RIVERVIEW — St. Petersburg learned Tuesday that it would be without Jordan Berenbaum, one of its top players, after the senior forward suffered a concussion in the district final loss to Palm Harbor University.
But in Thursday’s Class 8A region quarterfinal against Riverview, however, St. Petersburg’s defense hardly missed a beat.
The Green Devils (20-6) harassed the Sharks (15-8) into 29 turnovers, 19 coming in the first half, with a suffocating fullcourt press to win 55-39 and advance to the region semifinals for just the third time in school history. St. Petersburg will get a rematch against PHU.
“I think the defense was the key,” St. Petersburg coach Tamika Coley said. “Our defense kind of brought up our offense and saved us in really tough moments when we had meltdowns on offense.”
St. Petersburg opened a 19-6 lead as Angel Brown scored six of her team-high 12 points in the first quarter. The Green Devils pushed the advantage to 11 behind Michael LaShon-Everhart’s 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Tiara Myrick.
Riverview, though, went on an 8-2 run to end the half and trailed by only five points. The Sharks got as close as four on Kierra Haywood’s basket with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter but they that was as close as they got.
St. Petersburg pulled away late in the third as a pair of Simone Wilson free throws and a basket from Brinesha Myrick gave the Green Devils a 42-31 advantage.
“We didn’t play a clean game, Riverview coach Gerard Batista said. “It was probably the worst game we’ve played as far as taking care of the ball.”
Haywood kept Riverview in the game with a 17-point, 13-rebound effort.
St. Petersburg got balanced scoring. In addition to Brown’s 12 points, Victoria Uhatafe and Wilson each had eight and LaShon-Everhart scored seven.
“It was big for the other girls to kind of step up (in Berenbaum’s absence) and play their role,” Coley said. “They played well as a team.”