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Region girls basketball: Steinbrenner survives a scare

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Thu. February 6, 2014 | Matt Baker | Email

LUTZ — With most teams in this situation, Steinbrenner coach J.R. Allen would have been nervous.

His Warriors had given up a nine-point lead in the final 3:04, missed seven of their last 11 free throws and saw Tampa Bay Tech drain two 3-pointers to force overtime in the Class 7A region quarterfinals.

But this isn’t a normal Steinbrenner team.

“This team that I’m coaching right now is a very resilient group of kids,” Allen said.

Allen’s group showed it Thursday. Tiffani Brazell sank two free throws with 12.2 seconds left to help the Warriors escape with a 41-40 victory.

Tampa Bay Tech (22-6) held the Warriors (25-3) without a field goal for the first 5 1/2 minutes, and Titans center Brianna Thomas’s seven points put her team ahead early.

Warriors sophomore Courtney Hall scored seven of her team-high 11 points during a 14-2 run midway through the first half as Steinbrenner seized control until the final minutes of regulation.

TBT trailed 36-27 midway through the fourth quarter before making its run. Shakela Smith followed her runner with two free throws, and Tisha Nelson swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 36-34.

“They weren’t going to give it to us at all,” Brazell said.

Brazell’s free throw on the next possession set up a tying 3-pointer by Nelson with 15.5 seconds left to force overtime.

Allen wasn’t worried about his Warriors fading after that, not with a Steinbrenner team that earned one-point wins in two of its last four games, including in the district championship game.

“These girls come out and battle, man,” Allen said.

TBT’s Tyra Mack made a free throw with 24 seconds left to give the Titans a 40-39 lead, but Steinbrenner had one final push.
Brazell was fouled going for a rebound and went to the line with 12.2 seconds left.

“I’ve got to get it done,” Brazell said.

She calmly drained both free throws to give her team the lead. And when TBT inbounded the ball for the final time with two seconds left, it bounced to Brazell, who sprinted the ball down the court to push her team to its second consecutive region semifinal.
 

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