MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Girls region basketball
8A, East Lake 57, Wharton 42: The Wildcats had an early six-point lead and only trailed by one at halftime, but could not find an answer for East Lake’s offense in the second half. Seniors Monica Cazes and Abbigale Kaczmarek led Wharton with nine points each.
8A, North Port 68, Newsome 30: The Wolves, originally the No. 4 seed in district 8A-7, saw their season come to an end on the road.
7A, Bartow 60, Tampa Bay Tech 59: The Titans went on a 12-0 run with three minutes left to take a three-point lead. TBT had a chance to win at the end, trailing by one with six seconds remaining. A Bartow defender, though, deflected the last-second shot to seal the upset. Senior Dasha Christopher had the hot hand early for the Titans, scoring 13 points in the first quarter.
7A, Haines City 41, Riverview 31: Already down two starters due to season-ending injuries, the Sharks were lacking in depth before the tip. And when junior Faith Woodard ran into early foul trouble and eventually fouled out, the senior-heavy Haines City squad was able to wear Riverview down. Junior Tesha Hanson led the Sharks with 16 points.
6A, Sickles 47, Palmetto 38: At Palmetto, Gryphons sophomore Kassidy Girdler made the Tigers pay for homing in on sleek guard Bre Crum, scoring 16 points to propel Sickles (20-7). Twelve of Girdler’s points came on 3-pointers as Crum (10 points) successfully found her on the perimeter. “(Girdler) was feeling it, too,” Sickles coach Mark Key said. “She hit the first two and you could tell, she was in the groove.”
6A, Jefferson 64, Largo 43: The Dragons shook off another slow first quarter and pulled away by the end. Jefferson alternated between a 1-3-1 zone and man-to-man defense to slow down the Packers’ shooters, who were hot from 3-point range. Shayla Wilson led the Dragons with 20 points, and Shayla Upshaw and Chantrell Frazier added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
5A, Bradenton Southeast 59, Blake 25: The Yellow Jackets ended their most successful season in years, which featured a district title and their first appearance in the region tournament since the 2006-07 season. Coach Marlin Steward said his squad will take this experience as a learning lesson for next year’s campaign.
4A, Holy Names 39, Avon Park 25: The Jaguars were able to pick up the low-scoring road win thanks in part to a game-high 11 points from senior Amanda Mcwilliams.
3A, Seffner Christian 65, Lakeland Christian 29: Despite missing starter Kelly Cunningham due to a bruised knee and Sara Denny playing a limited role as a result of the flu, there was no shortage of offense for the Crusaders. Sabrina Whiting (13 points) Peyton Walker (13), Sam Plager (12) and Ally Parimore (12) all scored in double figures. “I told them, what we do from tonight on, every free throw we shot in the offseason, every step we’ve run, every mile they drove in AUU, every time they got up early for practice when they didn’t want to, this is what it’s for,” Seffner Christian coach Greg Fawbush said.
3A, Brooks-DeBartolo 54, Lakeland McKeel 42: At Lakeland, the Phoenix (18-8) used a suffocating full-court man pressure to notch the first playoff triumph in the program’s four-year history. Senior Chelsea White led the winners with 20 points, while low-post star Tatiana Manuel added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Standout performances from Thursday night
Dasha Christopher, Tampa Bay Tech: Christopher poured in a season-high 23 points. The 5-foot-8 senior scored 13 points in the first quarter alone.
Kai Jones, Tampa Catholic: Jones was the leading scorer in all of Hillsborough County with 24 points in the Crusaders’ 78-46, running-clock victory. She also had 13 rebounds five blocks three steals, six assists.
Brittany Betts, Tampa Catholic: The junior had 22 points of her own.
Shayla Wilson, Jefferson: For the third straight game, the senior topped the 20-point mark.
Tesha Hanson, Riverview: With leading scorer Faith Woodard in foul trouble, Hanson provided most of the offense and led the team with 16 points.
Standout performance? Milestone achievement? Coaches are asked to call 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8123 no later than 11 each night to ensure their team is included in our roundup of memorable performances.
Compiled by staff writers Laura Keeley and Joey Knight.