MOUNT DORA — Before playing on its home court, the Seffner Christian girls basketball team isn’t allowed to have warmup music. So forward Peyton Walker has taken it upon herself to pump up her teammates, no matter where the game is, with her own tunes.
“I always sing, but this time I was really getting into it,” Walker said of Friday’s pregame ritual at Mount Dora Bible. “I wanted us to be ready and pumped up, because we usually don’t go into the game strong.”
Maybe it was Walker’s song choice — We Are the Champions — or maybe it was that they were playing for their third final four berth in four years.
But the Crusaders came out with a forceful presence and never backed down, cruising to a 65-22 win in the Class 3A region final. Seffner Christian faces Calvary Christian on Tuesday in Lakeland in the state semifinals.
It was the Crusaders’ fifth straight win by at least 36 points.
Despite Seffner Christian’s ability to take opponents out of games early, the Bulldogs (23-6) held their own in the first quarter, trailing by just six heading. But Walker added five quick points after play resumed, and the Crusaders (25-5) finished the half on a 23-2 run.
Seffner Christian, which came in shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc, was aided by five 3-pointers in the first half, three by Sabrina Whiting.
“Sometimes (3-pointers are) not falling, but tonight they were falling,” said Whiting, who led the Crusaders with 26 points. “If I start getting on, then Sara Denny will, then Ally Parimor will catch on. It just trickles down from there.”
Two quarters from their second straight region title, the Crusaders turned it on even harder in the second half, resulting in a running clock. Seffner Christian sunk four more deep baskets, and the defense held Mount Dora Bible to nine points after intermission.
The Crusaders, aiming for the program’s first state title, haven’t been challenged much as of late, but coach Greg Fawbush doesn’t worry about how his players will respond once they do in the coming days.
Because if the Crusaders have proven anything this season, he said, it’s that they know how to take care of business.
“Before the game, somebody asked me if I was nervous,” Fawbush said. “When I look at Sabrina Whiting, Peyton Walker, Ally Parimor, Sara Denny and Kelly Cunningham … you kind of feel calm. These girls know what to do.”