TAMPA — Plant coach Carrie Mahon could only watch as her team missed shot after shot. She chalked it up to too much time off and too many holiday treats.
But after a halftime chat Tuesday, the Panthers embarked on a 20-5 third-quarter run and went on to beat host Academy of the Holy Names 50-28 in the opening round of the Jaguar Holiday Tournament. Plant (10-2) moves on to face Gulf today in the semifinals. The other semifinal will feature Durant facing Clearwater.
After an 8-8 opening quarter, Plant continued to struggle with its shots, despite taking a 16-10 lead against the Jaguars. The Panthers shot 7-for-40 in the opening half but still managed to lead for all but a minute of the first half.
Guard Kelly Brennan and forward Kaitlyn Brady combined for 13 points during the Panthers’ third-quarter run. On defense, Plant pressed AHN into turnovers, preventing the Jaguars from any comeback attempts. And it didn’t help the Jaguars that their top player, junior guard Amanda McWilliams is sidelined for at least another week with a broken hand.
Brennan and Brady each finished with 13 points while AHN was led by Brianna Wharton’s eight.
“I was real pleased with our defense but our shots just weren’t going in,” Mahon said. “Academy is a good team; they handle the ball well but I think our press slowed them down a little bit. Thank goodness we had a big third quarter.”
The earlier contests turned into mismatches as Gulf and Durant enjoyed blowout wins.
After streaking out to a 21-2 first-period lead, Durant topped Tampa Prep 59-14. Gulf faced little resistance as well, blasting Middleton 88-11. Gulf’s Nicole Adams connected on four 3-pointers on her way to a 37-point performance. Leighlani Paselio added 13 points for the Buccaneers.
Durant was led by Eryka Williams (17 points), Taylor Broadnax (11) and Asia Nelson (13), who combined for 41 points.