix (18-9) four times this season, will try to clinch a second consecutive final four berth Saturday.
On Tuesday, their strategy was obvious: Spread the floor against man pressure and allow Whiting to be isolated.
Three times in the second half, Brooks-DeBartolo cut its deficit to three. Twice, Whiting reopened the lead with layups through a barren lane. Her final layup gave Seffner Christian a 55-48 lead that all but sealed things.
“Sabrina will wear you down,” Fawbush said. “She’s like a gnat, she’s just keeps coming at you, coming at you, and that was our whole game plan. As long as they kept them hugged up on the corners, we either were going to back door with Sabrina or attack with Sabrina.”
Freshman power forward Peyton Walker complemented Whiting with some interior motives of her own, inflicting most of her damage inside for 22 points.
Phoenix senior Chelsea White, the visitors’ top scorer coming in, picked up two fouls in the first 51/2 minutes and scored 10 before fouling out midway through the fourth.
“Four times in a season, and they kept getting better every time,” said Fawbush, whose team was undervalued after top scorer/rebounder Tesha Hanson transferred in the offseason. “But at the same time, we haven’t gotten any respect, so we kind of thrive on that.”