LAKELAND — As shot after shot missed its target, Calvary Christian coach Brooke Sibert didn’t flinch. Her team got to Wednesday’s Class 3A semifinal against Daytona Beach Father Lopez by shooting from long range, and that strategy wasn’t about to change.
“I was once a shooter so I know how it feels to have a green light,” Sibert said. “They deserve it. They’ve put in the shots at practice. They’ve earned the green light.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors (25-4), their shooters never got on track at the Lakeland Center in a 50-41 loss to the Green Wave. Calvary Christian shot 28 percent from 3-point range (10-for-35) and 20 percent for the game (14-for-68) in its first state final four appearance.
Father Lopez (24-5) faces Miami Country Day tonight at 8 for the championship.
“It’s upsetting but it was good just getting here,” said senior guard Caroline Andreassen, who scored nine points and made 3 of 17 shots. “If you’re going to go out, (the state tournament) is a good way to go out.”
It wasn’t as if Calvary Christian didn’t belong. It stayed with Father Lopez in the first quarter thanks to 3-pointers by Kasey Howard and Andreassen.
The score was tied at 7 to start the second, but the Green Wave went on an 8-0 run late to take an 18-12 lead. Momentum shifted quickly when freshman Carley Plentovich hit a 3 and Andreassen hit another at the buzzer to tie the score at 18.
“I felt so much more calm and relaxed at halftime,” Andreassen said. “It helped us a lot.”
Early in the third quarter, Howard made a 3 and was fouled. She converted the four-point play to give the Warriors a 25-22 lead. Then things fell apart.
Father Lopez’s Simone Brown scored eight straight points in the paint, and Shannon Cranshaw added a layup during a 10-0 run that gave it a 32-27 lead. A Rachel Mostert layup was the only other Warrior basket of the quarter.
“Every time we scored a basket in the first half it felt like a touchdown,” Father Lopez coach Brad Ridenour said. “In the second half we executed much better.”
That execution continued in the fourth quarter. With the Warriors struggling to make shots (they missed three layups in the quarter), Father Lopez stretched the lead to 43-30 midway through.
Calvary Christian made one last gasp during an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 43-38 with just more than two minutes to play. But the Green Wave made six straight free throws and allowed only a Carley Plentovich 3-pointer to end the game.
“I knew they’d come out strong in the third quarter and it happened,” Sibert said. “We just didn’t get back on defense.”
The Warriors are sure to have bad memories of poor shooting. Of their 14 shots made, 10 were 3s, and they connected on just 3-of-7 free throws. And they aren’t likely to forget Brown, who scored 19, 16 in the second half.
“She just took it to us,” Andreassen said. “She’s big and strong and hard to defend. She just muscled her way in.”
Carley Plentovich led the Warriors with 17 points. Her twin, Savannah, was held to just 1-of-9 shooting and scored four.
“It was a great game to play in. I hope that we can get back here,” Savannah Plentovich said.