BRADENTON — Defending Class 3A champion Tampa Catholic is making a return trip to the state final four, beating Southeast 61-55 Saturday night in the region finals.
Tampa Catholic, which led by 17 in the second quarter, saw the Seminoles rally with a 29-point third quarter that ended with the teams deadlocked at 41. Mariah Dowdell gave Southeast its final lead of the night at 55-53 with 3:15 left in the game.
Then Kai Jones and Meghan Keough — coupled with missed shots and turnovers from Southeast — iced the game for Tampa Catholic (26-4). The Crusaders scored the final eight points.
Keough led the Crusaders with 18 points, and Jones contributed 17 points with six rebounds.
"Give credit to coach (John) Harder. They came back," Tampa Catholic coach Nancy Kroll said. "In the fourth quarter, I just told my girls, you got to keep rebounding and keep running."
Tampa Catholic had eight rebounds in the fourth quarter, which was the only quarter the Crusaders out-rebounded the Seminoles, who had a 30-20 edge on the glass.