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.
8A: Plant withers versus Palm Harbor U.
PALM HARBOR — As his team warmed up for its Class 8A region quarterfinal against Plant, Palm Harbor University coach Darian Dublin figured his team was ready. By the time the first quarter ended, he knew it was.
The Hurricanes (24-3) jumped to an 11-point first-quarter lead and never looked back in a 46-35 win over the Panthers (17-13). The win sets up a fifth meeting with district rival St. Petersburg on Tuesday in the region semifinals.
"It's all about how we come out of the box," Dublin said. "In our warmups, we had a lot of energy. That spilled over into the game."
While Dublin could tell his team was prepared, Plant coach Carrie Mahon could tell her team was not.
"We weren't ready," Mahon said. "They wanted the game more than we wanted the game. They came out hard and strong, and we weren't ready for that."
The score was 4-4 after Plant's Maggie Ganther nailed a 15-footer. But after that, PHU went on a 13-0 run that included four points each from Amber Jennings and Megan Ingram.
Ingram hit a layup in the final second of the second quarter to give PHU a comfortable 36-15 halftime lead. She scored all of her game-high 16 points in the first half.
"When we're all clicking together it helps all of us do better," Megan Ingram said. "We were playing very well on defense, and that sparks our offense. That's been our focus late in the season, play defense so we can get some offense."
The Hurricanes only scored eight third-quarter points but held the Panthers to only five.
PHU led 44-20 after three quarters and started to empty its bench. Plant outscored the Hurricanes 15-2 in the fourth quarter behind 10 points from Madelyn Carey. But it was too little, too late for Plant.
"We were dry as a bone," Mahon said of her team's shooting.
Class 4A: Academy of the Holy Names bounced back from surrendering a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that forced overtime and ousted Lakeland Mc-Keel 59-51.
"When a shot like that goes in and you're on the road, that's a lot of adversity in one moment," Jaguars coach Chris Severini said. "We were able to gather ourselves, and we played a really good four minutes of overtime."
Ashley McWilliams had a triple double of 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) for the Jaguars, who advance to play Tampa Catholic, which beat Lake Placid 50-34. The Crusaders were led by freshman guard Mia Blocker's 17 points.
Class 5A: Bradenton Southeast beat visiting Middleton (9-12), which turned the ball over on its first six possessions, 48-19. And Gibbs had little trouble at Spoto (2-16), winning 65-29. Gibbs (13-12) blew the game open with a 34-point third quarter.
Staff writers Rodney Page and Kelly Parsons contributed to this report.