LARGO — Indian Rocks Christian coach Phil Farver knew his team would have to pay special attention to Community School of Naples' Michelle Woods in Saturday's Class 2A region final.
But stopping the junior guard was tough to do. Whether she was driving for a layup or stepping beyond the arc to swish a 3-pointer, Woods found ways to score. She finished with 26 points to help lead defending state championship Community School of Naples to a 60-44 victory.
"We were one defender away," Golden Eagles coach Phil Farver said of stopping Woods. "Michelle is a great player and we played her tough. But she found a lot of ways to score."
Woods, who recently came back after missing six weeks with a heel injury, made her presence known in the first half, scoring 18 of her team's 31 points. Her ability to make things happen around the basket helped open shots for her teammates, who were able to connect from the outside.
The biggest shot came in the final seconds of the first half when CSN's Caitlin Schwartz knocked down a 3 to make it 31-20.
Thanks to a barrage of 3s to start the second half, CSN widened the gap and led 39-20 in the third. IRC battled back and trailed 43-34 to start the fourth quarter.
That's when the experience of the defending state champions took over. CSN forced a few turnovers, drew fouls and converted free throws down the stretch to pull away.
IRC's leading scorer was Rachel Burnett with 17.
"We battled back and made it a game," Farver said. "I'm proud of the girls for that."